I have an old debt back from 2001 in which a judgement was rendered in 2002 and an order of garnishment was issued. My credit report shows this debt as being charged off. I did pay on the garnishment order from 2002 through 2005 but left Hawaii so the garnishment was stopped. I have since moved back and now the original creditor has contacted me for payment. Can they do this? Can they sue me again like they are stating? The original creditor is still tacking on interest even though the judgement included interest and attorney's fees, the amount that the original creditor is asking for is much more now. Help!
In the state of Hawaii, a judgment is valid for ten years from the date it was issued by the court. Given the fact that the judgment on your account was entered in 2002 — 6 years ago — the creditor is almost certainly within its rights to continue trying to collect on this debt. In addition, Hawaii law allows judgments to be renewed if the creditor files a motion for renewal prior to the expiration of the judgment; if the creditor is conscientious about filing its renewals every ten years, then this judgment may be enforceable almost indefinitely. Even though the garnishment was interrupted when you left the state in 2005, the judgment should still be valid, so it is no surprise that the creditor is once again attempting to enforce the obligation. Please understand that I am not licensed to practice law in Hawaii, so I cannot provide you with legal advice and all statements made about the enforcement of judgments are based on my general experience very limited knowledge of Hawaii state law. I would strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in Hawaii to discuss the judgment entered against you and what action the creditor may legally take enforce the payment of this debt. For more information about the various state laws related to the enforcement of judgments, see the Bills.com Collection Laws & Exemptions by State page.
A debt being charged off does not mean that the debt itself is not owed. “Charge off” is an accounting term used by banks to mean that they have taken an account off of their “accounts receivable” ledgers and have classified the obligation as “bad debt.” The federal Office of the Comptroller of Currency requires that national banking associations charge off any accounts on which they have not received payment in a certain period of time; the length of time changes periodically, but is usually around 120 to 180 days. Since accounts receivable are often reported as future earnings, the OCC requires that banks charge off old debts, as it does not want banks to use accounts which are unlikely to be paid to artificially inflate their future earnings projections. As a consumer, having an account charge off will appear on your credit report as a derogatory item, but it does not mean that the debt itself is no longer owed.
I am surprised that this creditor is telling you that they are going to sue you again on this obligation. If they already have a judgment against you, they cannot file another lawsuit for the collection of the same debt. However, the creditor can continue to collect on the judgment it previously obtained, including garnishing your wages again or pursuing other means to enforce the judgment such as levying your bank accounts or placing a lien on your property. In addition, Hawaii law allows creditors to charge 10% per annum interest on judgments, so the fact that the creditor has added interest is not unusual. Again, I encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state to discuss what actions this creditor can take against you and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
For more information about the various options available to consumers struggling with debts, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com debt help page. I wish you the best of luck in resolving this judgment and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.