Georgia Collection Laws

Can a Georgia creditor levy my bank account, put a lien on my property, or garnish my wages?

I have a debt I cannot repay in Georgia that I cannot repay. What can creditors do here?

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Highlights


  • Examine what kind of collections can occur when you live in Georgia and have a judgment against you.
  • Review Georgia rules for the statute of limitations on debt collection.
  • Consult with a Georgia attorney.

A collection agent or law firm that owns a collection account is a creditor. A creditor has several legal means of collecting a debt. But before the creditor can start, the creditor must go to court to receive a judgment. See the Bills.com resource Served Summons and Complaint to learn more about this process.

The court may decide to grant a judgment to the creditor. A judgment is a declaration by a court that the creditor has the legal right to demand a wage garnishment, a levy on the debtor's bank accounts, and a lien on the debtor's property. A creditor that is granted a judgment is called a "judgment-creditor." Which of these tools the creditor will use depends on the circumstances. We discuss each of these remedies below.

Wage Garnishment

The most common method used by judgment-creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment, in which a judgment creditor would contact the debtor's employer and require the employer to deduct a certain portion of the debtor's wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor.

n most states, creditors may garnish between 10% and 25% of your wages, with the percentage allowed determined by state law. Garnishment of Social Security benefits or pensions for consumer debt is not allowed under federal law, but may be allowed for child support. See the Bills.com Wage Garnishment article to learn more.

Georgia's Garnishment rules are found in O.C.G.A. Title 18 Chapter 4 Article 4. In general, Georgia follows the federal rules for the amount of a garnishment, which allows up to 25% of a worker's wages to be garnished. See the Dept. of Labor's Employment Law Guide - Wage Garnishment and the Dept. of the Treasury's Answers About Garnishments. Municipal and state employees may be garnished.

Levy Bank Accounts

A levy means that the creditor has the right to take whatever money in a debtor's account and apply the funds to the balance of the judgment. Again, the procedure for levying bank accounts, as well as what amount, if any, a debtor can claim as exempt from the levy, is governed by state law. Many states exempt certain amounts and certain types of funds from bank levies, so a debtor should review his or her state's laws to find if a bank account can be levied. In some states levy is called attachment or account garnishment. The names may vary but the concept is the same.

In Georgia, levy is allowed under O.C.G.A. § 9-13-50 & O.C.G.A. § 9-13-16. Levy is allowed if the plaintiff possesses a legal instrument known as Fieri Facias, which is a writ commanding the sheriff to seize and sell as much of a debtor's property as is necessary to satisfy a creditor's claim.

Levy is rarely used in Georgia, perhaps due to the state's myriad rules regarding the collection method.

If you reside in another state, see the Bills.com Account Levy resource to learn more about the general rules for this remedy.

Lien

A lien is an encumbrance -- a claim -- on a property. For example, if the debtor owns a home, a creditor with a judgment has the right to place a lien on the home, meaning that if the debtor sells or refinance the home, the debtor will be required to pay the judgment out of the proceeds of the sale or refinance. If the amount of the judgment is more than the amount of equity in your home, then the lien may prevent the debtor from selling or refinancing until the debtor can pay off the judgment.

O.C.G.A. § 9-12-81 allows a lien for a money judgment. Under O.C.G.A. § 44-14-361, mechanics and contractors (and similar laborers and professionals) have the right to place a lien on a property. Georgia lien law for contractors is intricate, strictly construed, and offers several defenses for homeowners.

If you reside in another state, see the Bills.com Liens & How to Resolve Them article to learn more.

Georgia Statutes of Limitations

Each state has is own statute of limitations on contracts and judgments. Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-25, the statute of limitations on an open account (i.e., credit card) is 4 years. However, the Court of Appeals of Georgia held in Hill v. American Express that a credit card contract is a written contract, and not open. This 2008 decision may or may not set precedent on all state courts in Georgia. (Editor's note: Regardless of a person's perspective what statutes of limitations should apply to credit cards, this finding is not a good example of judicial writing. The decision is conclusory, and ignores the plain-language in Georgia statute. For those reasons, this decision is vulnerable to be reversed in the future.)

See also the Bills.com resource Georgia Statute of Limitations for additional discussion of statutes of limitations and credit cards in Georgia.

Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-24, written contracts have a 6-year statute of limitations. A contract under seal has a 20-year statute of limitations. Foreign judgments are valid for 5 years (§ 9-3-20), and domestic judgments are valid for 7 years (§ 9-12-60). A domestic judgment can be revived up to 3 years after it become dormant (§ 9-12-61).

ollection agents violate the FDCPA if they file a debt collection lawsuit against a consumer after the statute of limitation expired (Kimber v. Federal Financial Corp. 668 F.Supp. 1480 (1987) and Basile v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore LLC, 632 F. Supp. 2d 842, 845 (2009)). Unscrupulous collection agents sue in hopes the consumer will not know this rule.

Georgia Mortgage Foreclosure

See the Bills.com resource Mortgage Foreclosure Georgia to learn more about the options available to Georgia residents, and the relevant Georgia laws.

Georgia Law & Spousal Debt

Generally, a Georgia judgment-creditor is allowed to pursue the assets of the Georgia judgment-debtor only, and not his or her spouse.

However, exceptions apply to this general rule. For example, some forms of jointly held real estate can be attached, as well as joint financial accounts. Also, if a spouse conveys the title of property to a spouse at a price that is lower than the market price, the judgment-creditor may be able to convince a Georgia court the transaction was sham intended to defraud creditors, and should be reversed.

Georgia Industrial Loan Act and Georgia Fair Business Practices Act

The Georgia Industrial Loan Act applies to consumer loans less than $3,000 with a loan length less than 36 months and 15 days. The Industrial Loan Act sets limits on interest, fees, and collections practices for short-term, sub-$3,000 loans. It does not apply to collections on other debts. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to other debts, and Georgia loans larger than $3,000.

See the Georgia Code Ann. § 7-3-1 to 7-3-29 and Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § 120-1-14-.01 to 120-1-14-.25 to learn more about the Georgia Industrial Loan Act.

The Georgia Fair Business Practices Act (FBPA) mirrors the FDCPA. The FBPA prohibits any unfair or deceptive acts and practices in the conduct of consumer transactions, including debt collections. It creates a cause of action for violations of the act, and to recover actual damages, reasonable attorney's fees and costs, and three times the amount of the actual damages as punishment for an intentional violation. A FDCPA violation is a per se violation of the FBPA (O.C.G.A. § 10-1-390 and 1st Nationwide Collection Agency, Inc. v. Werner, 288 Ga. App. 457, 459, 654 S.E.2d 428, 431 (2007)).

Collection agents do not need to be licensed in Georgia.

