Judgment on old debt, want it off my credit, need a new card.

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w0cky
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Judgment on old debt, want it off my credit, need a new card.

Postby w0cky » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:15 am

So I have this old debt from when I was in my early 20s, from a Target card that was automatically upgraded to a VISA card at some point. I ended up defaulting on the payments when I lost my job, and the card was maxed out at the time, at $1600. It seems silly now to have defaulted on a card with that kind of balance, but, well, I did.

After collections, the balance was picked up by a headhunter company (that calls themselves a "legal firm") who jacked up the balance to over $4000, with a bunch of questionable fees and interest. At this point I would gladly pay back the original $1600 balance to get the unpaid debt off my credit, but unfortunately, the "legal firm" managed to receive a judgment on the balance right around the time the Statute of Limitations would have rendered the debt obsolete in Oregon.

I am put in a bind because of it now, as I am going to need to drive a rental car into Mexico this January, but my rental company (and presumably all rental companies) require that the Mexican insurance be paid for on a major credit card, and have been specific that a debit card (which is what I will use to rent the actual car) will not work.

So ideally I'd like to get this blemish off my credit once and for all, but I'm simply not willing to pay $4k on a $1600 debt.. and in the more immediate term, I need to get my hands on an AmEx or VISA card by January.

Any thoughts or suggestions regarding my situation would be greatly appreciated, thank you.


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Postby MemberSince99 » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:16 am

If that company won't take a debit card find one that does. I would think any debit card that has the VISA or Mastercard logo should be fine. If that particular company won't do it, find another. Or do a cash deposit if for some reason you want to stay with them and can do it.

Not sure you are going to get an Amex with an open collection like that they tend to frown upon that kind of thing.

As far as what you are willing to pay, that's irrelevant at this point - they have a legal judgement on you and if they can find you, they can garnish your wages or seize your assets (like money from your checking account) depending on the state you live in. Opting not to respond to the judgement demand for your employment and assets puts you in contempt of court meaning you can be arrested. So what you are "willing" to give them is no longer important - you should have gotten notice (been served in legal terms) of the court action and shown up, or better yet negotiated a settlement prior to the court date. Now why would they bargain with you when they have a legal judgement on you? You gave up essentially any leverage you had to bargain by not showing up in court.

And don't you think since they got a judgement on you that they are watching you, monitoring your credit, and that any application you have for credit you are asked for your address and phone, and they will have the bureaus watching you and as soon as they see that, they will give that to the company and you will then be hounded? And if you list your employer then they will know where you work as well. Likewise if they know your bank account they will seize assets from that, so you must have switched. But as soon as you poke your head up, and you will one way or another eventually, they will be there to nab you and they have 20 years to get you and can renew it essentially for the rest of your life. They will have the DMV watch you, they will check voter registration, any credit inquiry, the list goes on as to the ways they have to find you. They will even call your references pretending to be your old long lost high school buddy who wants to get in touch or say they have a job for you. They will send you cute little cards in the mail hinting they have a surprise for you if you call this number, oh yeah they have a surprise for you all right.

You think I'm joking here? I speak from personal experience. Hiding from them is a rough way to live, you may as well just get it over with and move on with your life.

Just a ramble to the wise, and things to think about. You go applying for cards you are giving them a bead on your location. Get used to no credit of any sort until you are prepared to pay or you are judgement proof and if you are judgement proof you won't get credit most likely.

w0cky
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Postby w0cky » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:35 am

Thanks for the reply. There are no car rental companies in the US that will allow you to drive the car into Mexico without a major credit card. Debit cards are expressly not accepted in this case, so they claim. However, my debit card LOOKS like a credit card. I don't know if there is really any other way for them to tell.. Perhaps the debit card will work just fine. I can't really risk depending on that though, so my plan for the time being is to apply for a secured card with the bank from which I got my car loan (now paid off).

As for the debt, I am certainly not opposed to paying it off, but realistically I have little choice but to continue "avoiding" them for the time being. They obtained the judgment at a very inopportune time for me, because I was served papers the night before leaving the country for a month, and was already a bit too frazzled in trying to get packed and prepared to really read through everything. Part of me wonders if this wasn't orchestrated based on the firm having some access to information on my flight itinerary, in hopes of preventing my response.. If not it was at least very well timed for them. For the record, there was no court date, just a paper saying "respond to this within 30 days if you dispute it." Of course I packed these papers around with me, INTENDING to do something about it, but... you know, sometimes there isn't time for everything, especially when you are in a foreign country and don't exactly know what you'd do about it even at home with access to the computer and all that. Now, it is what it is and I have to figure out what to do from here. I've had a number of other debts (including a much larger one), all of which I have eventually paid off over the years. But this one has continued to sit simmering on the back burner. I'm ready to start on this one next, but obviously I am still hesitant at the same time.

