You are allowed to pay debts discharged in bankruptcy. However, whether it’s wise to do so is another matter altogether.

If you’re considering bankruptcy, you probably feel guilty about it.

Even though bankruptcy is a right established by federal law, many people believe they have a moral obligation to repay their debts.

My clients frequently intend to repay their creditors, likely due to the Heaven’s Reward Fallacy, which is the belief that there’s a reward in store for those who suffer.

In spite of that flawed logic, I don’t typically recommend that you pay debts discharged in bankruptcy.

Collectors Can’t Force You To Pay Discharged Debts

Once a debt is discharged in bankruptcy, the creditor can’t force you to repay the debt.

No phone calls, no letters, not even a birthday card that casually mentions something like, “Now that you’re probably getting some money for your birthday, remember that debt?”

If a creditor contacts you at all after the debt is wiped out, you can sue and collect money damages. The court takes it very seriously when a creditor disobeys a court order telling it to leave you alone.

There’s No Positive Impact On Your Credit Report

Once a debt is discharged, the creditor cannot report any account activity to the credit reporting agencies.

Your mortgage company doesn’t report your post-bankruptcy payments on your credit.

If you make a payment, the creditor can’t report it. You get no brownie points for sending in a check.

You’re Hobbling Your Chances At Financial Recovery

You probably filed for bankruptcy because you didn’t have enough money to pay your debts and meet your essential monthly expenses. However, once your case is over, you can save money for a rainy day.

That savings will reduce your chances of filing for bankruptcy again in the future. That money will also help you save for retirement, unexpected medical expenses, and other events.

If you send that money to a creditor, you’re right where you started. Broke and hobbled.

Doesn’t make much sense.

Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy Are Usually Sold

Most credit card companies sell their debts to other companies when you’re 180 days past due (that’s when they “charge off” the debt).

The debts are also sold when you file for bankruptcy (yes, people buy uncollectible accounts due to bankruptcy).

If you send money to, say, Chase, it will get passed along to some debt buyer you’ve never heard of.

To the debt buyer, it’s free money. Like finding loose change in the sofa cushions.

Once again, it doesn’t help you at all.

Focus on Paying Other Debts

Even after bankruptcy, you’ve still got some debts to pay.

Any debt that’s not discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy must be repaid.

If you owe money to a relative or close friend, you don’t need to repay the debt, but it will likely make for a less stressful relationship.

Why not focus on those debts you need to pay, then rebuild your finances?


Meet Jay

Since I became a lawyer in 1995, I’ve represented people with problems involving student loans, consumer debts, mortgage foreclosures, collection abuse, and credit reports. Instead of gatekeeping my knowledge, I make as much of it available at no cost as possible on this site and my other social channels. I wrote every word on this site.

I’ve helped thousands of federal and private student loan borrowers lower their payments, negotiate settlements, get out of default and qualify for loan forgiveness programs. My practice includes defending student loan lawsuits filed by companies such as Navient and National Collegiate Student Loan Trust. In addition, I’ve represented thousands of individuals and families in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. I currently focus my law practice solely on student loan issues.

I played a central role in developing the Student Loan Law Workshop, where I helped to train over 350 lawyers on how to help people with student loan problems. I’ve spoken at events held by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and bar associations around the country. National news outlets regularly look to me for my insights on student loans and consumer debt issues.

I’m licensed to practice law in New York and California and advise federal student loan borrowers nationwide.