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A Lawyer Office Says They Will Garnish My Wages and Take My Tax Return If I Don’t Pay By Tomorrow. – Annette

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

Someone called from a lawyers office claiming i have credit card debt from 2004, they said that is when my last payment was. Now they are threatening if i dont make an arrangement by tomorrow morning that the guy is coming to collect my paperwork and turn it in to the IRS with a 1099C and they can garnish my wages which i dont work, or put a lien on my property which i dont own any property. They also said if im on any income tax return they can take the whole return even if someone elses name is on also.

My question is can they really take an income tax return with my name on it? I do have a truck thats paid for , can they take that? Can they really send this to the IRS? Thanks Annette


Dear Annette,

Sounds like you are being played by a crafty debt collector.

First off, there is a lot we need to know first about this debt. It is so old now that the statute of limitations might have expired and they can’t sue you over it.

We don’t even know if it is a valid debt. Determining if it is a valid debt would be the first thing to do before admitting any responsibility for the debt. To determine the validity read Debt Validation Finally Defined. What You Should Ask a Collector or Creditor for to Validate a Debt.

When a debt is charged off, which this debt was in 2004 or 2005, the 1099C should have probably been issued at that time. A 1099C is a form to report forgiven debt to the IRS and if you were not insolvent back then, you might have owed income tax on the forgiven debt.

If they report it now, you can dispute the reporting with the IRS and let them know the forgiven debt is being misreported in the current tax year. It’s not a big deal and you can easily deal with that issue.

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Regarding the interception of your tax return, that sounds like a total untrue scare tactic in this situation. If this was for a student loan or government debt then maybe they could, but this is for an old credit card debt.

What I suspect is happening is the debt collector sensed some fear in your voice and is trying to scare you into admitting the debt is yours, making a payment arrangement, or manipulating you into paying them money you might not even owe.

Rather than operate out of fear, let the collector know that if you do owe a valid debt you would be happy to address the issue but you first need for them to provide you with detailed information, as shown here, so you can determine if you truly do owe the debt.

Also let the collector know you will also need to evaluate if the debt has expired under the statute of limitations as well. And then leave the ball in their court to respond.

Encourage the collector to send you the supporting documentation by mail so you can promptly deal with this. My guess is they will try to manipulate you one last time on the phone but will be unable to validate this old debt.

For a manipulative debt collector like the one you described, the most potent way to fight back is by knowing what to ask for and not to react out of fear.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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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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