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Frozen with fear - please give direction.

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Hi there,

I'm another newbie to the board and really don't know all the questions I should be asking in regard to my situation so I'll give my details.

I buried myself in debt about 8 years ago when I lost my job and was without work for 3+ years. At that time, I had A1 credit and used my credit cards to live - house, car payments, food, etc. It got to the point where I was using one card to pay off another - love those balance transfers - and eventually, I just couldn't keep up and stopped paying them all except American Express. Ended up probably $35,000 in debt.

I have been stacking up the collection letters (not even opened) and not answering the collection calls for years with the hope/belief that if I didn't respond, eventually these would all disappear from my credit reports. The stress, anguish and guilt from this keeps me feeling close to breaking down - I hate to get my mail and dread the ring of the phone. Some of the recent calls and letters are coming from attorneys.

Four years ago, I finally found a good job. I make a decent salary and have saved some money (paid for a used car in full last year). I use my Am Ex card (only card I have) for business travel and pay it in full monthly. My house, utilities, and phone payments are up to date.

After finding your board and reading through pages and pages of posts, I am even more nervous that these creditors/CA's can attach (wrong term?) my bank account, house, car, sue me and garnish my wages. I work for a small company who places high regard on a person's character and something like this would severly damage my future with them and be devastatingly embarrassing (not to mention the fear I have of losing my money/house/car).

I haven't pulled my credit reports (should I use the freebie sites?) and don't have my papers in order to say when last payments were made as I'm on the road this week.

Can someone tell me where to even start with this mess? I have no idea of the order of steps I should take to help myself.

I am grateful to have found this site and for you taking the time to read this - I promise my future posts will be short.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

IINB :oops:

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Ok, first thing you need to do is get your credit reports, all 3 of them. Do NOT get a tri-merge, they lack critical details. It only costs $9 each.

When you get them, go thru them and look for the 'date of last activity' as well as the charge-off dates. Derogs can only stay on your reports for 7 yrs +180 days from the 1st delinquency that let to charge-off.

Once you've figured you the Date of Last activity, you'll be able to figure out whether or not you are beyond the Statute of Limitations (SOL) for legal action. The SOL in IA for credit cards is 5 years, so if the last time you actually paid any of these creditors was more than 5 years ago, they cannot legally sue you. If they do, you have an affirmative defense in the expired SOL to have the case thrown out.

If the debts are beyond the SOL, the ONLY thing you have to do to get rid of the collectors is to send them a cease and desist letter telling them never to contact you again about the debt as it is time-barred. Should you need that letter, I can point you to an excellent letter to use.

If you're not beyond the legal SOL, then you need to make some other decisions.

Start there first, let us know what you find, and we'll take it from there :)

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