Summons, Judgments, Garnishments...What You Need to Know!

If you have received a summons for an unpaid, unsecured credit debt, you know how intimidating it is!

In order to help you understand why this has happened and what your options are now, I'm going to walk you through the basic process and give you ideas on how to prevent in the future.

22853064975_8c547f714f_mDealing with the stress of having too much debt and not able to make the minimum payments due is a terrible experience.

Then, you get a knock at the door and are handed a SUMMONS!

Now what?

Do you have to go to court?

Are they going to garnish your paycheck or levy your bank account?

Most likely, the answer is NO!

Let me walk you through the basic litigation process and I think you'll understand more and hopefully feel better!

When you applied for the credit card or unsecured loan, you were making a promise to repay the debt per the payment and interest of that account.

But, things happen in life and you most likely have had one or more of the following events cause this:

  • Unemployment
  • Illness or disability (medical bills!)
  • Death of a spouse or partner
  • Divorce
  • Retired on a very limited fixed income!

 

 Letters and calls

 

When you don't make the minimum payments required by your credit account agreement, you'll start getting letters and calls.

The letters will warn you that you missed a payment and now you must make up the missed one, pay the late fee and add the next payment due!!!!

The calls usually come after a couple of months of missed payments.  Unfortunately, the original creditor has the contractual right to call you.

Once these accounts are charged off and/or sold to a collection agency, you can put a stop to the calls.

(I'll show you how to stop calls from collectors in just a minute.)

I've been helping people deal with credit issues for over 15 years and have not found it very helpful or productive to try to explain yourself to the agent making the call.

If you feel like you just have to...try saying something like:

"I've had some things happen and can't make the payments now.  I intend to get caught up soon, but would appreciate it if you would stop calling."

This may work, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.

Collection Letters and Calls

After 2-3 months of non-payment, your credit card or unsecured account will most likely be transferred to a DEBT COLLECTION AGENCY.

If the calls had stopped, they will begin again.

But, now you can stop the calls.  Here's how:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

The calls will stop, but the letters will continue.

You may get a letter with a SETTLEMENT OFFER

It will say something like...

The current balance is $$$$$$$, but we are making a one-time settlement offer of $$$$$.  This must be received in our office by (date).

 Sometimes, these are not bad offers!  I've seen some at 40% or so of the balance (yes with all of the added interest and late fees), but for example, a $4,000 settlement on a balance of $10,000 is a pretty good deal!

However, I'm guessing that if you had that kind of money, you wouldn't have gotten behind in the first place!

Debt Collection Agencies (sometime attorneys who specialize in debt collection) have either purchased the debt or have taken it on a kind of consignment.  The debt collector will get a percentage of what they collect.

So, they are going to play "HARD-BALL" and try to get as much as possible out of the debtor (you).

You can negotiate a settlement, but the final settlement will be determined by several factors:

How much the collector paid or stand to earn on this particular debt.  Different creditors (Capital One, CitiBank, etc.) each have their own parameters of what they will or will not take as a settlement.

Your particular financial circumstances also play a very important part of the negotiating process!

If you are employed and are paying a mortgage, the collector may not be willing to come down much as they may decide to file a claim hoping to get a judgment in the future.  I'll explain more about this later.

But, if you are unemployed, disabled, retired, renting and just barely getting by, they will be more willing to accept a good settlement (40%-50%).

Before you make the call, it is a good idea to have "all your ducks in a row" so to speak!

You need to have completed a budget (what's coming in and going out each month).  The collector will need to provide this in order to present you offer to the original creditor or their manager.

Here's a FREE BUDGET WORKSHEET to help:

Budget Worksheet FREE Download here!

Now that you know where you stand financially, you can make the call.

Most debt collectors are surprisingly professional and even polite, so you do the same!

Being aggressive or having a "take it or leave" attitude will not help!

But on the other hand, don't beg or show weakness either.

Just explain your situation and that you are trying your best to work out settlements rather than being forced to seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION.

Although bankruptcy is an option, you should do everything you can to avoid it as it stays on your credit report a long time and makes it difficult when applying or credit in the future.

OK... Let's say you negotiate a good settlement....Now what?