Recommendation

Consult with a Georgia attorney experienced in civil litigation to get precise answers to your questions about liens, levies, and garnishment in Georgia.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

92 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Delena
    My husband just received a garnishment at his job, we called the attorney that held it and they stated that it was from a judgement in 2006. He never knew about that judgement, was still living in the same county and has no idea what it is on. The attorney gave us the number to court and the file# . I have tried to call and left messages but no return call. I have read your post and I'm still trying to figure out what if any limitations there can be. It would seem like to me if you have a judgement and a sheriff serves them, than they can find you to serve them to you at your home. I know they will serve them even at night. They other thing I have a problem with, the judgement had not showed up on his credit in the 6 years that we have been together. He has credit extended to him with never a question or that even showing up, why is that.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      Tell your spouse to consult with a lawyer who has consumer or civil litigation law experience immediately. Your spouse should not have been surprised by the judgment or garnishment. A lawyer will review the facts to learn if your spouse received an effective notice of the lawsuit. If he did not, then his lawyer will file a motion to dismiss the judgment.

      A credit report is a specialized newspaper, and is not a perfect record of anyone's entire financial life. Just because an event is not reported in the Atlanta Constitution does not mean the event never happened. The same is true for credit reports. Some counties have better relationships with the consumer credit reporting agencies than others, and it is possible your spouse's judgment never reached Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. The fact the big-three consumer credit reporting agencies never reported the judgment is of no legal consequence.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Kerstin
    I dissolved a corporation and I have a collection lawyer attempting to collect on a debt against me. Can they do that?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      No one can answer your question without knowing more about the facts of your situation.

      If you as a corporate officer signed the loan contract on behalf of a properly formed and funded corporation that followed all of the rules for incorporation in your state, the answer to your question is, "no."

      If your corporation was not created and funded properly, or if it was just your alter-ego, or if you signed the contract where it specifically spelled-out that you as the signer had personal liability for the loan, the answer to your question is, "yes."

      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has corporations experience. He or she will analyze the facts in your case, and will advise you accordingly.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Don
    My son-in-law received a judgment against him for a hospital bill in Georgia. The judgment-creditor demanded Chase Bank in Georgia to deliver all funds in his bank account plus other funds totaling the judgment. Chase left him $1,300 overdrawn. This does not seem legal. Is it?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      I can find nothing in Georgia statutes that allows what you described. However, I did not search Georgia's case law to find a an appellate or Georgia Supreme Court case on this point. (Readers, please chime in below if you know of any cases on this issue.)

      Consult with a Georgia lawyer who has consumer law experience and ask him or her to research the account over-draw issue. Please return here and share what you learned.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Laura
    My mother is age 70, lives on Social Security and has a very limited income. She has a hospital bill for $1,500 that has been turned over to a collection agency since the hospital refused to work with her. Can the collection agency take the debt from her checking account? Her only income is her Social Security benefit.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      Laura, the short answer to your question is, "No, a judgment-creditor is not allowed to garnish a Social Security benefit, or allowed to levy the account of a Social Security recipient if all of the funds in that account come from Social Security benefits." See the Bills.com article Social Security Garnishment for a more complete answer, including links to the Social Security Administration Web site to learn more about this issue.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2012
    Sam
    I obtained a judgment from the court house for $3,200 (I am a judgment-creditor). I put writ of FiFa ("Fieri Facias") against the debtor and like to proceed with bank garnishment or wage levy. But I do not have their bank or work information. Is there a way to find this information especially their bank account info? I am pretty much stuck and do not know the next step to collect.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2012
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer who assists in collection of judgments. You will pay a fee, in all likelihood, but it will be better to have a portion of the judgment than nothing at all.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2012
    Valeria
    My husband has a judgment from 6/2006 for $6,891 for a voluntary repo on a car in Georgia. Nothing has happened since then, next year will be 7 years since it was filed, my question is what can happen after that? Will the judgment be deleted or they can try to do something else?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2012
      Bill
      A judgment awarded by another state's court is called a foreign judgment. A judgment from a local state court is called a domestic judgment. The lifetimes of foreign and domestic judgments vary.

      A Georgia judgment has a lifetime of 7 years, after which it becomes dormant. At that point a 3-year clock starts ticking, during which time the judgment-creditor can revive the judgment under some circumstances. When that clock runs out the judgment becomes void.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2012
    Nakiah
    I could not afford my car anymore so I gave it back. I understand they can garnish my wages but can they take the money out of a joint bank account.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2012
      Bill
      Let us assume a deficiency balance resulted from the repossession, which is likely. The creditor has the right to collect the deficiency balance from you. If you refuse to pay, then it can file a lawsuit against you. If you do not defend yourself in a lawsuit, or your defense is not persuasive, then the court will award the creditor a judgment. The judgment-creditor can use the judgment to garnish your wages (if your state allows wage garnishment), place a lien on your property, or levy your bank accounts. You mentioned joint bank accounts. These have no protection from judgment-creditors. It does not matter if the other joint account holder was responsible for 100% of the deposits in the account — if your name is on the account it is vulnerable to levy.

      My advice? Joint accounts create more problems than they solve. Close the joint account and open separate accounts at the same bank or credit union. Use an online balance-transfer tool to move money between accounts as needed.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2012
    Monik
    A car (1989 Jetta) was purchased back in 1992 for $7900.The car only lasted a day and the car creditor was called to pick the car up, which they did not do til a month later. Should the statue of limitation have run out by now. A judgment was entered in 2008 and now they are wanting $27,976 for a car that old and that i don't own in 2012. This doesn't seem fair. Please advise
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2012
      Bill
      When a person buys a car using a loan, it does not matter if the car is perfectly reliable and never suffers a scratch, or is totaled after a month or two. Either way, the borrower must repay the loan as promised in the contract, unless there is a legal reason for the borrower to breach the contract.

      In your case, however, there is a possible implied warranty issue. It seems unconscionable a dealer would expect a person to accept a three-year-old, $7,900 vehicle that would operate for only 24 hours. A fair-minded dealer who wants satisfied customers who are willing to recommend his or her business should work with customers when a vehicle goes horribly wrong so soon after the purchase. You do not say what resolution you and the dealer agreed to regarding the vehicle in 1992. You do not mention if you received a notice of the 2008 lawsuit, presumably for a breach of contract. You do not say whether you mounted any sort of defense when the dealer filed the action. Nor do you say whether you received a notice of the judgment awarded to the dealer in 2008.

      If you received no notice of the action filed against you in 2008, then consult with a lawyer who has consumer law experience. If you received no notice, then you may be able to file motion to vacate the judgment on the theory the plaintiff did not follow your state's civil procedure rules when it failed to give the defendant proper notice.

