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Judgment Won Against Me

What can I do if a judgment was won against me but I don't owe the debt?

I bought a house 10 years ago from a private party. A while later, my house payment was garnished by a collection agency for a debt owed by the people I bought the house from. I have paid them $1,300.00 more than the contractual price of the house. They have put a lien on the house, garnished my bank accounts and say I still owe over $4,000. This was never my debt. What can I do?

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Bill's Answer
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  • Ignore a summons you receive at your own peril.
  • Contact the law firm representing the creditor that sent summons.
  • Speak with an attorney to know your legal options.

Thank you for your question about the judgment entered against you for a debt that did not belong to you.

A judgment is preceded by a summons

Before the judgment was obtained, which has lead to your wages being garnished, you were sent a summons to appear in court. If you ever receive a summons you should do as it instructs! This is not a social invitation that you can ignore. In the hearing, the judge decides if the creditor should be allowed to collect the debt. If the debtor fails to appear, the judge has no choice but to decide on behalf of the creditor.

Negotiate with the debt collector

When you receive a summons, the first thing you should do is contact the law firm representing the creditor. Open a negotiation to see if they are willing to settle the debt. If you do not owe the debt, present the facts to the law firm that shows them this. If you are not able to come to an agreement with the law firm, you should respond as indicated in the summons. If there is a hearing, attend it and present your side of the story to the judge. Use facts, tell the truth, dress appropriately, and show the court respect. The court may or may not decide in your favor, but at least you exercised your right to be heard.

I encourage you to read about how to


With a judgment already entered against you, proving that you do not owe the debt may or may not be possible. I recommend that you to speak with a licensed attorney in your state to see what options are available. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Here are some tips on how to .

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



(6 Votes)
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  • JW
    Jim ,
    Raytown, MO,
    Mar, 2011
    My Mom is going on 95. She was just taken to the hospital today. I got a summons at the door from someone and it wants her to appear within thirty days, which is highly unlikely, physically. She is totally disabled and legally blind. My Dad passed away a few years ago and this credit card debt from a bank I suspect is from several years ago. How do I answer this summons by mail? Her only income is social security and she has no assets whatsoever, therefore I think that they cannot go to her checking account if they get a judgement but I'm not sure. Utilities , insurance an food are paid for from that account to care for her. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. I would get an attorney but I am ony on SSI and can't afford one myself.
    • BA
      Mar, 2011
      Call your county bar association and ask for the name of the local organization that provides no-cost legal services to people in your area who have no or low income. Make an appointment with that organization, and bring the summons and all of the documents you can lay your hands on regarding the debt you suspect is behind the summons to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will probably ask if you have a power of attorney to handle your mother's finances. If your mother is incapable of making decisions, the lawyer will help you draft a power of attorney, which is your first step to helping her resolve this issue.

      On the other hand, I have relatives in their 90s who are sharper than I am, so the fact that someone is age 95 and in the hospital does not necessarily mean they cannot make an informed, rational decision (or whatever the competence standard is in your state) about their finances.