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I’m a Twenty-Something Guy Who Has Made Some Really Poor Financial Choices. – Mike

“Dear Steve,

I’m a twenty-something guy who has made some really poor choices financially in recent years (I’m sure you’ve heard that before…).

About a year ago I consolidated several different credit cards into one extremely large account. This past spring, due to several different financial constraints, the minimum payment on that account became impossible for me to meet. I attempted to negotiate the minimum down with the creditor, but they (predictably) refused. As a result, I have not made a payment on the account since June.

The collection calls began shortly thereafter. I received an initial notification from the collection agency (which I’ve since learned is an in-house collector for the creditor) shortly after the calls began but have received no written correspondence since. I have never responded to the collection agency, either verbally or in writing. The collectors have called my place of employment and my parents’ home, but were told I could not be reached and instructed not to call again.

I changed my phone number about a week ago (along with contacting the phone company and hiding my new number behind a password lock). In addition, I live in the state of Pennsylvania, where wage garnishments are prohibited (although garnishments of bank accounts are permitted, with a court judgment, of course). I have absolutely no assets (i.e., I rent and am still making payments on my car – albeit barely…).

I think you can see what my ultimate question is here. Should I file for bankruptcy or continue my efforts to hide and ride out the statute-of-limitations clock here in Pennsylvania (which is 4 years)? The consolidation account is large (over $20,000) and I’m sure would be a nice prize for a lucky collector. However, I’m sure these people (and their attorneys) perform a cost/benefit analysis on debtors prior to initiating court actions.

Considering I have never acknowledged the debt and, as far as they know, could be lying in a ditch somewhere, should I try my best to wait out the clock? I do not want to file bankruptcy unless absolutely necessary (i.e., they sue) , but considering I honestly hold nothing of value and live in a non-garnishment state, is a lawsuit even likely? Coupled with other financial strains, the dread of opening my mailbox to find a notice from a law firm has become a little much. I feel like a piece of garbage from a moral standpoint, as I realize I’m hiding from my obligations. However, I simply cannot pay on this account. I can barely keep a roof over my head, let alone pay off an outrageous credit balance. Any honest advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Should I file for bankruptcy or wait out the statute-of-limitations clock?

Mike”

The Answer

 

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your question. I think you should file bankruptcy.

If there is no expectation that you are going to be able to afford to repay the money that you borrowed, then filing bankruptcy is the responsible thing to do. Why continue to look over your shoulder in fear and stress?

Some are going to take issue with me for so quickly suggesting bankruptcy. I am not the moral police. I don’t make judgments about if you are a good or a bad person for taking money and then not repaying it. I’ll leave that up to others.

Use this link to get a free bankruptcy consultation from a local bankruptcy attorney.

I look at the situation like this, if you can’t be responsible for repaying the debt, at least be responsible to stand up and address it with bankruptcy, rather than hide in fear.

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About Steve Rhode

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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