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Old Judgements - Can't reach the plaintiff


kissinger99
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Let me first apologize if this is the wrong forum to post this question, but it would help my credit to get this cleared up!

I have two old judgements on my credit report. One will come off in a few months and the other in 2006. Neither of them had ever been satisfied and I haven't heard anything about them in ages.

However, I am wanting to buy a house now so I need these to be paid off or vacated. First thing I tried was to contact the plaintiffs listed and offer up a settlement. No reply to either. One letter was returned with incorrect address stamped on it.

My question is, can I have these judgements vacated if I am unable to reach the plaintiff to pay?

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Just chiming in here, but I think if you want a judgment vacated, you have to prove that you have contacted or attempted to contact the plaintiff at their current or last known valid address. For the one that was returned to you -- if that was a company -- you may have to track down the owner or former owner.

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Check corporate records in your state to see if the corporations still exist and where they are (if they're corps). You could try a paid search service if the judgment creditors are individual people.

If you don't get lucky finding them, you have two alternatives. If you have even the thinnest of grounds for getting them vacated, give it a whirl. It could save a lot of money.

Otherwise, the court may have a mechanism where you can pay your judgment and interest into the registry of the court and have the court itself issue a satisfaction. One benefit of this approach is that if the monies go unclaimed, you may actually get them back after a few years.

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One is for a former landlord and the other is for a "Payday" loan company that went out of business after our state or local laws changed to say that they couldn't charge so much for their "loans"

Was the landlord an individual or a business entity (Corp or LLC or LP or what-have-you)?

As for the payday loan company. When a company goes out of business, its former owners are the ones who jointly own any remaining assets, provided creditors got paid. Or, the bankruptcy court may have disposed of its assets for the benefit of creditors. Point is, someone somewhere owns the asset that is that judgment (whether they realize they own it [or still own it] or not). But if you can't find 'em, the court should be able to provide you a solution, either by vacating or letting you pay into the registry.

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From another point of view . . . I have a judgment against someone. I moved since I got the judgment and filed a Change of Address with the Court, so you might check with the Court Clerk to see if something like that exists.

Also, the "payday" loan company might still be doing business in a neighboring state as the laws may allow them to operate there. Check with those states and see if there is a "corporate office" in another state you could contact.

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I think you are going to be in for a big suprise.

Judgments don't just "fall off" your credit report.

Judgments stay on your credit report the longer of 7 years or the statute of limitations for the judgment, which can be 10 to 20 years depending on your state. If you live in a state that has a 5 year SOL on judgments, you might be able to dispute and get it off after 7 years. Otherwise you are going to have a heck of a time.

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If you were not properly served or the affidavit of debt was incorrect (or fraudulent-cough-ASSet-cough)on the paperwork you should be able to get the judment vacated. Check the rules of the court in which the judgment was entered. You might have an easier time than you think. They usually have people that help you free of charge and tell you how to get a hearing, fill out paperwork, etc.

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I realize the judgements stay on for 7 years regardless of whether they are paid or not. But I need to pay them off or have them vacated to buy a house. Now would they still stay on my report if they were vacated?

And really, I have no grounds for vacating the judgements if they don't vacate them for not being able to contact the plaintiffs.

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If you've moved around a bit since the judgments were rendered, you might try disputing the addresses where you lived at when they were rendered off your credit report, then waiting a couple of months and disputing the judgments themselves as "not mine".

Just keep in mind that judgments have a life independent of whether they appear on credit reports, and they can still cause problems buying a home, either by virtue of a "full factual" (RMCR) credit report being run for a home loan over $150k (not always done over $150k, but it can be), or at the title insurance stage, where upon a grantee search the judgment may show up as a lien that would be superior to your mortgagee's lien ... meaning the mortgagee will balk at making the loan.

These latter issues may not be so meaningful if you have changed counties, and may be even less meaningful if you've changed states in the time since the judgments were rendered. But out-of-state judgments can be filed against you in your new home state, it just takes extra effort on the judgmentholder's part.

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I mean look at the paperwork. When you are served, it says who was served and where. If you don't remember being served, most likely they did not serve you. They served someone else somewhere else. Was it served at the address you were living at durign that time? If you were not properly served and therefore did not know about the courtdate so you could defend yourself, you can get the judgment vacated.

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The only paperwork that I have about these cases are copies of the notices of claim that I got from the clerk of courts after seeing the judgements on my credit report.

This stuff all happened 7-8 years ago and truthfully I don't remember anything about them. Both would have been entered in default because I'm sure I didn't go to court for them.

Can anyone offer any other suggestions on reasons for vacating a judgement, and is there a sol on when it would have to be filed?

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Contact the court house and get a copy of the files on these. Look at the certificate of service and see how you were served. If you did not know about them it is likely that you were not properly served. Then it is a quick matter of filing the proper paperwork to get the judgement vacated, take the paperwork from that action and send it to the 3 CRA's and request deletion.

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Wouldn't you just dispute them with the CRA? If you can't locate them then how can they? and if they did wouldnt they have the updated info so you could contact them?

If the CRA can't verify them don't they fall off? I think I'd go that route first, if that route is possible.

Or is their way of verifying to call the court house?

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When they verify judgments, they supposedly have someone go to the court or search a database to see if the case has been paid. At no point do they try to contact the oc. And I need to actually clear these up, not just get them off my credit report, to get approved for a home.

I was just trying to find out if not being able to reach them was grounds for vacating. But it looks like I am going to have to pay the full amount to the court and let them have my money.

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Wouldn't you just dispute them with the CRA? If you can't locate them then how can they? and if they did wouldnt they have the updated info so you could contact them?

If the CRA can't verify them don't they fall off? I think I'd go that route first, if that route is possible.

Or is their way of verifying to call the court house?

Judgments are verified via a third party, generally Lexis-Nexis, who gets updated records from courthouses.

The fact that one can't pay a judgment doesn't change the fact of its existence.

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Served by the Sheriff means squat. I was served by the Sheriff once myself many years ago. He gave the summons to the clerk at Mailboxes etc. to put it in my mailbox and guess what, it got thrown out of court. You have to see exactly how they accomplished the service so you know where you stand. Yes paying off the Judgement would clear up an open judgement, but getting it vacated would mean it is gone. How likely do you think they are to refile, especially if they are out of business.

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