In Ohio, the maximum legal interest rate that a judgment-creditor can charge is the short-term Treasury rate plus 3 percent. Today, the short-term rate is about 1 percent. Therefore, the most a judgment creditor can charge you in interest is about 4 percent. By my calculations using a generous 6% interest rate, a five-year term, and a $6,400 starting point, the maximum legally allowable in Ohio today would be about $8,500. At reasonable 4% rate, the most a court would allow a judgment-creditor to collect from a judgment-debtor in Ohio in your situation is $7,786.
Accordingly, work from $7,800 as the absolute maximum you would ever consider paying to resolve the debt. Here is an alternative you may want to ponder: Scrape together a lump-sum of $3,500 or so. Contact the judgment-creditor, which at this point may be a law firm, and open a negotiation. Explain that you would like to resolve the debt immediately, and are willing to overlook the fact that the judgment-creditor is exceeding statutory maximum interest rate on the judgment balance. Explain that you are prepared to make monthly payments, but would rather resolve it once and for all. Offer the judgment-creditor a $2,500 lump-sum and then negotiate up from there.
If judgment-creditor will not accept final offer, explain that you would rather spend that amount on resolving the debt with them directly, but if they are insistent on you owing $14,000, you will consult with a consumer rights attorney in Ohio who will look into the creditor's exceeding the maximum allowable interest rate on judgment debt, and will determine if you have a cause of action under Ohio's laws. If they do not budge, then find an attorney in Ohio who has experience in consumer rights law and determine your rights and whether you can have the judgment vacated if the creditor is charging an illegal interest rate. If the creditor is charging an illegal rate, you may find an attorney who will work with you on a contingency basis. Start with NACA to find an consumer-rights attorney.
See Debt Negotiation and Settlement Advice for more tips and tactics on settling debt.
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