A know on the door and someone hands you some papers and says...
- "You've been served" how did this happen?
- Why did this happen?
- What can I do about it now?
If you have ever received a summons before, it can be a very stressful experience!
The Summons will say something like...
"You have 30 days to APPEAR and give an ANSWER..."
Sure sounds like you are going to have to go to court!
Before I get into the "why did i receive this...", let me tell you that about 99% of the time you will NOT HAVE TO GO TO COURT.
If you look at the summons carefully, you will see that the words APPEAR and ANSWER are italicized.
This is a legal term/phrase that basically means that if you can PROVE with WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION that you don't owe or have paid this debt (THE CLAIM), you have 30 days to file the proper forms with the court.
Since most of the time the CLAIM is correct, there is no need to do that.
SO WHAT NOW????
The biggest mistake many people make is to IGNORE the summons!
If you do, then most likely the attorney for the PLAINTIFF (owner of the debt) will seek a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.
Now that a JUDGMENT has been awarded, the attorney can petition the court for a writ of GARNISHMENT (wages, bank or both).
In most states, this is about 25% of your NET TAKE HOME pay.
Your employer must comply with the WRIT OF GARNISHMENT or face severe penalties!
Think it was hard to pay the bills on you current take home check?
Now you have 25 % less...
DON'T IGNORE THE SUMMONS!!!!
Contact the attorney for the plaintife and see if you can work out some kind of repayment agreement to stop the garnishment options.
This could be a:
- Full settlement for less than the current claim
- Monthly payments on the full balance
- Or even a settlement for less than the balance paid in monthly payments
Once a wage garnishment starts, it is very difficult to get the attorney to accept a settlement!
OK...WHY DID ALL THIS HAPPEN ? ? ?
After dealing with clients for almost 20 years, it still amazes me when one of them says that they never received any summons or had no idea they owed the debt.
I guess that is possible, but ....
Anyway, most likely, here's what happened.
Due to circumstances beyond you control, you just couldn't keep up witht the minimum payments due on your credit cards or other unsecured accounts.
And yes, you may have even used a cash advance on one to help pay the minimum due on the other!
I know, you fully intended to pay all this back, but your circumstances just haven't changed.
The Creditor sent letters and made phone calls, but they were not successful.
So, in some cases, they sell or assign your account to a Law Firm that specializes in debt collection.
Even so, if you had contacted the collector or attorney/collector, you should have been able to negotiate some sort of settlement that would not only save you some money, but stop any legal options!
Each creditor/collector is different and so there are no set amount of settlements.
A SUMMONS doesn't just happen by accident.
The good news is that regardless of the circumstances, there is most likely an alternative to wage or bank garnishment.