Before you set up or make any payments, you MUST....ABSOLUTELY MUST have the agreement emailed, faxed or mailed IN WRITING!

Once you have the written agreement, you can either call to set up automatic payments or mail them per the agreement.

To give you an idea of what a real settlement agreement looks like, click below:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

If you are mailing the settlement, make sure it arrives on or before the due date!  They can and will void the agreement if you are late!

If you cannot reach a settlement agreement, the collector may opt to go for a judgment.

I've written several articles about this process.  Rather than go into it in this blog, check out:

What To Do If You Receive a Summons

I hope this has helped. Let us know if we can help...

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Tags: consumer debt collection, credit card hardship plan, summons, stopping debt collection calls, avoid before filing bankruptcy, credit card debt help, settlement, mimimum payments

Stop Debt Collector Calls!

stop collection callsHow can you Stop Debt Collector Calls?

Debt collectors are paid to collect money that you owe!  So, is it any wonder that they will use any and all methods (legal and illegal) to get you to pay?

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • You are sitting down to relax after a long day and the calls start!
  • You check your phone messages and you have 14 calls...ALL IN ONE DAY!
  • You start receiving calls from creditors at work?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlines what a debt collector can and cannot do.  If you are being harassed by collectors, you should click on the link above and print a copy!

The FDCPA says that debt collectors CANNOT do any of the following:

  • Contact you before 8am or after 9pm (your time zone)
  • Contact you at work if they are told that you are not allowed to get calls. This can be orally or in writing.)
  • Contact third parties (including family or friends) other than to get information on how they can contact you.  They CANNOT DISCUSS YOUR DEBT!
  • Contact you after you have sent them a letter stating that you do not owe the money and request verification of the debt.

A Debt Collector is PROHIBITED FROM HARASSMENT, such as:

  • Making threats of violence or harm
  • Using profane or obscene language
  • Call over and over again, many times/day!

A Debt Collector is also PROHIBITED FROM MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS, such as:

  • Claiming to be an attorney or a government representative
  • Claim or insinuate that you have committed a crime
  • Claim that they are going to take "LEGAL ACTION", when in fact, they do not.
  • Claim that they will garnish your wages or levy your bank account.  They cannot even start to take legal actions until a claim has been filed and a SUMMONS is delivered to you.

Ok, but How do you STOP debt collector calls?

1) Send a letter like this:

Although I fully intend to repay this debt, it is impossible for me to do so at this time.  I am in a very desperate financial position and cannot pay the minimum payments required for my account.

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) 15 USC, 1692c(c), I am making an official request that you immediately terminate any telephone contact with me or any members of my family regarding any matter concerning the collection of the alleged debt.

You have repeatedly called me at home and at work which must stop!

If you do not, then I will be in contact with the attorney general’s office of my state and file a complaint.

Sincerely,

(Print and sign your name)

2)  Send the letter using REGISTERED MAIL, so you will have proof that they received it.

Once they have received your written notification to stop calling you, they may only call you one more time.  Usually they will be either very nice or very nasty.

Either way, now the calls should stop.

We have been helping people with debt issues for many years. 

If you would like a FREE EVALUATION of your situation, let us know!

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Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt collection harassment, stopping debt collection calls

Are Social Security Benefits Subject to Garnishment?

can social security be garnishedCan Social Security be garnished?

"I got a call today and the collector told me that if I didn't send them money today my social security benefits could be garnished." -Anonymous

Before you start to panic, you need to know your legal rights according to the Federal Trade Commission and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The following benefits ARE NOT SUBJECT TO GARNISHMENT:

  • SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
  • SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)
  • VETERANS BENEFITS
  • CIVIL SERVICE and FEDERAL RETIREMENT and DISABLILTY BENEFITS
  • MILITARY ANNUITIES and SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS
  • RAILROAD RETIREMENT, MERCHANT SEAMAN WAGES
  • LONGSHOREMAN'S and HARBOR WORKER'S DEATH and DISABLITLY BENEFITS
  • FOREIGN SERVICE RETIREMENT and DISABILITY BENEFITS
  • FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE

Although these benefits are EXEMPT, it is very important that you are extremely careful about the funds in your bank account!

