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Best strategy for paying off judgments?


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Hi there - I have two judgments against me - one for $1,200 from 2003, and one for $3,200 from 2004. I've been successful in getting at least one off of every credit report, but I'm now in the market to buy a house, so I want to take care of these outright so that it doesn't affect that purchase.

Does anyone have any advice on the best way to get these showing as paid without being raked over the financial coals? What's my first step after getting the information for the CAs that won the judgments at the courthouse? Do I send them a certified letter telling them that I'm ready to pay the judgment and see what they come back with in terms of an amount? (I know interest has accumulated)

And does contacting the CAs and paying this off put me in any jeopardy of others coming after me for money for other things? I was reckless in my youth and had several delinquencies that I'm sure fell off my credit report just before I checked it for the first time in March of 07.

I know that I'm going to pay some type of interest on what's accumulated, but I'd rather not pay through the nose. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks!

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Contact the attorney for the plaintiff for each and tell them somebody has agreed to help you settle the judgment if it can be done for a reasonable amount.

See if you can get it done for 50 cents on the dollar.

Be sure to obtain and file satisfactions if state law doesn't require it of the plaintiff. Also be sure to negotiate that no forms 1099c will issue for any discount you get.

This is not going to wake up any old creditors unless the TLs that produced the judgments are still on your reports and the OC or CA updates them to "settled" or "paid" or what-have-you.

But a mortgage pull will sure wake up old creditors, if any are still lurking. Check the hard and soft pulls of your reports for any suspects who do not appear as TLs at the moment ... they could be waiting for an opportunity to pop a reaged TL on your reports when you are in the mortgage application process ... they know all too well that you will be vulnerable at that time.

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This is great advice - thanks very much. A few questions:

1. Does the attorney for the plaintiff have any way of finding out how much money I make during this process to determine how much I can actually pay?

2. Is the best way to make contact with the attorney CMRRR?

3. The files I pull at the courthouse will have the attorney info, correct? (Right now, just the CA names are listed on the report) Since this happened years ago, if the attorney is no longer with the company, what do I do?

4. A satisfaction is a letter they send me telling me that the judgment is satisfied, correct?

and finally...

5. Does the judgment fall off seven years from the date of the judgment or seven years from the date of satisfaction? The judgments are in NY and I live in NJ.

Thanks!

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This is great advice - thanks very much. A few questions:

1. Does the attorney for the plaintiff have any way of finding out how much money I make during this process to determine how much I can actually pay?

Sure. He can ask you. Chance are you'll be under oath when he does.

2. Is the best way to make contact with the attorney CMRRR?

Regular mail will do. If he's not representing the client anymore he should pass the letter along to whoever is. In the unlikely even you don't hear anything back, take that as a sign you may need to pay into the registry of the court to satisfy the judgment (assuming the judgment creditor can't be found by you). The bad news is, no discounty if you pay the registry.

3. The files I pull at the courthouse will have the attorney info, correct? (Right now, just the CA names are listed on the report) Since this happened years ago, if the attorney is no longer with the company, what do I do?

If an individual in practice represented him, contact that attorney, wherever he may have landed. If a firm represented him, contact the firm. Occasionally, firms will break up into unrecognizable pieces and the attorney will have moved to Guam. If that's the case try to find out who represents the judgment creditor now, and if that doesn't work, see if state corporate records or old press reports give any clue as to how, when, and into what successor firms the old firm dissolved. Stuff like that makes news.

4. A satisfaction is a letter they send me telling me that the judgment is satisfied, correct?

Not a letter. A legal document in recordable form with the same style as the original case.

and finally...

5. Does the judgment fall off seven years from the date of the judgment or seven years from the date of satisfaction? The judgments are in NY and I live in NJ.

Thanks!

Miight fall of 7 years from the date rendered regardless of satisfaction (doesn't mean it's not still out there and enforceable). And a satisfaction might stay for 7 years (since it's technically not a derog), but typically you can knock a paid J off with a dispute or two. They're not very sticky.

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This is great! Thank you. Final question (hopefully) - and just to clarify - I definitely want to talk to the attorney and NOT the CA, correct? I just got an e-mail for the CAs, and was trying to save myself a (currently impossible without taking a day off of work) trip down to the courthouse, but if that's a bad idea, I'll make it work. Thanks so much!

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This is great! Thank you. Final question (hopefully) - and just to clarify - I definitely want to talk to the attorney and NOT the CA, correct? I just got an e-mail for the CAs, and was trying to save myself a (currently impossible without taking a day off of work) trip down to the courthouse, but if that's a bad idea, I'll make it work. Thanks so much!

If you get the CA on record saying they'll arrange for the satisfaction then you're OK. No law says that you can't deal directly with the CA even after the attorney has become involved. It won't make the attorney happy, but that's his problem.

One of the things I've seen before is a situation where a subsequent JDB buys an account that an OC or other JDB has already obtained judgment on but the new JDB doesn't seem to realize it ('cause they didn't buy "media" just a database listing). That puts debtors in a bit of a quandary (although if the attorney who is handling the case is in a quandary too and nothing's happening on the legal front it can be a blessing in disguise).

Anyway, if the CA you're dealing with shows any sign of not knowing about the judgment (lack of communication can occur inside any organization) you don't want them to realize that they have that much leverage, so you want to negotiate in a way that will include some language that would require them to satisfy the judgment but that isn't specific about its existence, then spring it on 'em after you've paid. Something like "Creditor agrees that on receipt of payment resolving this matter it will cease all collection activity and cause any record relating to the underlying debt appearing on the records of any credit reporting agency to appear with a paid notation."

A key problem with the JDB that doesn't know a judgment exists is that their paperwork might not be good enough to allow them to actually put a valid satisfaction on record (they need to show a chain of assignments of the debt). In a case like that, you might have 'em on fraud, which would be really fun! Of course, if your goal is to get your court records cleaned up in a reasonable time, it wouldn't be so much fun.

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  • 1 month later...

So I sent a letter saying that I wanted to talk about paying off the judgment and didn't get a response, but instead got a letter from a marshall about a wage garnishment...what do I do at this point? It's more than I wanted to pay ($1,800 total when the judgment was about $600 less), but I also don't want this getting to my employer. I'm supposed to send the money to the marshall. Will they then file the right papers to clear up? Thanks.

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Marshals have many strange and wonderful powers in NY ... they also get a "piece of the action" unlike public officials elsewhere (a percentage of the take). They are quasi-governmental collectors, and there is some history of them going corrupt in one way or another. Leaving off the second "L" helps in searching on them. Your spelling is incorrect. They can also be quite busy, and perhaps ready to do something the easy way when it brings in less money rather than the hard way even if it could allow them to do better.

I'd say negotiate it as best you can with him ... garnishment is a path that carries uncertainties for them (you have exemptions that might push the periodic amount they can take way down and you should calculate what they would be--also, is your employer even in NY, or do they have a presence in NY as well as NJ?), the place where you work may not be on your credit reports right now and he might have a devil of a time making you tell him since you're not living in NY--or you might change jobs or move, and your bank account might be in a small inconspicuous bank or even out of state where he can't get at it without using the UEFJA to file the J in NJ or even some other third state he doesn't know about (and you aren't telling).

Make them give you a satisfaction in recordable form ... hold off recording it until you've handled the other one and any collections that might pop back up (if you've got hard or soft pulls that aren't explainable by the judgments and/or existing creditors and/or folks who are marketing to you). It keeps the dogs off the hunt...

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