Debt Consolidation Companies
Unfortunately, not all debt consolidation companies are reputable. Bills.com has published articles describing how to choose a debt consolidation company. Review How to Find a Reputable Debt Consolidation Company and Debt Consolidation to determine if the company you chose is reputable and able to handle your debt negotiations.
Summons and Complaint
Bills.com has also published articles regarding what to do if you receive a summons and complaint. Read Served Summons and Complaint and Advice on Court Summons for Debt. I advise you speak with an attorney in your state who is experienced in debt. You may still be able to negotiate a settlement with the creditor prior to the court date. Discuss the summons with your debt consolidation company and determine whether you have enough funds to negotiate a settlement with the creditor.
Does your summons indicate just a written response and/or appearance in court? It is in your best interest to answer the summons and/or appear in court. Bring all of your documentation regarding the debt and why it resulted (your medical issue) and the contract you signed with the debt consolidation company.
Levy, Lien or Wage Garnishment
Read the Bills.com resource Advice on Judgment Garnishment. The most common method used by judgment creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment, in which a judgment creditor would contact your employer and require your employer to deduct a certain portion of your wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor.
Another option for a creditor trying to enforce a judgment is to request that your bank to place a levy on your bank account. Basically, this means that the creditor has the right to take whatever money in your 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, you 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 you should review your state’s laws to find out if your bank account can be levied.
The third common way that creditors enforce judgments against consumers is by placing liens on properties owned by judgment debtors. For example, if you own a home, a creditor with a judgment against you will likely place a lien on your home, meaning that if you sell or refinance your home, you 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 you have in your home, then the lien may prevent you from selling or refinancing until you can pay off the judgment.
Again, every state has its own rules about property liens, so if you have a judgment against you and own property, you should review your state’s laws to find out what your creditor can and cannot do to enforce its judgment.
To learn more about your state’s laws regarding the enforcement of judgments, visit the Bills.com State Consumer Protection Laws and Exemptions page.
If you are unable to afford an attorney, call your county bar association to get the name of the organization that provides legal assistance to people with low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization and bring all of the documents you have regarding the debt and the summons to your meeting. Answer the summons and complaint unless otherwise advised by your attorney. Otherwise, the court will issue a judgment against you and the creditor may take further legal action to obtain payment. Be sure to discuss this with your debt consolidation company to determine the funds available to negotiate with the creditor.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.