What would be really helpful is any advice on how to deal with these people to get the balance reduced to something reasonable. I have a feeling asking nicely isn't going to cut it. My debt was $1600 and you can bet the headhunter firm bought it from the creditor for significantly less than that. I do realize it's naive to think I can avoid them forever, or that I can just "stick it to em" by not paying (though, to be clear, if there were a way to stick it to em, I'd love to know what it is).. What I am "willing to pay" is deeply rooted in what I am currently "able to pay"... but I would also like to satisfy my idealist side some by at least seeing the balance dropped to something less exploitative before I start making said payments.

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Postby MemberSince99 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:01 am

Ok I got you. Going to Mexico may be diffeernt still try Googling it and see if you can find another solution.

The problem is, it's a little late to worry about the amount now. They got the judgement, you were served, you needed to respond in 30 days, or you need to convince a judge why you simply could not do so. The judge is going to assume that if it were important for you to defend yourself, you would (and should) have done so when you had the chance, not after the fact.

Because of this, it's going to be very difficult to try to get it reduced now. From their viewpoint, they got the judgement on you,why give you a break now when they can just go after your house/bank account/wages for the full amount IF they can find you to do it? And it's getting harder to hide from these people all the time. Heck even keeping the fascist govenrment out of our email conversations and phone calls is becoming difficult, let alone trying to hide from people you owe money to.

So I don't have advice at this stage. If you were just served you would have leverage, but now that leverage is diminished since they got the judgement and you were properly served (and no I don't think they knew you were leaving they just "got" you in time).

You can try, but since they got the judgement on you, when they get a bead on you and your assets, expect to see them move in like a drunken frat boy on a cheerleader (ok maybe that's an inappropriate analogy here but you get the idea).

I'd suggest if you can, getting a loan you can pay over time for the judgement amount. Once you have the money, contact them using a cheap throwaway phone or via a garbage email address you create on Yahoo or Gmail, tell them your name and account number (use fake info for the email account by the way) and tell them that you'd like to put this behind you and move on in life but that things are tough right now and would they take a flat amount X say 3K if you could raise the money right now to settle this in full and give that to you in writing?

Watch out for their tricks, but even if they sting you, you have the money so you aren't out more than you would have been anyway, and you MAY be able to work a bargain this way. You could hire a lawyer to negotiate for you but he can't do anything more than you can do at this point and that will cost you further $$$ and if it was for a big amount of money that might make sense but for 4k it's not worth it.

Think about this too - if you were them and you got the judgement would you suddenly agree to take massively less if you figure eventually you'll find the person and get them anyway? It might take years, if you screw up and it's easy to do, they will get you. Even those background checks for jobs check your credit and they ask your address, you put in your real address and they will soon know where you live and your new employer too potentially and are a step closer to nailing you. I can tell you when I was hiding from them, I screwed up once and put my current PO Box on the background check form. Lucikly Experian screwed up by sending me a letter there thanking me for updating my information with them - I immediately and I mean RIGHT NOW closed that box and opened another in another city. But that's what you are facing, living in constant fear, it became a way of life for me that took a while to break once I didn't have to do it anymore but because they have a judgement on you, it won't end after 6 years with the SOL like my private hell did. So don't live like I did man, I hated it. Do what you have to do to put this behind you and be done with it and be wiser for the future.

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Postby djrez4 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:59 pm

If I may speak as a lawyer who has done collection work before (and please understand that I'm not offering you legal advice or in any way saying I'm your attorney):

Member is a bit paranoid about how collection firms get your information. It's not some grand conspiracy to track you down with drones hovering over your house and NSA agents hiding in the bushes. Collection agencies don't - and can't - enlist the DMV or the credit reporting agencies to help them track you down and collect from you. They have access to the same background check websites that everyone else does and pay for updated information when they feel the need to do so. Reports from those services include address updates via the DMV and, if requested, credit reports.

He is, however, correct that if you fail to comply with a court order, the court can hold you in contempt and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. The police won't actively seek you out, but if you get pulled over they may haul you into jail.

The process server should have served you with a summons indicating when and where you needed to appear in front of the court. If you only received a verification letter (respond in 30 days if you dispute), you may not have been properly served. If you still have the paperwork, take a second look at it and see what you were actually served with. Improper service is a good way to get a judgment set aside.

If you don't have the money to pay, forget about the collection agency for a moment. Pursue it through the court via a motion to set aside the judgment. There are plenty of self-help templates online. It really just need to include a statement that you weren't served properly and didn't have notice of the trial date. I don't know Oregon law, but there should be something in the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure that gives you something to go off of.

If you can come up with a lump sum that will pay the $1600, plus actual attorney fees (they should be listed separately in the judgment), the company may settle. I don't have enough information to handicap those odds for you, though.

