Judgment

How Can I Defend Myself on This Old Judgment?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I had a credit card debt that was charged off in 2005 for 3k. A judgment was filled and never collected. Eventually, the judgment disappeared from my credit. I received a letter stating I owe 12k and that garnishment will be done. Please advise

Can I defend myself on this debt?

Edwin

Answer:

Dear Edwin,

Honestly, I think the ship pretty much said on the original court action that would have allowed you to raise a defense against the debt.

However, we don’t want this situation to explode so let’s deal with it.

Just because a judgment vanishes from your credit report does not mean it is dead or not owed. It just means the credit reporting company removed it because they just wanted to, it was more than seven years old, or they had pizza for lunch.

A credit report is an indicator of the good or bad or factual or incorrect information that is held in a computer database about your financial items that are voluntarily reported about you.

There is no requirement that any item is reported to one or more credit reporting agencies. That is why debt may appear on one company’s credit report but not on another.

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The reporting of incorrect information on a credit report can be as damaging as the reporting of bad information. That’s why it is important to monitor all three of your major credit reports.

But Back to the Judgment

If you re sued over a debt and don’t defend yourself, you lose. The creditor will then go for a judgment that can lead to wage garnishment. Depending on what state you live in a judgment can be valid for a few years, be renewed, or last for as long as 20 years.

At this point what you have is a legal problem that needs to be resolved by getting legal advice from an attorney that is licensed to practice law in your state.

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Without investigating the legal merits of the claim you can’t know if the statements they made are true or not.

One place to look for a consumer attorney in your state is here.

You still have options if you act now:

  1. The claim may be a bluff. The attorney can help you determine that.
  2. If valid, you can always legally eliminate all of your debt in about 90 days with bankruptcy.
  3. If it is a valid claim you can always think about settling the debt of the judgment. If you can afford it you can come to a mutual agreement with the judgment older, you could potentially settle the debt for less than you owe. But be careful. If you don’t know what you are doing, this can be problematic. But read this.
  4. There is a slight chance that credit counseling could help you repay the judgment debt but that’s an absolute longshot.


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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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