      If you had notice of the 2008 action, and mounted no or an inadequate defense, then your only option is to negotiate a settlement with the judgment creditor.

      You ask about the judgment amount. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience to learn if the judgment amount is correct under your state's laws.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2012
    Frustrated
    I leased a car through SNAAC in 2005 for my ex-wife. She ran off with the car to Florida. I reported it to authorities but they could not report it as stolen, thus I let it go and SNAAC hounded me about payment for a car I hadn't seen in years. I had worked a settlement plan with one of their agents via e-mail. I was making payment on the debt from that point. The agent stopped communication with me. There was a break in payments. Recently, I received a notice of legal action and settlement offer, that i must respond to in seven days. Mind you, I have only $150 left to pay from the earlier settlement agreement. They are now asking for over $1,200. And i have no idea where the car is nor the condition of it. How much should I pay, and how can i guarantee that i will get the title as well as the car? What can I do about all this? It's been 8 years and I'm ready to rid them from my life.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2012
      Bill
      You have two separate issues. First, regarding the payment issue, call the lawyer or collection agent and negotiate a lump-sum payment to settle the debt.

      Second, regarding the whereabouts of the vehicle, that is not the concern of the leasing company. Nothing in any lease contract I've seen requires the leasing company to monitor or track down a vehicle if the person who leased the vehicle gave it to third party, who absconds with the vehicle. If you want the vehicle returned to you, hire a skip-tracer to locate your ex-spouse. Then hire a repo-man, give him or her the location information for your spouse, and ask the repo-man to take custody of the vehicle and return it to you.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2012
    Ron
    I recently received a call from a credit collection agency stating that I owe approx. $4900 on a credit card from Feb. 2005. I honestly don't remember having this card, but my question this: Can the agency attempt to collect after the statute of limitations has passed? I understand GA law states the statute of limitations is 6 years. The agency claimed they attempted to serve me with papers at an old job but was willing to settle with me "today" for $1500. What action do I need to take?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2012
      Bill
      In almost every state, a debt collector is currently allowed to attempt collection on a debt that is passed the the SOL. If they do so, the debtor has the option of using the SOL as an affirmative defense, if the matter goes to court.

      Were in your position, I would not send a penny to the debt collector, were I confident that the SOL had passed. If I were sued, I would use the SOL in court. If you get any correspondence in writing, validate the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2012
    Eric
    Hi, I recently received a notice of wage garnishment for a 4,000 debt and now the creditor has more than doubled the amount owed to $8901 dollars owed. I would like to file a claim of exemption as the garnishment would have a severe impact on my living expenses as my mother is dependent on me to pay her bills and my bills as well. What can I do to cease the garnishment?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2012
      Bill
      The Georgia Council of State Court Judges published a benchbook for judges and lawyers summarizing Georgia garnishment laws (PDF). Consult with a Georgia lawyer who has consumer law experience to learn how to file for an exemption, and to learn if the amount demanded is permitted under Georgia law.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2012
    Zukade
    Hi,I owe past due rent to an apartment place I stayed in for 2 and 1/2 months. The first month was free and I only owe June and a portion of July. A debt collection company says I owe about 4,000. I didn't damage the apartment I barely unpacked or stayed there. I left early due to sketchy behavior by the apartment complex. But my question is in the letter from the debt collectors they said they would encourage their client to sue or use the methods in my state to collect. I have explained to them that I work part time and only make ten cents above minumum wage. The job I have now is different from the one when I attained the apartment. So it will take time to come up with the amount. I called the apartment place and they said the debt collectors are the ones to deal with. How do I find out who owns the debt? Also, I have no property or any money really. In your opinion would I likely be sued? And what case could the debt collectors have to sue me? I don't have a contract with them and I doubt they know anything about my agreement with the apartment. When I contacted them he heckled me and said I was looking for apartment and I had to tell him the apartment he was heckling me aboout was the one I was calling about. He even used a former name of the apartment. Very sketchy. I just want all the advice your are able to give.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2012
      Bill
      I have seen collection agents file small-claims lawsuits for $500. I have also seen instances where collection agents have not filed actions for $40,000+ delinquent credit card debt. Collection agents make their own policies on when they decide to pull the trigger on a lawsuit, and when they decide to give a debtor a pass. In other words, I simply cannot predict if or when a collection agent will file a lawsuit.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2012
    STERLING
    can a lawyer agency continue garnishing my checks even though the debt was paid in full and the money is already sitting in the courts. Also can they get away with garnishing my checks after 8yrs on a car loan in georgia?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2012
      Bill
      If the debt is paid, and you can document this fact, then the answer is straightforward. Regarding your second question, consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law or civil litigation experience to learn if the creditor/plaintiff took or takes all of the steps necessary to obtain a judgment.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2012
    Brittany
    The ga dept of revenue just levy my husbands bank account. He has other business accounts with partners, can they take money from those accounts too?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2012
      Bill
      Details matter when analyzing a question like yours. Are the accounts jointly held? Is the business a corporation? Your spouse needs to consult with a lawyer to learn his options for resolving this debt and insulating remaining assets.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Sam
    I have obtained default judgment against my condo association in GA. The property management company (registered agent) for the condominium, is giving me the run around and not mailed me the payment. I am considering garnishment of bank account for recovering my money. If I file for garnishment using bank account, should it be against the bank of the registered agent or that of my condominium association. The claim was filed in the county of the registered agent.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in civil litigation or debt collection. The laws of remedies are precise, and missing a step or otherwise not following your state's rules when levying a bank account or placing a lien on property may result in your scuttling your judgment. Get professional help.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Bill
    I am living on disability and have received a small claims lawsuit for $11,000 I owe on a credit card. I have $30,000 total debt but would like to avoid bankruptcy if possible. I know they can't garnish my SS wages, but what about if they are direct-deposited to my bank. Can they garnish my bank account? I live in a house that is upside down $10,000 on the mortgage, and drive a 12-year-old truck. Do you think they will attach these? Any help will be grateful.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      I assume by "SS" you mean "Social Security." Please see the Bills.com article Social Security Garnishment to learn more about the rules protecting Social Security benefits. It is unlikely, but possible for the creditor to place a lien on your property. It is very unlikely your vehicle has enough market value to gain the attention of a judgment-creditor. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience to learn if you are, for all intents and purposes, judgment-proof.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2012
    Kayla
    I live in GA and have a loan with a company for about $7,000. Actually, I am the co-signer. Being that the other person on this loan works in FL, the company told me they would come after me being that I work in GA. Is this true? And can they garnish my wages for $7,000 even though I only make about $1,200 to $1,300 a month?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Bill
      Two reading assignments for you that will answer your questions:

      Please ask any follow-up questions you may have here, or on one of the pages just mentioned.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    esther
    Why can't I find out what the Georgia Statute of Limitations is for raw land lien that is 22 years old. My lawyer who told us about 5 years ago to hold onto the land because after 20 years the lien is not enforceable so hold onto it. My hubby passed on 1/6/12, and was wondering if I can now sell the property.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      My condolences on your recent loss.

