Good news to lift the spirits of anyone currently fighting with their bank. A Florida bankruptcy judge recently spanked Bank of America with a cash penalty for allegedly calling a debtor 38 times after he filed for bankruptcy.
The message from the court to BofA was clear: stop harassing debtors or face the consequences.
It's just too bad the amount the banking giant was charged probably wouldn't be enough to cover its hourly coffee budget.
Arthur Briskman, the Florida bankruptcy court judge, ordered BofA to pay the comparatively puny sum of $12,500 in attorney's fees and emotional distress damages.
BofA was accused of repeatedly contacting a debtor to collect on an outstanding balance even after the debtor filed for bankruptcy protection.
When a person files for bankruptcy, they are given a type of legal protection called "debtor's discharge." Debtor's discharge is essentially a type of legal injunction that protects the filing party from being contacted by phone, mail, or otherwise regarding debt collection.
The point of debtor's discharge is to give debtors a chance to get their finances together free from outside harassment.
BofA allegedly violated this rule with their 38 phone calls. That's why the Florida judge ordered them to pay up.
This isn't the first time BofA has been in hot water over their less than accurate/ethical collection practices. Last year, BofA attempted to foreclose on a house due to a $1 internal coding error. The house, by the way, was also already sold.
More recently, a BofA customer was repeated contacted by a collection agency even after she had paid off her debt.
BofA earned $2 billion in the last quarter of 2011 alone, USA Today reports. So while the five-figure court ordered damages isn't much more than a drop in the bucket for the bank, it will at least hopefully serve as a reminder to other institutions to stay on the straight and narrow.
Or at the very least, it'll let debtors know that if they've filed for bankruptcy, BofA can't bombard them with collection phone calls.