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I have been lurking around on this forum for a month or so, and have been trying to learn as much as I can. Frankly, it is all very confusing to me, and I am very intimidated by fighting anyone in court, but have not giving up on that option. Let me start with a general background. I got a divorce about 5 years ago, and bought a house after the divorce. Had to use the credit cards for moving expenses and for repairs on the house (it was a foreclosure and everything that could go wrong, went wrong). I realized about 2 years ago that I was getting into deep debt and was in trouble, so I closed all of my accounts (except for Discover). I then called the credit card companies and got on a payment plan with 2 of them. One (Target) would not work with me and would not lower the interest rate or put me on any kind of payment plan, but 2 of them did. I then paid on all of them for the past 2 years on time. About 8 months ago, my business took a nose dive. Sales pretty much dropped off overnight. I started robbing my savings account to pay these credit card bills. Well, about 5 months ago, all the savings were gone, so I had no options other that to stop paying these cards. I have 4 credit cards that I had to stop paying sometime in August of this year. So, it's only been about 4 months since my last payment to all of them.The total combined debt to all of them is around $25,000. I have been considering bankrupcy, but hate to do that for fear of having to sell my house. I have a house with a mortgage and a used car with no payments. Currently not behind on my other bills, because I stopped paying the credit cards. I do not have the funds to settle with the credit cards at all. I have nothing left other than my house and the car. BTW, I live in TN. A couple weeks ago, one of my credit cards (Target National Bank), sent me a letter saying that they were going to place my account with a law firm for further collection efforts. Today I get a letter from that said law firm (Patenaude & Felix) saying that I had 30 days to dispute the debt and recieve verification of the debt or they may just obtain a judgement and mail me a copy of the judgement. Now, I am still getting bills from the original creditor (Target). Got one on the same day as I got this letter from the law firm, as a matter of fact. So, my question is, do I still go ahead and go through the process of debt validation when I'm pretty sure that Target has not charged the debt off yet? I mean, I'm still getting bills from the original creditors and it's only been 4 months. If I do validate with the law firm, I would say the chances are high that they would be able to validate everything that I ask of them. What do you think? Do I still send the validation letter? I was thinking that they wouldn't threaten to sue for awhile, so I am kind of taken off guard here. Any advice on what I should do would be appreciated. Please understand that I am not the brightest bulb in the box, so don't follow along quite as quickly as others.
I will provide the summerized version of my historic debt with the collection efforts, all aided with my procrastination. On some 8 different bank cards used by me through the 1990's. My usage of these cards stopped early 2000. The combined outstanding debt with accumulated late fees and interest I estimate to be approximately $70,000. At one point around year 2000 I signed with a firm with the intent of seeking to have the debt discharged through bankruptcy filings. I notified the card holders of my pending intended course of action. I failed to complete the filing process and these cards went into assignment with various agencys for collection. My employment status since this time has be, well none to speak of in my field of training. I have no assets, funds, insurance or property of any value. Until today my living situation was covered by a friend, now that too is ending. Annually I have received letters from various companies seeking collection arrangements. I have never responded to these letters. My credit report only shows activity when these correspondance letters are mailed to me. The debt is over 12 years old, I have no means of fullfilling my obligations in regards to this matter, as I have hoped over the recent years that I would be reemployed and would be able to make payment arrangements. Questions are two to start. Bankruptcy, is that still an obtion for me. Secondly how should I handle these collection agencys? All guidance will be greatly appreciated. Regards