      I, too, could not find specific information that answers your question. I have two suggestions.
      1. Speak with whatever attorney you are using to probate your husband's estate.
      2. Contact a lender that specializes in Georgia raw land loans. He or she may be able to answer your question or point you in the right direction

      Please report back, after you get an answer to your question.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Kevin
    I live in Georgia. I was involved in a car accident (also in Georgia) as the at fault party. The car that I was driving was only in my name, but the insurance policy was in my wife's name with me being covered by it. My question is, if the other party involved sues me, will my wife's assets that are only in her name be in jeopardy? Can they try to sue us both at the same time? What if my insurance company pays out the policy limit but the other party gets additional money from their underinsured motorist insurance, can their insurance company try to sue my wife as well as me to get back the money they paid. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Georgia is not a community property state, so assets in your wife's name should not be subject to collections, nor should she be a party to the lawsuit.

      If you are being sued, you should definitely consult with an attorney.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    C.R.
    My father was a cosigner on a personal unsecured loan around 15 years ago. The primary can not pay the debt. The debt originally was 30 or 40k. Not sure exact amount. The primary and my father have payed way more than what was loaned but interest rates continued to go up to crazy amounts like 25%. So they stopped payment and primary has tried to settle but they wouldn't. Now they sent a summons to my father about regular garnishment for 100,000(which was like 70,000 on the last attempt to settle????) on a bank account that has nothing in it. Can they seize my parents home or car that the bank basically owns that they make payments to? Or just make a garnishment on bank accounts or wages? He is now going to get a lawyer to attempt to settle I guess.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      As noted in the original article above, a creditor can sue your father and then attempt to garnish his wages, levy his financial accounts, or place a lien on his property. A lien does not mean a judgment-creditor can seize a home or car. If a lienholder can ask the sheriff to seize a judgment-debtor's property in your state, proceeds from a sheriff's sale would go to them, after satisfying previous creditors. I recommend that your father consult with a lawyer immediately. Make sure he gathers all the loan documents, and papers relating to the payments made on the loan and shares them with his lawyer. Your father and his lawyer will want to check the interest rate set in the loan papers and verify the rate charged complies with his state law.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2011
    Dan
    My wife is the only one working right now. Her check barely covers living expenses and expenses for three children under 8 years old. I stay home with my toddler son and am looking for a job that will cover both daycare and possibly after school care expenses. A debt collector for a private student loan is threatening to garnish my spouse's wages even though the loan is in my name. Can they do this?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Dec, 2011
      Bill
      In common-law states, Spouse B's income may not be garnished for a debt in Spouse A' name alone. In community property states the rules may be different depending on the particular state.

      Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), a collection agent may not make false threats to collect a debt. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in violations of the FDCPA to learn if you have a cause of action (a legal reason to file a lawsuit) against the collector.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Nikki
    I received a notification today that I am to appear in court on Dec 13 for a credit card debt. I was laid off in Nov 2007. I paid a few months after that what I could. I called the creditor and explained I cannot pay balance and minimum payment, and they refused to stop charging fees. I was sent a judgement notice in June 2011 and replied that there was not enough evidence provided to prove that was what I owe. I owed about $4,200. They are asking for over $10,000 at this point. I called the attorney about a month ago and said that as soon as I find employment I will call and settle (I just graduated from college). How can I be summoned to court and not have received anything from the attorney other than the latter I called about over a month ago? What can I do at this point. I do not want a wage garnishment when I go to work, I refuse to pay them $10,000 and in order to settle right now they attorney said I have to agree to pay $500 a month for 12 months. Any suggestions?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Call your county bar association and ask for the names of the organizations that provide no-cost legal services to people with low or no income in your area. Make an appointment with one of the organizations, and bring all of the documents and letters you have regarding the debt to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will advise you accordingly.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    steven
    I am a 100% rated disabled veteran receiving both VA and SSD for disabilities and unemployability. I have 2 credit card judgements against me. I understand this creates a sort of 'judgement proof' status, however, I am in need to refi my mortgage from adjustable to a fixed lower rate. There is no 'lien' on my property that I do not own out right, hence the need to refi. Will the Judgement prevent our intent to lower our conventional home loan interest rate as we attempt to get a VA-backed fixed loan lower rate.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Any refinance loan that I am aware of requires paying off judgements before closing.

      If your income and assets are beyond your creditor's reach you may have the leverage to negotiate a lower-dollar settlement to remove the judgments.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Carley
    I am a 30 year old single mother who purchased a home in 2007 before the market crashed and now my mortgage is more then the home is worth. My loan is a 10 year interest only 30 year loan and b/c my mortgage is more then my homes worth I am unable to refi even with the gov plans.I have excellent credit however I am at the point to where literally I am paycheck to paycheck and on the verge of needing a car {current car paid off} I have a good job making decent money I live in the state of Georgia and I wanted to know if I "walk away" {foreclose} can my wages be garnished? or would it be better to file chap 7 ?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a Georgia lawyer who has experience in bankruptcy or real property law to learn your options. Weigh the pros and cons of short sale vs. a strategic default. See also the Bills.com resource Mortgage Foreclosure Georgia to learn about the deficiency balance issue.

      I realize I did not answer your question. That was intentional. In some instances, a short sale is a better choice for consumers because the contract offered by the mortgage servicer is fair to all parties. In other cases, a short sale is more costly in the short and long term than a foreclosure followed by a bankruptcy. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Gennie
    I am hoping for some help. I've been out of work for 4 years and managed to make ends meet by living off my credit cards for the majority of it. Last year I had a second child and it came to the point where it was feed my children or pay my credit cards. I've let one (of two, 17k in debt) lapse and haven't paid it in 5-6 months. I luckily own my house and car free and clear (though my mother is on the title to my house as well as me), but I'm very worried about the bank coming after my house and either placing a lien or forcing a sale. Are these possible in GA?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      I recommend that you speak with an attorney. Your assets may be at risk, given Georgia's collection laws. If a judgment is obtained against you, a lien is certainly a possibility, but what I want you to discuss with a lawyer is how likely it would be for the creditor to come after your home. Perhaps you can call your creditor and try to work out some kind of settlement.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Sierra
    Hell, We rented a property in GA and we lived there for a few years and signed a total of 2 lease agreements. The second one was signed by some one with a "Full Power of Attorney" that didn't have one. We started with a/c and then it broke shortly after moving in and we didn't have it the rest of the time. They told us it sounded like a personal problem so we cut the lease. They sued us for damages to the property and the landlord admitted on the stand that the woman that signed as their "Full Power of Attorney" was never that and that her power of attorney to accept and deposit the money expired prior to that lease agreement but they had her sign it anyways and they never told us. Well the judge still sided in their favor and now we owe them $6,000. My husband is in the military and I am an assistant manager making $9.00 an hour. What can they garnish from our wages? What can we do? Our attorney painted a bad picture for us if we let the judgment stand and not take it to superior court. We can't do that because I am trying to get into the military and it would take too long for the court procedure. What can we do? What can they take from us? We only have the one bank account that I never deposit my money into and a bike at the house that is someone elses and everything in the house is borrowed from my dad. We only have one vehicle in our name that we owe about $12,000 on. Can they put a lean on that? What about discussing payment options? I'm so confused. Can oyu please help.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      I will assume a lawyer represented you in your breach of contract trial. If so, consult with him or her about negotiating a settlement with the judgment-creditor (the landlord). If you represented yourself, then now is the time to consult with a lawyer to see if you have grounds to appeal the court's finding.