As far as the rental car goes, you are going to have trouble finding a company that will rent to you without a credit card. If you have a friend or family member willing to put theirs down on the deposit form, you can still pay the final bill with a debit card when you return.
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Postby DoingHomework » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:58 pm

djrez4 wrote:He is, however, correct that if you fail to comply with a court order, the court can hold you in contempt and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. The police won't actively seek you out, but if you get pulled over they may haul you into jail.

And add to the unlikely but possible category...Immigration can and often does do a routine check for warrants at border entry. A person with a contempt warrant could find themselves in Federal custody while waiting to be claimed by the marshals of the court that issued the judgement. Not likely, but as someone who travels to Mexico occasionally, I would not rule it out. I certainly would not drive into Mexico if I had an outstanding judgement against me.

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Postby MemberSince99 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:19 am

djrez4, I know you're a lawyer, but I was hunted by these people, and I can tell you that they do in fact monitor your credit reports for new accounts. That's how they almost got me once. I was dumb enough to take an offer from HSBC for a card in the mail, it was low limit, but I wanted to rebuild my credit so I could buy a home someday. The problem was, it was still within SOL and the vultures were still hunting me.

So no, I never tried to say the NSA is helping hunt you but if you think the bill collectors aren't you are dreaming. And they can get deals from the CRAs to be notified of changes to certain people's accounts. Or they can simply make it a point to pull your credit themselves. (My vultures were doing it right up until the time the SOL ran).

And in my state (WI) I read that collections attorneys can get DMV lists as well for a price. They can also get voting registration lists (public information). Do you REALLY think the DMV doesn't sell your info to whoever will pay the right price for it? That's why you get those scam vehicle warranty solicitations in the mail saying "CALL NOW OR YOUR ENGINE WILL BLOW UP AND YOU WILL DESTROY YOUR LIFE!!!!!" Yeah those goofy things.

So, I have personal experience being hunted by them and they came uncomfortably close to nabbing me a couple of times. It's an experience I wouldn't want to repeat or wish on anyone.

And for the record the NSA *IS* spying on you, and me and everyone, and the more they deny it the more it means they are doing it as this government only seems to know how to lie with everything they say.

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Postby djrez4 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:09 pm

I think we're agreeing that the info is available, but disagreeing in the mechanism for obtaining it. I'm telling you what I can do, under the law. I can pull credit. The CRAs can provide it to me. But we don't get special treatment from them. We can subscribe just like anyone else.

And the DMV doesn't send us info unless we request it.

We're arguing push vs pull.
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Postby DoingHomework » Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:19 pm

djrez4 wrote:I think we're agreeing that the info is available, but disagreeing in the mechanism for obtaining it. I'm telling you what I can do, under the law. I can pull credit. The CRAs can provide it to me. But we don't get special treatment from them. We can subscribe just like anyone else.

And the DMV doesn't send us info unless we request it.

We're arguing push vs pull.


djrez,

I'm sure you know your stuff and I'm not really challenging anything that you say. But I've had a couple of fairly recent experiences that relate to what you are saying.

First off, in my state the DMV does make information available. I don't know if collection agencies routinely use it but I do know that the DMV provides it by subscription.

I also had some idiot use my phone number for an account then skip on a debt. The person was in the same town as me. I started getting calls from a collection agency in Colorado, which I think is where you are. The person had not used my name or anything else so it was relatively easy to clear up. I complained to the Colorado Attorney General's office and they were somewhat helpful. But they wanted me to provide additional personal information. I refused and instead demanded that the calls stop or that they produce evidence of authority to call me. I pointed out that they lack that authority under Federal law (since I could document ordering them to stop) and that I could find no authority under Colorado law to make calls across state lines. Guess what...I got a letter a few weeks later apologizing. And the calls completely stopped.

So my conclusion is that Colorado law places restrictions that not even the attorneys that specialize in this fully understand. I'm not saying YOU don't understand them. I'm just saying that it is not hard to believe that other attorneys and collection agencies might do things that you don't. Some of those things might be illegal and some not.

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Postby djrez4 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:53 pm

No, I get it. But, what you're saying is that some collection company was breaking the rules we're supposed to follow. I doubt it's a lack of understanding; more a lack of caring. I'm 100% with you on that. They're assholes and they should follow the laws.

When that guy used your phone number, it became attached to your name in one of the databases we use for background info. My reports come back with a list of addresses, past and present, and a list of phone numbers (along with a whole bunch of other info). We try to figure out which one is right. Other places shotgun it and call everyone. That's why you were getting calls.

And, let me be more clear - I'm not saying the DMV doesn't provide information to whomever pays for it. We're disagreeing on the mechanism. What I'm saying is that the DMV won't push changes in address to us. If you update your vehicle registration, I won't get an alert. But, there are companies out there that pull the DMV data daily and you can buy the information from or subscribe through them.

(As far as making calls across state lines goes, nothing specifically stops us from doing that, however, some states require that a collection company be licensed in that state - even if they do business somewhere else - before they can perform any collection actions within the state. Minnesota comes to mind.)
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