As long as the funds in your checking or savings account only came from benefits (such as above) and ARE NOT CO-MINGLED with income you may earn in addition, then your account cannot be levied.

CO-MINGLED means that you deposit exempt benefits (such as above) with other income:

  • W-2 income from you job
  • Part-time income
  • Funds your receive from any other outside sources

 DO NOT DEPOSIT WITH THE FUNDS FROM

YOUR EXEMPT FUNDS!

If you have another job, make sure to either just cash that check or open another bank account, preferably in another bank for those funds.

If you have a substantial amount of un-secure debt such as credit cards, personal loans, collections, or medical bills, and are not able to keep up with the payments, you need help!

Since most debt collectors are professionals, trained to say anything in order to get you to send them money, you should consider the services of a DEBT MANAGMENT COMPANY.

They may be able to:

  • Limit or stop the harassing calls
  • Negotiate a reduced settlement help lower your payments and fees
  • Help improve your credit score as debts are paid off
  • GIVE YOU PEACE OF MIND!

Did you receive a Summons? If so, we can help you. Request more information or give us a call for a FREE consultation!

social security benefits subject to garnishment

 

photo by: aflcio

Tags: can social security checks be garnished, stopping debt collection calls, garnishment

How Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

stop wage garnishmentThere is a way to STOP WAGE GARNISHMENT, but it is easier to prevent than to stop!

Most states allow a creditor who has been awarded a judgment concerning a debt owed to apply for a writ of garnishment that would allow them to garnish up to 25% of your net income.

This would be devestating!

We get many calls asking us to help AFTER THE FACT, and although we often can and do stop wage garnishment, it is not easy. Before we share a couple of ideas or techniques to try, it is important that you understand the process of a wage garnishment:

When you don't pay the debt you owe (and for the purpose of this article, let's talk about a basic unsecured credit card), the creditor starts contacting you with letters and phone calls.

They can be very annoying and in some cases the creditors will violate the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA).  You can STOP the CALLS , but for now, let's talk about stopping wage garnishemnt.

stop wage garnishmentIf the creditor cannot get you to start paying back the debt, they may choose to file a COMPLAINT in your local county courthouse.You will receive a SUMMONS, usually hand delivered, that states that you owe the debt and have 20-30 days to respond with an ANSWER to the court.

The "ANSWER" would be your legal (has to be filed correctly and there usually is a fee) explanation why you dispute the "CLAIM" and don't owe the debt.  For 99% of those who receive a SUMMONS, they owe the debt (even though the interest and late charges added are ridiculous!), so disputing the claim is usually a waste of time and money.

At this point, YOU CANNOT IGNORE THE SUMMONS!!!!! 

If you have some money set aside, call the creditor or attorney and offer a SETTLEMENT or arrange to repay the debt in monthly installments (called a STIPULATED AGREEMENT).

A SETTLEMENT is an offer to settle the debt you owe for less than the full amount.  A creditor may accept an offer of 50%-75% if you can make it in a lump sum or possibly in 3 payments. 

A STIPULATED AGREEMENT is really just an agreement between you and the creditor/attorney to repay all of the debt at a reasonable monthly payment at a state limited interest rate. As long as you don't miss any payments, they agree to not pursue the wage garnishment.

Since they have the JUDGMENT, and know you are employed, they are guaranteed to receive 100% of the debt owed plus filing fees and court costs, so you are not in a very strong negotiating position.

If trying to Stop Wage Garnishment on our own sounds intimidating, you may need HELP! 

For a FREE ANALYSIS OF YOUR OPTIONS, contact one of our Debt Solutions Specialists at 1-877-492-4109 OR simply click the link below.

stop wage garnishmentphoto by: purpleapple428

Tags: stop wage garnishment, oregon wage garnishment, stopping debt collection calls

3 Tips on How to Stop Collection Calls

how to stop collection calls3 VERY IMPORTANT tips on how you can STOP COLLECTION CALLS:

You have to understand that debt collectors are professionals who get paid when they get you to pay as much money as possible on an old or delinquent debt.  NEVER FORGET THIS ! ! !

Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives specific rules as to what a debt collector can and cannot do, most collectors violate these rules every day.

Basically, a debt collector CANNOT:

  • Harass you by calling many times a day
  • Call very early in the morning or late in the evening
  • Say unkind or inappropriate things about you
  • Make false statements about taking legal action against you
  • Call family or friends and tell them you owe money
  • Call your place of employment

So how can you put a stop to collection calls?

(1)  Get the name of the collection agency, address and phone if possible so that you can send a letter demanding that they not call you at home or work.

The letter should state that you cannot repay the debt at this time and that according to the FDCPA, you are demanding that they stop harassing you with phone calls both at home and work.

It is a good idea to send the letter by registered mail so that you have proof that the collection agency received it.

They may call you one last time just to state that they received the letter and will not be calling you again.

They will most likely say something like "Now we have no choice but to turn this over to our legal department to begin a lawsuit." or something like that.

DON'T BE SCARED!  There are alternatives to stopping this action.

how to stop collection calls

(2)  Make sure you have CALLER ID

The worst thing you can do is get into a dialog with a debt collector! THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU........PERIOD!

If you get a call and do not recognize the caller, don't answer. If the caller is family or friend, they'll leave a message. But what if you happen to answer?

Simply cut the collector off by telling them not to call here anymore and hang up! 

(3) Finally, you may want to get help from a professional debt management or settlement company.

A qualified Debt Settlement Company can help put a stop the these calls and negotiate a settlement or reduced payment arrangements.

This will relieve you of the stress of dealing with the collectors yourself!

Click here for a  FREE No Obligation FINANCIAL ANALYSIS 

Or Call 1-877-492-4109

phot by: Mykl Roventine


Tags: debt collection harassment, debt settlement, stopping debt collection calls

Summons!

You recieved a summons, now what?summons

If you have past due accounts and can't afford to make any payments, sooner or later you will get a summons.

It may be delivered by a police officer or someone else, but regardless, it is not a pleasant experience.

What should you do?

DO NOT IGNORE THE SUMMONS!

For the sake of this article, we're taking about unsecured debts such as:

  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Medical bills
  • Personal line of credit
  • Store cards, etc.

When a creditor cannot get a consumer to pay as agreed and attempts to work out a plan or even after collector intimidation (you know...10 phone calls a day!), they may choose to start legal action in order to collect the debt.

A CLAIM will be filed in the county court where you reside. 

Then, you will receive a SUMMONS.  This is usually hand delivered.

The summons will state something to the effect that you have 20 or 30 days after receipt of the summons to APPEAR IN COURT TO ANSWER THE CLAIM.

That means that if you wish to dispute the validity of the claim, you can follow your county's court procedure to give an ANSWER TO THE CLAIM.

The answer is your side of the story if you feel you do not owe the amount of the claim.

Now, just because you don't like the additional interest, late fees and now court costs that have been added to the claim doesn't matter! 

So, if you owe the debt, there is no reason to spend the time or money for an answer and NO, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO COURT.

OK, NOW WHAT?

FIRST DON'T PANIC!

  • You are not going to jail
  • You most likely will not go to court
  • Since we're talking about unsecured debt, no one is going to take your personal property
  • Your not going to have to sell your home, car, boat, etc.

The creditor is hoping that you will call them and make arrangements for full repayment of the debt (plus all the interest, fees and costs) as you are afraid.

AFRAID OF WHAT?

If an arrangement or agreement cannot be reached, the creditor or PLAINTIFF, will be awarded the JUDGMENT.

With a judgment entered in favor of the plaintiff, they can now seek to:

  • Garnish your wages or
  • Levy you bank account

 

CONTACT THE CREDITOR OR ATTORNEY FOR THE CREDITOR! 

If you are employed (not necessarily self-employed) and receive normal W-2 wages, then you must try to work out a repayment plan so that they don't proceed with a writ of garnishment.

Most of the time the creditor or attorney will agree to a STIPULATED AGREEMENT OR JUDGMENT.

This says that if you make $XX.00 payments for some many months they will not continue with legal action.

If you get an agreement, MAKE SURE YOU GET IT IN WRITING!