      You mentioned Georgia. Your personal property is at risk for a lien, or a Georgia Fieri Facias order. Fi fa orders are discussed in the original answer above.

      It is never too late to negotiate a settlement with your opponent.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    John
    I had a company representing a private student loan sue me and win and now they have a writ of Fieri Facias (commonly called a fi fa) against me. I own next to nothing. A handful of clothes, a computer I use for work and a few books. I have no bank account, no car, and I was never allowed to finish school since my credit was not good enough to take out enough private loans to finish. I'm really confused about what they will be allowed to take with this fi fa. The little money I make to pay the rent comes from that computer and my stomach has been in knots for over 8 months because I am scared to death of losing my means to pay the rent or that when they come some of my girlfriend's stuff will be taken by them. Could you let me know if their are any exemptions to the fi fa that I will be able to claim and if so how I could go about claiming them?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      See the discussion in the original answer above, which contains citations of Georgia law.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Mari
    Good Evening, I recently pulled my credit and found two items that i was not aware. I immediately called the company and found that apparently that was my student private loan. I informed company that i never received any paperwork from the school and requested copy of the promissory note. I also made payment arrangement's with the company to pay curtain amount via my debit card. I received loan papers from the company and numbers on the promissory note and on the collection company letter do not make any sense. I also noticed that dates of the loan obtained do not match as well. I called the collection company to ask for more information's and to explain it to me why the information's do not match. I called few times and soon as i start question the accuracy of the informations representatives get extremely rude and raise their voice. They never want to provide me explanation. One representative tried to explain but when i pointed some facts of the incorrect information's i was advised to call back my account manager. I do not know what to do because all I am getting is the run around. Nobody wants to go over the calculations and the fact that dates of the loan do no match. Need urgent advice. Thanks in advance.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Mari, you need to speak with an attorney. You probably were pressured into making payment arrangements, but it is not a good idea to do that before you know that you owe the debt. An attorney will advise you whether you are being taken advantage and what steps to take.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Dave
    Last month I went to civil court to fight a collection on a credit card account that was purchased by Portfolio Recovery. In court the Plaintiffs lawyer could only present a photo copy of a billing statement addressed to an old address and it was dated at a time when I no longer lived at that address. I never made a payment so there was no payment history on the account. I have never acknowledged the debt and never will. On the 11th of last month the case was dismissed without prejudice due to lack of evidence. Today Portfolio Recovery has contacted me again wanting to collect and again I denied the debt. The statement was dated 2008 is that the date from which the statute of limitations begins? Or is it the date that the account was said to be opened? again I never paid anything on this and have never acknowledged it. Also is there a limitation on when they can take me back to court? They asked for my new address and I told them they could not have it so maybe they will run out of time just finding me.
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      The collection agent can file another action against you if it uncovers new evidence, or uses a different theory using the existing evidence. In most states, the statute of limitations begins with the most recent payment or the last charge made on the account, whichever is later. The expiration of the statute of limitations does not mean the plaintiff is barred from filing a lawsuit, except in Wisconsin. The passage of the statute of limitations gives the defendant an affirmative defense. If this affirmative defense is raised in a timely manner, the court may dismiss the case immediately.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2011
    MIchelle
    Good morning! I'm writing with a few questions and can hopefully get some insight. We recently relocated from NY to GA. While in NY, we got in over our heads with a few credit cards (Discover Card being one). After being involved in a motor vehicle accident, I was left not able to work and our household of five is being supported by one income. So, we weren't able to make payments. The credit card is in my husband's name only. He just opened a checking account here in GA and is now getting a ton of letters from attorney's stating that there is a lawsuit against him here in GA and that his wages could be garnished and/or a lien placed on his account. All of the letters say 'advertisement' on top. How true is this? Wouldn't we know if a lawsuit was filed against him? Also, how could we go about taking care of this at this point? Thanks so much for your time and what you do to help people out!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Bill
      The law of civil procedure is clear: The defendant is supposed to receive an adequate notice of a lawsuit. In practice, however, lawyers use old or otherwise incorrect addresses when notifying defendants, process servers screw up and use the wrong address or serve the wrong party, among other minor errors that create a defective notice. Defendants who have a surprise default judgment filed against them should consult with a lawyer who has civil litigation experience and ask if vacating the judgment is a viable tactic.

