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Judgment Against Me / Can They Take My Car / I'm Filing BK Soon


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I am in Missouri. Unmarried. No minor children living with me.

 

I was fired Thanksgiving 2012. Drawing unemployment. Looking for job. No luck in this lousy job market.

 

Now one of my old credit card debts that I was sued over (and lost) is biting me in the rear end.

 

Several collection companies sued me within a few months of each other back in 2008. All of them were for credit card debt that was old enough to be time-barred debts. My big mistake was not knowing this at the time. I went to two of the court dates on my own, no lawyer (couldn't afford), and was told that I lost the cases and owed the debts. So I didn't bother with going to the other dates because I figured I would lose. Yes, I know I was very dumb.

 

I have no idea who the original credit card was. When they sued me, it was [one name]. Then it was reassigned to [another name]. But I can't find documentation at home, and the court information online does not get that detailed.

 

I also can't find actual dates I quit making payments, inactivity, etc. My credit report from December 2011 shows all of the opening dates for these credit cards incorrectly. Instead of the dates they were actually opened, they are showing up with the dates these collection agencies reactivated them and started pursuing me again.

 

Information about the account that is now biting me in the rear:

 

5/1/2008 judgment = $2,323.53 + 9% int + cc

 

7/24/2012 assignment of judgment to another company for $5,204.35 + any future interest which may accrue

 

5/14/2013 I received a letter from the new company's attorney's office (but signed by an illegible scribble with "Not an Attorney" typed under it) telling me I had 15 days from the date of the letter to fill out the enclosed questionnaire. If I fill it out and return it to their office, I "may avoid a court appearance. If you fail to fill it out completely adn return it to my office within 15 days from the date of this letter, you may be ordered to appear in court and answer the same questions under oath."

 

It is now 6/7/2013. I had set the envelope aside without intending to respond to these people, and just realized my 15 days have passed.

 

The "enclosed questionnaire" referenced in the letter asks all kinds of stuff. I will add all of that info to the end of this message. I've been told it is called a "debt exam."

 

MY QUESTIONS:

 

1. I am not legally obligated to answer these (debt exam/questionnaire) people until/unless they take me to court, correct? I wasn't going to respond anyway.

 

2. If they do take me back to court, and if I can figure out who the original credit card company was, is it too late for me to tell the judge this debt is too old and I shouldn't have to pay?

 

3. I was planning on filing for bankruptcy back before I lost my job. Am I better off filing and getting rid of all of this rather than messing with fighting the judgments that have already been made against me? Along with the credit cards that sued me and won, I've got some other credit cards, medical bills, cable, satellite, cell phone. I was going to estimate my debt total at around $30,000. However, it has been about 7 years since I gathered everything and took a look to see where I stand. Just this one debt is up to $5,204.35 according to the letter, but the court website says it was $2,323 in 2008. So did everything else increase in a huge way since that time? If so, my debt is now way more than $30,000.

 

3. Even if they took me to court right now, I still can't pay this. My original plan (back when I was getting sued) was to go ahead and let them sue me, not make payments on the judgements, and then I'd file bankruptcy and get rid of it all at once. But I was in a really low-paying job back then, defaulted on my student loans, had a death in the family, got fired, was on unemployment for nearly 2 years, found another job, went on medical leave and started another financial decline, got fired, etc.

 

4. I am currently surviving on a tiny unemployment check each week and what's left of $6,000 I got from my insurance company when an uninsured driver totalled my vehicle almost a year ago. If I file bankruptcy, would the fact that I recently got cash in an insurance settlement mess up the bankruptcy at all? I only have about $700 left anyway and it will be gone once I pay bills.

 

5. Is there any chance I will lose my car in bankruptcy or lose it to this credit card company that sent the letter (since they have a judgment against me)? It is 8 years old. I bought almost a year ago (after uninsured driver totalled my vehicle). Paid $10,500 and its blue book is around $9,400. I paid my mother 1/3 of the price of the car in cash with money from insurance. She put that in her account and wrote a check for the full asking price to buy the car. The title is in my name POD to her. I am making monthly payments to her. I did find out online that MO lets you have $3,000 equity in the car, plus a $600 wildcard. So that's $3,600 toward a blue book of approximately $9,400. Is it worth the administrative fees, possibility of auction not bringing in the amount they want, etc., for them to bother with taking my car?

