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Not sure what course of action I should take regarding a judgement against me.


joe1973
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I'm new here and have been reading over as many posts as I could searching for similar problems, but felt maybe it would be best to share the specifics of my situation and see what you felt. Here is my situation (i'll try to be general as posible for the sake of length, but please ask if i'm leaving something crucial out):

When I was in college back in the mid 90's i ran up a bunch of credit cards. Some of which I never paid off. I have had horrible credit and not much economic luck since. The point of which is that I put off paying back the debt to make ends meet, and really just ignored the collection agencies, as I was dealing w/ other things. The last time I even paid on them was back in late '99 or early '00 through a debt consolidation company that I had to stop making payments to. Didn't think much about it (since i always tried to force my credit problems out of my head) til just recently. Last year I finally landed a job that I was reporting income and filed my taxes earlier this year. I received my federal refund through direct deposit, and was set to receive my state taxes the same way. I received a letter from the state of Michigan saying that they are garnishing my refund to pay towards a judgement against me by a Collection agency. The judgement is for $2300, and was for a citibank credit card. So I guess this is where my questions/concerns come in. Are they now going to come after me after all this time. Can they now start garnishing my wages or worse, my bank accounts (can they get my bank account info through the state refund direct deposit, [i have never used my current bank account to make payments]), now that they have received(or will receive in 28 days) garnished $ from my tax refund. This nightmare was so long ago, that I honestly thought that the credit card companies and the collections would write this off. I am in a postion to try and settle with the company, but just wasn't sure what my next course of action would be, as there are so many loopholes and regulations. I finally seem to be making some headway, but now this has gotten me totally depressed. I want to do the right thing, if that's settling or fighting this as it's from so long ago. Just really not sure what I do from here. I have been reading a bunch of stuff that I wish I would have done before, like going through the debt validation process, but now that they have gotten a judgement and actually garnished my refund, is that hopeless? One last thing I should have stated earlier, as I never received this judgment notice, and didn't even know about it til I received the letter from the state of Michigan about my garnished tax refund. Thanks for any help, and please be as candid as possible, I'm not proud of my past just looking to do the right thing with the little I have.

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I have found over the years of ignoring CA's that debts just dont dissappear. I have been working on paying a lot of things I did in the early 90"s I guess ya should listen when parents tell ya things. thye told me it come back to haunt me and they were right.

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"...judgement..."

You were sued by Citibank under your state's laws. Therefore, for the specifics you will need to research those laws. We can provide general info, but you need the details.

"...come after me after all this time..."

They did 'come after you'. They got a judgment and have taken one of the potential actions available to them to collect the money a judge awarded to them. Other potential actions include wage garnishment, attachment to real property and seizure of bank accounts and other assets. All of these vary from state to state, so look up MI laws to know for sure.

"...would write this off..."

They did. That doesn't mean the debt went away. They wrote it off and sued you for what was owed, including fees and interest.

"...I never received this judgment notice..."

MI law will allow a time period during which you can have a judgment vacated for improper service. Exactly how long that is, and what constitutes proper service are points to research. In Florida this time period is only 12 mos from the date the judgment was granted. After that, you're SOL and I don't mean Statute of Limitations.

The most important thing about any legal action (Public Record) is making sure that after all is said and done that you obtain a proper legal disposition. You also need to have the disposition recorded in the same county Public Records office/department. Many consumers get confused and confounded about this. "Paid" is not a disposition. But, after you pay, the dispositions are Satisfaction of Judgment and Order to Vacate Judgment. The first one will show the judgment as a resolved issue that is no longer a threat to any potential, future lender. The latter will allow you to begin the fight to get it suppressed on your CR. Obviously, aim for the Vacate first, if it's possible.

Try to keep your discouragement to a minimum. Many, many of us were in (and are currently in) worse shape than you. Even your judgment won't last forever. And there's plenty you can do to shape your financial future while it still shows. Keep your chin up!

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Thank you all for the helpful information. After reading your posts and doing some more research I plan to go to the courthouse and get a copy of my file so I can see when exactly this judgement was served. Hopefully then I'll have a better idea of whether or not I am still within Michigan laws for disputing. In the mean time I have another question, if I do find i am 'out of luck', as you say, does that mean that the CA will only take payment in full since they have already won the judgement, or do I have any room left to try and settle out of the debt. And if I can settle and pay this debt, how do I then get the judgement vacated. Since you said paid was not the same thing. Should that be part of the settlement offer, to make sure that they are willing to file (or let me file - not sure how this works) the disposition of judgement. Hope this makes sense, since this is very new to me. Thank you again for your time and help.

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Makes perfect sense.

"...try and settle..."

This will depend upon the plaintiff and their willingness to work with you. They already have the judges ruling to the amount they claimed you owed in court, plus allowed interest and fees, according to MI law. So there is little incentive to discount. On the other hand, sounds like this has a bit of age to it. They may be willing to take less rather than nothing at all, if it's as old as you say it is. Anyway, it's worth a try. If you manage to get the judgment vacated, they would have to sue again and get awarded another judgment; they might really be willing to settle if that is the case...try all those angles.

"...not sure how this works..."

Neither are we. Once again, the specifics are dependant upon MI law. In NJ, the plaintiff is required to file the Satisfaction upon PIF. In Florida, anyone can do it and I suggest that consumers do it themselves, always having it recorded afterwards, just to be sure it gets done. Try to negotiate a Vacate in exchange for payment. Be aware they might bite if you offer PIF rather than payments or a settlement of less than the total. If they won't agree to that, stipulate that they must file, and record, the Satisfaction.