      The solicitations your spouse is receiving from lawyers seeking to defend him indicate a lawsuit may be filed against your spouse in Georgia. Consult with a lawyer who has civil litigation experience to learn if one has been filed, and what strategy he should employ in his defense.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    Ken
    Need Help ! I went to refinance our house for a much better intrest rate, my loan originator told me 3 days later that there is a lien for 6000.00 dollars on the house, and the is against my wife from an old credit card, the collection agency that imposed the lien is Palisades in CA. The dofd was 07-2006, we had NO idea that we had a lien against our property, we were not sommoned, nor sued, this just came out of the blue. Can a JDB put a lien on the house without us even going to court? Should they have atleast tried to make contact with us. We are stunned, can I make them remove it since there was no contact with us and no summons or court date?? Thanks for any help
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      A key element of civil procedure is something the profession calls "notice." Notice is giving both sides adequate and accurate information about pending actions in a lawsuit. Every jurisdiction wrote very clear notice laws that both parties to a lawsuit must follow to prevent surprises like the one you described. Failure to follow notice rules can result in a judgment being vacated. What should you do? Consult with a lawyer in your state who has civil litigation experience. explain your situation. He or she will write a pleading to the court explaining your situation, and argue the judgment (and subsequent lien) should be vacated because the plaintiff failed to follow your state's notice rules.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    Mikel
    My wife took out a loan in 2000 with a lender in TN. She paid on the loan until 2002. A judgement was granted in 2002 to levy her bank account which she had previously closed. Last week they levied the account she has now with a judgement date of 2002. Is not the statute for a loan judgement in GA 7 years? There is nothing showing any kind of an extension either... Thanks
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      There is not enough information in your message for me to offer a meaningful observation. Consult with a lawyer in your state with consumer law experience to learn more about your rights and liabilities. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call your county bar association. Ask for the name of the organization that provides no-cost legal services to people with low- or no-income. Make an appointment with that organization, and bring all of the documents you have regarding the debt to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will advise you accordingly.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    Tara
    I have a furniture account with a local company. I am one payment behind and they are harassing me at my home and threatening to repo my furniture. Is that legal for one missed payment?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      Review the contract you signed when you financed the purchase. The contract will spell out your rights and liabilities. I realize this is not the answer you were seeking, but without reading the contract you signed, I am left to guess.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2011
    Angela
    I was turned over for collection last year for a medical bill that I didn't even know I owed. I took my son to the ER here in town. It seems the hospital didn't give the physician's service (handles doctors billing) my correct address. The address they had was not correct. As a result, I never received a bill. Of course, they gave this same information to the collection agency who sent one letter (which I never received) then reported me to the credit bureau. That's how I found out about this mess. I called the collection agency and the doctor's office then filed a dispute with the credit bureau. I paid the amount owed by credit card, and the credit bureau found in my favor and wiped the bad report from my record. This all happened in June 2010. I am now getting a call from the same collection agency stating that I owe them the collection fees. I told them I wasn't paying them. I also called the physician's billing service and explained my problem. They basically said too bad for me. I told them I wasn't paying it since it never should have been turned over to begin with. Do I have options? Thank you. Angela
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      You wrote, "I paid the amount owed by credit card..." To whom did you pay this debt? Do you have evidence of this payment?

      In any event, validate the debt immediately.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Angela
      Thank you for responding so quickly. I paid the physician's billing service directly. The only proof I have is the credit card statement and a payment confirmation number. I also have detailed notes on everyone with whom I spoke. I spoke to someone directly with the doc's office on 5/19/10 who called the collection agency and put a hold on the collection action. I called the next day and paid the billing service. The guy there also told me they had the billing address correct for my son (patient), but they had it incorrect for me, the responsible party. I also requested they buy this contract back from the collection agency since it never should have been referred. Nevertheless, I called to ask for a debt validation from the collection agency, and they need it in written form which I will do today. This morning I also called the nice girl to whom I spoke at the doctor's office originally and asked for her help. She is calling the collection agency for information. Maybe she'll get it handled, but I'm not leaving anything to chance. Also, I have a letter that I sent to the collection agency asking them not to relay any negative information to any credit reporting agency. In addition, I asked them for an itemized list of charges that I owed which I never received. I actually had 2 of these for the same reason (same date of service; different doctors): incorrect billing address. One was reported to Experian; the other wasn't. This is the one that was never reported. I was confused yesterday thinking it was the one that had been reported. I found out this morning it was the other one. Thanks again. Angela
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Angela
      Holly just called back from the doctor's office. She called the collection agency and the collection fees are no longer an issue. I am to call her back if they try to contact me again. Thanks again for your help. Angela
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Kimberly
    I'm hoping someone can help me. My credit card went delinquent and was written off in either Aug 2006 or Feb 2007. I'm looking on my credit report and it states "Charge Off as of Feb 2007, Oct 2006, Sep 2006, Aug 2006" so I'm not exactly sure if they go by the first date reported or the most recent. Since this time, I haven't heard anything else about this account. 2 days ago, I get a call from a "Miss Johnson" from Brown Meyer and Associates stating that my account is about to get sent to the county court for a judgment against me. If I don't pay the balance within a few weeks, my wages will be garnished. I asked if she could send some kind of official letter in the mail (she wanted a down payment over the phone and I explained I didn't feel comfortable without receiving something from them first) and she said they couldn't send a letter because it was in it's final stages and would take too long, but she could e-mail or fax me some paperwork. She said the balance is now over $13,000, but when I look at my credit report the balance only reflects a little over $5,000. She said I have 3 weeks to pay approx $3,500 or I'll be summoned to court. I was living in Florida when this debt was created but now live in Georgia. The statue or limitations for both states is 4 years for credit card accounts; can they collect from me? I initially thought they might be trying to scam me because I can't find an address or any information about this Brown Meyer and Associates firm, but I don't want to ignore it if it's real and have to go to court. Please help :(
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      I have four reading assignments for you:
      1. Read the Bills.com resource Collections Advice to learn the general process a creditor must go through to collect on a debt.
      2. Read Charge-off & Credit Report to learn what a charge off means and does not mean, and its relationship to a credit report
      3. Read Debt Validation, which is the key activity you need to focus on.
      4. Finally, read Served Summons and Complaint to learn what may happen if you are summoned to appear in court.

      As I suggested above, gather all of the information you can from "Miss Johnson" and validate the debt. Her response about not having enough time to send you a letter is a complete line of baloney in violation of the FDCPA, and I agree you should be suspicious that you may be dealing with a fake debt collector.

      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Nicole
      I need help! Last year my son asked me permission to join a Karate school and I gave him consent to do so. I've also signed a contract with the karate school. This year my husband lost his job and my son no longer wants karate lessons. I went to the school and spoke with the owner about our situation and politely requested to cancel the contract. I've explained that my husband lost his job, my son didn't want to go to karate lessons anymore but she denied my request. After that, I didn't send any payment to the school because I didn't have the money, being the only one working and paying the bills. My question is: Do I have any law on my favor regarding the reason I gave to cancel the contract? My son is not using the facility since December. The school is not losing anything. How can I get out of this contract without hurting my credit? I've offered the school to pay half the debt and cancel the contract but they didn't respond. Now a collection agency is trying to collect from me, but I would like to see if has anything out there in the law that protects me before responding to them. Thank you!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      I would not be doing you a service by commenting on your situation without reading the contract. You mentioned one of the reasons you are not paying the school is due to financial distress. Call your county bar association and ask for the name of the organization in your area that provides no-cost legal services for people with low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization and bring the contract and your notes from your discussion with the school representative to your meeting. The attorney you meet will read the contract and advise you accordingly.

      Customarily, smart business people know that happy customers will share their experiences with a handful of friends and neighbors, but disgruntled customers will tell dozens. The school's hard-nosed collection style is short sighted.

