Judgments can be intimidating, but are reversible
When your money is tight and you can’t pay your bills on time, the inevitable result is that you’ll be contacted by debt collectors. Sometimes collections agents will be reasonable and obey Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulations. But there are some collectors that are unscrupulous and will harass you, lie to you and go beyond the bounds of the law. One of the shady tactics employed by unethical debt collectors is obtaining judgments through sneaky (and illegal) means.
Did You Get a Judgment on a Lawsuit You Knew Nothing About?
We frequently have clients that come in for debt and bankruptcy counseling tell us that they received notifications of a judgment against them as a result of a lawsuit they knew nothing about. And the bad news is, with a judgment in hand, a creditor can move rapidly to garnish your wages or try and levy your bank account. You can fight back against a judgment obtained through shady tactics, but you have to move faster than the sneaky debt collector!
How Debt Collectors Get Judgments Illegally
For some court cases, the sheriff’s department will file the notice so there is verification of service. This is common with divorce, child custody cases and personal injury lawsuits. But with debt collection suits, the responsibility for serving the suit can be taken on by the creditor or collection agent that filed the claim. Unethical collectors will tell the court you were served and when you fail to respond or appear (because you knew nothing about it), the creditor gets a default judgment.
Bankruptcy can be an effective solution to debt collection
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How to Fight Back Against a Judgment That Was Wrongly Granted
If you get a judgment you know was obtained without due process, don’t take it lying down! You can go to the court and file a Motion to Set Aside a Default Judgment. In this filing, you must explain that you weren’t properly served and ask that the judgment be reversed. If the creditor cannot substantiate that you were served, you stand a reasonable chance of getting the judgment overturned. You can even file this request on your own for just the cost of a filing fee.
Discharging Judgments in Bankruptcy
If your debts are so significant that you cannot hope to pay them, bankruptcy may be an option for you to consider. If your only issue is one judgment, you may want to try and settle the debt. But if the judgment (whether it was obtained using shady tactics or not) is part of an overall debt dilemma, a chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best way to rid yourself of your debts and get a financial fresh start.
Contact the law offices of John T. Orcutt for a free consultation on whether a North Carolina bankruptcy is right for you!