Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is a bankruptcy discharge?”
Humberto Soto thought the $6,411 Chase credit card debt he incurred before his 2012 bankruptcy had been discharged, but when the 51-year-old former hospital worker tried to rent an apartment in January, a housing agency ran his credit and spotted the debt.
Soto called JPMorgan Chase, who held the debt. Chase told Soto he either had to pay or else lose the apartment. Soto called his lawyer, who called the housing agency. Soto got the apartment, and he did not have to pay Chase.
Soto’s experience is playing out by the thousand across the United States, with large financial institutions failing to extinguish debts that federal judges have ordered discharged in bankruptcy courts. By keeping the debts alive, banks are “essentially forcing borrowers to make payments on bills that they do not legally owe,” according to the New York Times. The Times calls the not-dead-yet debts “zombie” debts.
The banks say they comply with all federal laws regarding debt collection and sale of debt holdings, but lawyers in the United States Trustee Program are investigating Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and General Electric’s financing arm, alleging that the institutions are effectively holding consumer credit reports hostage until borrowers pay—even borrowers whose debts have been discharged through bankruptcy.