      In my experience, health club contracts are one-sided and very consumer unfriendly. If you are fortunate, the contract will include unreasonable and illegal clauses the lawyer will find when he or she reads the contract. In a sternly worded letter to the school, the lawyer will point out these illegal clauses, and will explain that although you would like to solve the matter privately, you are prepared to go to court and allow a judge to decide the matter.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Nicole
      I really appreciate you help. I will go ahead and follow your instructions to see if I can solve this matter as soon as possible.Thank you for giving me part of your time and attention responding my question.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Remy
    Hi, Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I'll try to be as concise as possible. Two years ago a default judgment was made against me for a credit card debt. It's not that I didn't want to pay just that a series of unfortunate events left me in and out of work for several years. I'm still unemployed at this time. During that time, my father also passed away. My mother wasn't doing so well but she had to continue working because the government benefit she received was not enough to pay her regular living expenses. Due to my situation, I had no choice but to go live with her. After a time, she didn't want to deal with juggling the money anymore. So about a year ago, she opened a new account and put me on it so that I could pay her bills and expenses and also in case she became ill or incapacitated, she wanted me to have access to whatever was there. I didn't have a car and hers couldn't be driven anymore so she bought a used car. My mother has never had a license and does not drive, so because of this (the insurance requirement) the vehicle is in my name. As I stated before, I am unemployed so all the money in the joint account was from her benefits and wages. The creditor I owed money to obtained some sort of judgment (I don't know what as I haven't been served yet) that wiped out her checking and savings. So my question...is that legal? Is there a way to recover her money and all the bank fees for bounced transactions? Also, she bought the car that is our only means of transportation but it's in my name...could they take that from us? In case you're wondering, it's a 17yr old Honda that has seen much better days.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      As your anecdote illustrates painfully, joint accounts create more problems than they solve, which is why I advise people to avoid them. Instead, open separate accounts at the same bank or credit union and use that institution's online account-transfer tool to move money back and forth between the accounts as required.

      Of course, what I just wrote does not help you with your immediate problem or answer your question. In all jurisdictions that I know of, joint accounts are fair game to judgment-creditors. What concerns me most about your message is that you were taken by surprise by the account levy (called an account garnishment in some jurisdictions). You should have seen this coming. Did you receive a summons or other notice of a hearing regarding the debt? If not, you should have. Consult with a Georgia lawyer who has experience in consumer law to learn if the judgment-creditor followed Georgia's rules of civil procedure in giving you notice of the pending lawsuit. If you did not receive a notice, then you may be able to get the judgment reversed, the funds levied returned to you, and be able to file a lawsuit against the creditor.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Remy
      Thanks for your reply. Given this situation, I will definitely be avoiding any sort of joint account in the future. In regards to your question, no I was not notified that this was going on. I'm fairly certain my phone number is not the same one they had on file but I've lived at the same place since this mess started. I have received no letters, no court summons, nothing. As you are aware, I have no money to pay a lawyer especially given the current circumstance. I know that some do free consultations and I'm looking into that. But do you know of any website or resource where I could get free legal counsel?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      Call your county bar association and ask for the name of the organization in your area that provides no-cost legal services to people with no and low income. Make an appointment with that organization, and bring all of the documents you have relating to the debt and the account levy to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will review your information, and discuss your options.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Remy
      Thanks for the tip, I'll look into that as well.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2011
    Darlene
    I am having a big problem with an old debt. I had a judgment placed against me by a debt collection attorney for Associates Financial Services, Co., Inc. I have called the original attorney, plus other collection agencies that the debt was supposedly with. Long story short, I ended up calling the attorney's office who obtained the judgment and they no longer have the account. Furthermore, I was told the account judgment was over 7 years old and has not been refiled. My question is how do I go about getting this debt "invalidated"? I was told by another attorney to file a civil suit stating that the debt was no longer valid. I have put a lot of time and good faith effort into trying to settle this judgment but I cannot even find the original company anymore. I don't really have money to settle it but wanted to at least try. I need some sort of direction ASAP as I am applying to the State Bar and they need documentation that this information stating that I have done my utmost to settle this.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      A judgment will not appear on your credit report if it is more than 7 years old, so even if the owner of your judgment/collection account reported the derogatory to the consumer credit reporting agencies, this account would not appear. Therefore, using the quick-and-dirty means to find the collection account owner will probably not apply in the circumstances you describe.

      Based on the context of your question, I will assume you plan to apply to the Georgia Bar. I know nothing about the Georgia Bar, so I cannot comment on its moral character determination criteria. Perhaps, and take what I write here as a flat-out guess, you can write a one-page, to-who-it-may-concern letter describing the circumstances behind your not paying the debt and the efforts you made to track down the collection account owner. Attach whatever documents and notes you have regarding the debt to your one-page letter.

      A far better authority than I for answering this question is a Georgia professional responsibility professor. Best of luck.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Darlene
      Hi Bill, Thank you for your help. I think something got lost in translation. I have already applied for the Certification for Fitness and I have already disclosed to the Bar the judgment, so they are aware of it even though it is not on my credit report. My problem is simply trying to locate the company to pay it and hence I have hit several brick walls. I've called the attorney who obtained the judgment, the courthouse where it was filed and several collection agencies to no avail. The advice I was given to invalidate the debt was a "last resort" approach from a well-meaning attorney. I need something in writing from someone that states that the debt is no longer valid and apparently there is some legal process for this that I am supposed to go through to do this. Time is of the essence and I just need to know where to start. Thank you for your help!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      Hypothetically, is it possible for a debtor to use a form of preventive adjudication to ask a court for a declaratory judgment stating that a statute of limitations on a debt has passed, and that creditor may no longer use that state's court system to collect the debt. However, except in Wisconsin, it is possible for a judgment-creditor or collection agent who owns the collection account in question to continue to collect the debt privately.