 

6. Should I cancel my bank account? The reason I am thinking of closing it is because it would stop the occasional $40 my bank charges me each time these credit card companies decide to run a garnishment through and try to wipe me out. There is never enough money in my account for them to take. Learned my lesson after they did this a few years ago and got $2,000. (The way it works where I live, the garnishment goes through, they wipe you out, and then a few days later you get a letter saying it's going to happen (but it already did). Right now, losing an occasional $40 without warning is a big deal.

 

I keep my bank balance VERY low now, and then stick the cash in the day before an automated payment is supposed to go through for my current living expenses. But each time they run it through, my bank charges me $40. They usually try around the time people are getting income tax refunds, but I no longer get refunds. Since I have defaulted on my student loan, they have taken my refund immediately for several years. So my thinking is if I cancel my bank account and open an account at this other local bank, I'll get the free credit reports that come with their accounts. That will help me get a better idea of where I stand as far as filing bankruptcy.

 

7. Should I be concerned about this letter at all, or is it just another way to try to get money out of me that I don't have? Should it light a fire under me to file for bankruptcy before they try to get me back into court? If they take me back to court to answer this questionnaire, I can't tell them I have a job for them to garnish, or property for them to seize (except possibly the car, which is freaking me out).

 

I am going to get an updated credit report online today.

 

THANKS!

 

*** Here is the information they ask for on their form ***

Name

Address

Rent or own?

Amount of rent or mortgage?

Landlord or mortgage company name and contact info

My phone number

Date of birth

Driver's license number

SSN

My employer

Salary

Full-time or part-time

Pay period (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)

Next pay date

Average take-home pay

Are you currently being garnished? How much?

Is child support deducted from your check? How much?

Tips or commissions

Other sources of income and amount

If currently unemployed, give current source of income and amount of income. If you have no income, please explain how you are paying your bills.

Marital status

Number of minor children living with you.

Do you pay child support? How much?

Do you have any checking, savings, or other bank accounts? List info.

Do you own any vehicles? Describe.

Are you willing to make voluntary payments?

Proposed amount of payments? How often? Date proposed payments will begin:

 

 

 

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What is your goal here? If you have several judgements against you, and some are already doing garnishment, what is to be accomplished by not filing for BK? The judgements do not have a traditional sol, they can wait years and years, then collect. You are not rebuilding any credit with the other outstanding debt against you.

I think you may be judgement proof for this one, but that doesn't mean they can't come back in 2 years to see if your situation has changed. They may or may not go for the car.

If I were in your situation, I would seriously consider ch 7 bk, then work on rebuilding myself financially. It won't get rid of your student loans, but it would everything else. You would be allowed to keep the car.

The settlement money may come into play if it puts you over the ways and means. Go to the federal gov bk site, find the numbers for your state, and take the test to find out. If it puts you over, you can wait a few months and take it again, they go be income for the last 6 months.

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You do have to answer the questions in post judgement exam. This is the one part of debt that can send you to jail for contempt of court. Get that answered and back to them right away. 

 

But I don't have to answer it right now, do I?

 

The judgment was in 2008. I haven't heard a peep from these people since then, and now they send a letter with the questionnaire.

 

How can I go to jail for not answering a letter? There is no judge sitting here telling me I have to respond to their letter.

 

I'm kicking myself for falling for this when they bought the old debts that had been charged off and screwed me over.

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76.075. Exemptions

(a) Within three days after an officer has levied an execution, the officer shall notify the person against whom the execution has issued that an execution has been levied, that certain property, if any, is exempt under sections 513.430 and 513.440, RSMo, and that the person has the right to hold the property as exempt from attachment and execution. The officer shall also generally state the there are certain exemptions under state and federal law that the judgment debtor may be able to claim with respect to the property levied upon and describe the procedure for claiming the property as exempt. The notice shall also inform the person against whom the execution issues of the manner in which the person may obtain a specific description of the property upon which the levy was made. The notice may be served in the same manner as a summons or by mailing the notice to the judgment debtor at the debtor's last known address by regular mail. Service by mail shall be complete upon mailing.