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I can't thank you enough Ahntara, just talking on this board has made me feel so much better. I will try to find Michigan laws relating to vacating judgements. I have some updated information that I had a couple of quick questions on. I just got back from my parents and looked at my credit report that I got in 12/06.(I didn't know anything back then, cuz apparently all I was looking at back then was my score) I did find the judgement(under public records) filed against me, and it said it was filed on 09/03, and that the status was unknown. This confuses me, because when I received the garnish notice from my tax returns by the state, it says that the judgement file was 11/07. So here's my questions/confusion. Is this an old judgement that gets renewed or is there something I'm missing. Also, since last year was the first year I claimed taxes, and now the state will be sending them money in 28 days(according to my notice) would it be wise to try and settle before they receive the money. I'm wondering because this is from so long ago that right now they may think i'm a lost cause(i'm assuming cuz they have never taken any action prior to this tax garnishment) or whatever, but as soon as they get the $ it will bring my case back to their attention and they may try to more aggressively collect on the judgement. I guess i'm trying to find out if I can use anything else to my advantage before it's too late. Anyways, I can't thank you enough for your help so far.

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Dont' mention it. We are all here to help or receive help. In most cases, it's BOTH! :) But I'm glad you're feeling better about your situation. You can begin your research by looking at the sticky above 'Statute of Limitations" for MI. You can also confirm that info by searching net for the same terminology, along with Judgments, Garnishments & Liens. (all relating to MI, of course)

As far as the differences in dates. It's hard for anyone to say without actually seeing your old CR and the new docs. Could be another judgment (not likely) or the more recent date may relate to some kind of 'filing' for seizure of your tax refund. Many states do, indeed, allow for judgments to be renewed. But 4 - 5 years sounds too short of a time frame for that to be the situation. In Florida, judgments are valid for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10...

Since they have intercepted your tax refund...it's really difficult to get things like that straightened out once they actually take place. Not that you shouldn't try, I've just heard so many horror stories of consumers trying to get this type of thing fixed when it was done in error, that I hesitate to advise you to try to straighten out this legitimate one.

I also believe that finally receiving something from you will wake them up. They may start looking for bank accounts and other assets to seize. Start researching your options and make the best decision when you have the facts. One more caution: Don't take my word for it, or anyone else's. It's too easy to ask questions on the net and act as if...No one is infallible (ack! spelling?). Back up what you are told with your own research and double-check the source(s) of information.

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Thank you again Ahntara. You are definitely right that I should check all input to verify for myself, and I understand that everyone here is just trying to help, but I am responsible for myself. I just appreciate the nods in the right direction. :)

I think you were right that the date for the court order was just the date that the CA filed for garnishment fo my tax refund. I also checked the SOL on both debts and judgements. I feel like crying because the debt they received judgement on was clearly past SOL, however, since I didn't know about it...I'm pretty much out of luck. I guess they have been refiling to collect on my taxes since 2003 just to finally catch me once I was trying to get back on my feet. That's the only way I figure that this has been "sleeping" this long.

So now that I know where I stand, I guess that I will try for a settlement (though i'm not holding my breath) or try and work out a payment plan. That's where my last question comes in (just want advice not a magic answer ;)) I see ads for debt consolidation plans that say they can stop garnishing and such by working with CAs. I know I can do everything for myself, but I was wondering if you knew how that worked. Once I get on a plan will they stop aggressively tring to collect funds(through garnishment/seizure). Just feel powerless now, as I know my options, but they don't look good. Should I always pay them with a money order, since they don't yet know where my bank account is. Even if they say they agree to a plan, whats to stop them from seizing or garnishing them??? I feel better now that I know, but feel a little worse now that I know how helpless I appear to be. Any more help would be great, but again, you've been so much help so far..I know you said that's what this board is for, but to a newbie like me, I can't stress it enough!

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Thank you again Ahntara. You are definitely right that I should check all input to verify for myself, and I understand that everyone here is just trying to help, but I am responsible for myself. I just appreciate the nods in the right direction. :)

I think you were right that the date for the court order was just the date that the CA filed for garnishment fo my tax refund. I also checked the SOL on both debts and judgements. I feel like crying because the debt they received judgement on was clearly past SOL, however, since I didn't know about it...I'm pretty much out of luck. I guess they have been refiling to collect on my taxes since 2003 just to finally catch me once I was trying to get back on my feet. That's the only way I figure that this has been "sleeping" this long.

So now that I know where I stand, I guess that I will try for a settlement (though i'm not holding my breath) or try and work out a payment plan. That's where my last question comes in (just want advice not a magic answer ;)) I see ads for debt consolidation plans that say they can stop garnishing and such by working with CAs. I know I can do everything for myself, but I was wondering if you knew how that worked. Once I get on a plan will they stop aggressively tring to collect funds(through garnishment/seizure). Just feel powerless now, as I know my options, but they don't look good. Should I always pay them with a money order, since they don't yet know where my bank account is. Even if they say they agree to a plan, whats to stop them from seizing or garnishing them??? I feel better now that I know, but feel a little worse now that I know how helpless I appear to be. Any more help would be great, but again, you've been so much help so far..I know you said that's what this board is for, but to a newbie like me, I can't stress it enough!

This is JMHO, but those debt consolidation companies are generally a racket. You are better off trying to make payment arrangements with the judgement creditor. And you are right generally money orders are a better idea so they don't get your banking info. Might as well not make things too easy for them.

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I've been reading a lot about how debt consolidation programs are a scam or generally a waste because it is something you can do for yourself. So I plan on taking action for myself, I was just wondering what protection if any I was afforded against garnishment or seizures once I make a payment plan. How does the court know you are in a payment plan when it has been so long since the default judgement. Should I contact the court once a plan is reached? Or do you just have to hope that the CA honors the plan? Either way, I will definitely being using money orders. I agree...you can't be too safe.

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