One of the benefits of filing an assignment in bankruptcy, or filing a consumer proposal, is that you are legally protected from collection action from your creditors.  For most individuals, this is a large relief as they have been juggling phone calls for some time before making the decision to seek help from a licensed trustee.

That is why it can be very distressing when you receive collection calls after filing for bankruptcy.  There are several reasons why this happens, and receiving the occasional phone call is normal.  You may instinctively choose to avoid the phone call by letting it go to voice mail, but this is not the best way to handle these phone calls.

When you receive a phone call from a collection agency first determine what debt they are collecting.  Collection agencies are often third party agents that are working for one of your creditors, or have purchased your account from one of your creditors.  This way you will know right away whether it is your debt, and whether it is from before you filed for bankruptcy.

If you are sure that the debt that they are calling about is yours, you can then notify the collection agent that you have filed for bankruptcy.   In some cases, you may not remember if you had a debt with that company, so you may want to make sure that the debt is yours before advising them of your bankruptcy.   This is because collection agencies are often tasked with finding and collecting old accounts where the creditor had lost contact with the debtor.  The creditor may ask you to verify some personal information.  Be careful about volunteering your personal information over the telephone, but in general verifying your date of birth, or address is commonly asked.

Once you advise them that you filed a bankruptcy or consumer proposal, some collection agencies will then ask for your bankruptcy information.  Provide the collection agency with your bankruptcy estate number, which your trustee will share with you.  It is also helpful to provide the collection agency with the name of your bankruptcy firm and their contact information.

Other collection agencies may not want to take down the information about your bankruptcy and may instead ask that the paperwork be sent to them by your trustee’s office.  If that is the case, record the name of the collection agency, their fax number and your reference number or account number with their agency.  This information should then be provided to your trustee’s office so they can send your paperwork to the collection agency.

If a creditor continues to contact you after you’ve told them that you have filed for bankruptcy, that is considered harassment.  They are not legally able to pursue collections when there is a bankruptcy in place.  Should that happen, get the information about the collection agency and notify your trustee.

Receiving collection calls can be distressing, but remember that in bankruptcy you are legally protected from collection action and in most cases, the quicker the creditors are made aware of your bankruptcy, the quicker they will leave you alone.

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