( B) The judgment debtor may claim any exemption by filing a verified request with the levying officer within twenty days after notice of the levy. Any exemption allowed by federal law may be claimed at any time prior to the sale of property or disbursement of funds. Upon receipt of a verified request, the levying officer shall notify the party requesting the execution forthwith that a claim of exemption has been filed. If the levy is in the form of a garnishment upon the judgment debtor's wages, no such notification is required. The party requesting the execution may object to any claim for exemption within ten days of the filing of the verified request by filing a request for court review.

© If a request for court review is not timely filed, the levying officer shall release from execution the items claimed as exempt by the judgment debtor. Regardless of whether a request for court review is timely filed and where the property involves a garnishment upon the judgment debtor's wages, the levying officer shall release from execution the items claimed as exempt by the judgment debtor to the extent required by law at the time the claim for exemption is filed. If a request for court review is timely filed and the property does not involve a garnishment upon the judgment debtor's wages, the exemption claim shall first be reviewed and determined by the court before the levying officer shall release the items claimed as exempt. Any hearing required by the court shall be expedited, shall be held not later than thirty days after the filing of the request for court review, and shall be held upon not less than three days' notice of the hearing to all parties in interest.

(Adopted Feb. 11, 1987, eff. Jan. 1, 1988. Amended June 1

76.28. Discovery in Aid of Execution

In aid of the judgment or execution, the judgment creditor, or a successor in interest when that interest appears of record, may obtain discovery as provided by Rules 57.01, 57.03, 57.04, 57.05, 57.06, 57.07, 57.09, 57.10, and 58.01 and may enforce discovery as authorized by Rule 61.01 or by an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to comply with the discovery request. However, the scope of post-judgment discovery shall be limited to matters, not privileged, that are relevant to the discovery of assets, including insurance, or income subject to execution or garnishment for the satisfaction of judgments.

(Adopted June 1, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994. Amended May 26, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.)

76.09. Election of Property to be Levied Upon

The person whose property is levied upon may elect the property, real or personal, to be levied upon. The election shall be made by delivering to the sheriff a list of property selected which is sufficient to satisfy the execution. The sheriff shall levy only upon the property selected unless the sheriff believes the property selected is not sufficient to satisfy the execution.

(Adopted June 10, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.)

(Amended Sept. 28, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994.)

76.13. Notice of Sale of Personal Property

Before selling personal property under an execution, the sheriff, at least ten days before the sale, shall post three notices in public places in the township in which the sale is to be held. The notices shall describe the property to be sold, shall state the time and place of sale, and shall state the methods of payment approved by the judgment creditor.

If the court finds that the personal property is likely to perish or is likely to depreciate in value to a considerable extent, the period of notice may be shortened or eliminated.

(Adopted June 10, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.)

(Amended June 1, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994.)

76.25. Stay or Quashing of Execution--Bond

The person whose property has been levied upon may apply to the judge of the division of the court out of which the same was issued for a stay of execution or to quash the execution. Reasonable notice of the time of the hearing on the application shall be given to opposing parties. The application shall be by petition setting forth good cause why the execution should be stayed or quashed. The court may require the petitioner to provide a sufficient bond with adequate security approved by the court, conditioned upon the delivery of the property.

(Adopted June 10, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.)

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76.27. Examination of Judgment Debtor

When an execution is returned unsatisfied the judgment creditor may petition the court which rendered the judgment to enter an order requiring the judgment debtor to appear and be examined under oath concerning his means of satisfying the judgment.

(Adopted June 5, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.)

76.28. Discovery in Aid of Execution

In aid of the judgment or execution, the judgment creditor, or a successor in interest when that interest appears of record, may obtain discovery as provided by Rules 57.01, 57.03, 57.04, 57.05, 57.06, 57.07, 57.09, 57.10, and 58.01 and may enforce discovery as authorized by Rule 61.01 or by an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to comply with the discovery request. However, the scope of post-judgment discovery shall be limited to matters, not privileged, that are relevant to the discovery of assets, including insurance, or income subject to execution or garnishment for the satisfaction of judgments.

(Adopted June 1, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994. Amended May 26, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.)

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