      Generally speaking, once a collection account reaches a collection agent the chances of the debt ever being collected is small. Collection accounts are bought and sold for pennies on the dollar. One reason for this is that many debtors are insolvent and judgment proof. Another reason is that the collection account market and collectors are not efficient, and if a wise consumer asks for a debt validation the collection agents either cannot validate the debt or do not know how. My point is this: It is common for an expired judgment or debt that is older than the state's statute of limitations to become lost in a collection agent's files and simply fade away.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Maria
    I am writing because I have HUGE problem and I need as much as advice as I can get. I have a joint checking account with my mother and all of our money has been garnished. She also has a joint checking account with my father and those funds were also garnished. There is one credit card under her that they defaulted on for $22,000 and there are a few in his name that they have also defaulted in, they equal or could even exceed $200,000. They had excellent credit, therefore they had high credit lines on all of their credit cards. The reason they defaulted on these is because they owned a restaurant and when things started to go bad they injected some money from their credit cards to try to keep the business going. Unfortunately they were unable to do and had to close down operations. They owed about $150,000 on the building and the property was worth approximately $300,000. I visited a bankruptcy attorney and they said we could declare the business as bankrupt but we would lose the building and everything in it. We opted out of that because we were hopeful that we would be able to sell the property and salvage the situation. With this economy it was almost a year before we could sell it an in the meantime both my parents were job-less and we had to continue paying the mortgage on it (from the credit card funds). We also used the credit card funds for everyday expenses like utility bills at home our home mortgage etc. We sold the building for the debt on it. And were again left job-less and nearly penniless. At this point we were living off of revolving credits -- we would pay one credit card from funds from another. We never defaulted or were late on any payments. Our mistake was calling all of the companies to let them know that our only income was my father's social security pension (he's 75 and my mother 61) and we were unable to make these high payments Could they lower our rates? Defer the loans? Etc They ALL said there was nothing they could do for us and every single company took whatever available credit we had and took it. They also increased our rates as if things weren't bad already. As a side-note, the only property my parents own are our three cars which are under my father's name and our house which is under both their names, however we paid our house off years ago but applied for an equity line and have the house listed as collateral. We have not defaulted on our equity line payments even though we've maxed this loan out (as we used every penny in an attempt to save our business). Long-story made short, it was been approximately one year that my parents have not paid any credit card bills. We are making our monthly payments on our equity line ($600) and paying for monthly expenses such as insurance, utilities, etc. Again their ONLY income is $767 per month from Social Security. You'll ask yourself how we've survived? And the answer to that has been my mediocre salary. As a recent college graduate, I only make $450 per week and inject that directly into paying bills. We received judgment papers against my mother from the ONLY credit card she owned. We received the papers in August and the judgment had been processed in July. We never knew she had a court date -- no one ever called, etc. Obviously we had collectors call the house but after a while you stop answering them because they only way they'll get off your case is if you negotiate a payment and they have NO WAGES therefore cannot negotiate any payment. When we received the judgment -- my father transferred our three cars to my name in an effort to try to keep them and we were successful. The only advice I have received is to go bankrupt and they will take away our house, which we owe. We have not wanted to do this because we can barely, but still make our payments and if they take the house where are we going to live? After the judgment we never heard anything again. Two days ago 02/07 all the funds in my bank account (joint with my mother) and in my father's account (joint with my mother) were garnished by the credit card company. There was only $1800 in my father's and $130 in mine. I called Social Security and they said once the funds are deposited they are no longer Social Security funds and can be garnished. I opened up another bank account (since I don't owe anything and my name isn't on anything) and had my direct deposit go there. I asked Social Security to send a live check for my dad. What are we going to do???????? We received a letter from an attorney yesterday, it was from the firm to our bank stating that there was a legal order against my mother and asking them to garnish all of her funds -- we received a copy of this letter. It states that the bank must seize all funds for at least 30 days in order for us to give an answer but not more than 45 days. Also this letter was created by a court in a county which we do not live in. The judgment filed in July was in our county but this garnishment letter was not. We had overdraft protection on my dad's account and now we owe the bank $1,800 (we obviously removed that the moment we saw it). The only property we can sell are our three cars which are not worth more than $15,000, which would not pay any of our debt and we would be car-less therefore I would be unable to work. No one wants to employ either of my parents because they are old (75 and 61). I thought of hiring an attorney but I don't know what kind and if I have to pay him -- I just don't have the money. Help please! What's going to happen next? What can we do? I know we CANNOT PAY -- there is really no human way possible and filing for bankruptcy will pardon the debts but we'll have NOWHERE to go. I called the bank which we have the equity line with (same bank that garnished the funds) and asked if we could place the house under my name -- and I could take over the equity line -- and then they could declared bankruptcy -- the problem with this idea is that I don't have a sufficient income to purchase the home ($142,000). I think this stress, pressure, and debt is going to kill us all. Please help in any way possible.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Your message illustrates one reason why I recommend people avoid joint accounts of any kind, whether they be checking, savings, credit card, vehicle loan, or mortgage. People with joint accounts risk setting up a domino effect where one person's debts can cascade through a string of joint holders and knock all of them down. Your message is also a cautionary tale of why it is wise to set up a business as some form of corporation so that if the business fails it does not wipe out the owner's personal assets. This is all water under the bridge for you and your family, of course, and I make my observations for the benefit of other readers who may be considering joint accounts or setting up a business without a lawyer's counsel.

      What can you do? Consult with another lawyer who has bankruptcy experience, and listen to the options he or she gives your parents. Your parents may need to sell the house, or they may not depending on the exemptions chosen, which chapter of the bankruptcy code they file under, and other circumstances you did not mention. Consult with an attorney before you attempt to transfer the ownership of the property to you. If you file for bankruptcy subsequently, the trustee may unwind that transaction. I understand you fear losing the home and having nowhere to live. The rental market in most areas is wide open right now, and landlords are clamoring for tenants.

      $200,000 in credit card debt is not, as you found, going to go away on its own. Your parents need to take action now, today, immediately, pronto.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Stephen
    I had a creditor who two years ago had a judgement against me and had garnished my wages. For some reason I am hearing from them now saying I owe the rest of the money after they dismissed the garnishment. Can they come after me again after they dismissed the first case?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      A plaintiff, such as a creditor or judgment-creditor may ask for a judge to dismiss a case. The judge decides whether to grant the request.

      It is impossible for me speculate whether the judgment-creditor is acting within the law based on the facts presented. Consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law or what people in the law business call remedies.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Stephen
      ok, all I know is I got a letter from the clerk of courts saying I was dismissed from the garnishment.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in remedies or consumer law. A lawyer will be able to review the following documents and give you a precise answer:
      • Your credit card contract or the contract for the debt that gave rise to the lawsuit
      • The summons and complaint
      • The judgment
      • The garnishment order
      • The dismissal
      • The mysterious demand letter
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    Sheila
    I am trying to help an elderly uneducated lady who unfortunately borrowed money from The Money Tree in September. She only received $202.00 but her contract was for $350.00 after all fees and Interest were added. She has paid $170 since Sept. but has no money left to pay and her debt is now past due. I offered to pay $100 for her if they would just zero out her balance but they declined. Said they could levy her assets and have them auctioned off for the balance. Her only asset would be her old car. Can they do this to her? What steps can I take short of paying that High interest they have charged her? She did put up her 27" TV for collateral. Isn't the TV the only thing they could get?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2011
      Bill
      The Money Tree doesn't have the authority to levy your friend's assets or have them seized or auctioned off. What The Money Tree can do is sue your friend, working to get a judgment against her. Once the creditor has a judgment against your friend that is ordered by the court, then your friend's income and bank accounts could be subject to levy. Even with a judgment, I don't believe that The Money Tree would be able to force your friend to give up the car, selling it to pay the debt. As there is interest continuing to accrue, I recommend that you pay your friend's debt, if you can afford to do so, and have her repay you in affordable monthly installments.
      0 Votes