You most likely will make a "check-by-phone" arrangement whereby they take the monthly payment directly from your checking account, so keep good records.

If you have access to make a one-time or lump-sum payment for 60%-80% of the balance, the creditor may accept that and remove the judgment.

Again, if you arrange this, GET IT IN WRITING!

BUT WHAT IF YOU ARE UNEMPLOYEDSELF EMPLOYED OR RETIRED?

Certain forms of income are exempt from wage garnishment:

  • Unemployment income
  • Social Security or Pension income
  • Disability income
  • Child support
  • And in most states, net income

For more information about wage garnishment, visit: US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.

If all of this is a little intimidating, we can help!

For a FREE, NO OBLIGATION review of your situation, click here.

summons

Tags: summons, stopping debt collection calls, judgment

Common Collection Practices of Collectors

If you are delinquent on paying your credit cards, you no doubt have learned how ruthless collectors can be.

Is there anything you can do about it?stop collection calls

YES!

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to supposedly protect consumers from the actions of collectors.

According to the FDCPA:

  • A collector may contact you in person (rare), by phone, mail, fax, or email (rare). 
  • They are not to call before 8 am or after 9 pm. 
  • They may contact someone else (friend, family member, neighbor), but again, according to the FDCPA, only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, or where you work.  They are prohibited from telling anyone else that you own money, but the phone call speaks for itself.
  • They are not to call you at work, but we know they do.
  • They are not to harass you by calling many times a day, over and over.  But, they do so by using a computer dialer, which although is annoying, is not illegal as they have a “business” relationship with you.

Do they, the collectors, abide by the FDCPA?  Rarely.

If you feel your rights have been violated, you can:

  • Report your problem to your state Attorney General’s office (www.naag.org) and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov). 
  • You have a right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated.  Although this may be a lengthy and costly option, if you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages, employment or medical bills.  It may be in your best interest to seek the advice of an attorney if you decide to sue the collector.

One of the best things you can do to put an end to the harassment of collectors is to send them a cease and desist calling letter.

For a FREE REPORT on HOW TO STOP COLLECTION CALLS, click here.

If you would like more information about the FDCPA, click here.

 

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, creditor legally call my neighbor, common collection practices, stopping debt collection calls

Help me understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

It seems as if debt collectors can get away with about anything.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is supposed to protect consumers, yet few people know anything about it.

help

Most collectors are trained professionals who will:

  • call you several times a day
  • call at early, late or even at work
  • berate you for the debt you owe
  • make false statements about their intention to bring legal action
  • call family or neighbors about your situation

And these are just a few of the unlawful, yes, UNLAWFUL tactics used by most collection agents.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) spells out what a collector may or may not do, and even though you do have rights and it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the collector for violating those rights, most people just don't have the time or money to proceed.

So, what can you do? Here's some tips that will help:

1.  Stopping collection calls at you home

The FDCPA states that if a collector receives a letter requesting that all calls stop concerning the collection of your account, they must STOP!

To get more information on how or what to do, click here.

2.  Stopping collection calls work

Not only is getting collection calls at your place of employment embarrassing, it may also get you in real trouble with the boss!

You may be able to stop the calls at work by simply telling the agent that your employer does not permit calls to the employees.

Although this may work, you should also state in your letter (above) that this request also includes your place of employment.

HOWEVER, if you have not receive calls at work yet, then don't request it in your letter (above) as it tells the agency that you hav a job!  You don't really want them to know that for as long as possible.

3.  Most of the letters you receive from a collector state something like:

"unless you dispute the validity of this debt in the next 30 days, the debt will be deemed valid".

Even if you think the debt is valid, it doesn't hurt to request validation.

WHY?  Because the FDCPA states that if you send a written request for validation, the collector must cease all contact until the debt is validated by a statement or some other form of validation.

If you owd much more that you can repay, it may be time to seek professional help. 

Programs such as Debt Management, Debt Settlement, or even Bankruptcy may provide you with a way to finally put an end to the harassment from collectors and get completely out of debt once for all.

For a FREE, Financial Analysis, click here.

 

Tags: fdcpa, debt collection harassment, debt settlement, debt collectors, stopping debt collection calls