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Having Wage Garnish for a very old debt

Guest VikkMathis

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Guest VikkMathis

Back in 2007-2008 while dealing with hour cuts and layoffs I came to a conclusion that I was unable to pay my credit card debt on time. Rather than not pay off my debt I decided to sign up with a debt consolidation company and added all my debt to the program in order to get it paid off since I wasn't getting anywhere with the banks themselves. I put all 13 (Yes that's correct all 13 credit cards and store cards with this program) and was told that $337.00 would be taken from my checking account on the 20th of every month until all debt was paid in full. By mid 2008 I received notice that all credit cards had been paid in full and I was so happy with the program that I added another credit card (Chase Bank) to the program in which $80.00 dollars was taken from my account. On my credit report it clearly shows most of the credit cards were paid in full so I assumed this company had done their job.

On October 26, 2016 I arrived home from work and found a letter in my mail box from my employer stating that a summons had been placed on me for wage garnishment, which was to begin on the week ending October 30th for a grand total of $1666.78.

On October 27, 2016 I contacted my employee and was advised to contact the company that was doing this, which was a company I'd never heard of or ever been notified by called Calvary. I contacted this company and heard this message stating that I had reach the law off of (Name given) and to hold for the next rep. I assumed I was talking to an attorney because this guy knew everything about me. My address, place of employment, date of birth, and SS number. I asked what was going on and why were they garnishing my wages considering I don't have any debt and had never heard of them before. He simply said that this was an attempt to collect a debt and that they were representing HSBC for a Orchard credit card in, which I failed to pay off. I asked why is it so much money considering (A) I though it was paid when I put it with the consolidation program, (B) that the card only had a credit limit of $750.00 or $800.00 dollars at the time and I'd only charged about $550.00 on it when I put it with the consolidation. He told me this story of about interest being added along with court fees and then preceded to tell me that they declined my consolidation offer.  I asked if the declined the offer why wasn't I notified? Why wait nearly nine years and then take me to court and began garnishing my wages.

I asked if I could work something out with them and that if they got rid of the garnishment claim, that I'd be willing to pay what I originally owed on the card and would give them $75.00 to 100.00 dollars on the 19th of each month until the debt was paid in full. He told me that he would let the client know about my offer and would call me back within an hour with an answer, but sadly he never did.

The same day after waiting about 4 hours I called back and spoke to another guy (Michael) and asked if he could give me an update or something on what the client had said about my offer, but not before he started asking me all these questions about myself. He wanted my name, date of birth, and last four digits of my SS number and then said, "Do you still live at (My address) in which I replied yes.  He then said let me see what was left on your file and began telling me a story that me and the first guy never discussed. He was like, "I see here you're agreeing to the garnishment placed on you and that you're offering to pay us $100.00 dollars a month to pay it off quicker...Is that correct?" I was like, "NO that's not what we talked about or discuss...I asked if the garnishment could be removed, and that I was willing to pay what I originally owed on the account instead of $1666.78 considering the card didn't even have a credit limit that high. I then asked isn't this a law firm or something?" to which he replied yes, and began telling me that the garnishment cannot be removed, that I settled my account all I had to do was give them $1500.00 dollars to make the garnishment stop and go away.

When told I didn't have that kind of money and began explaining why and how I thought this card had been paid, because I added it to a consolidation program and nobody contacted me or let me know that the offer presented on this card wasn't accepted, that I assumed it was being paid off.  To which he replied, "Well it's not our fault you couldn't pay your bills and you depended on someone else to take care of it for you." When I began to explained how consolidation worked he cut me off and was like, "I know what consolidation is."

I began explaining my finances to him and told him that if they started garnishing my wages by 25% the only thing they're doing was putting me in debt with other creditors. I also asked how am I suppose to pay my rent, go to my doctor appointments, get my medication, pay my bills and such with you taking nearly a third of my wages. At this point he asked what was my take home pay in which I replied $780.00 to $820.00 every two weeks depending on how many hours I work. He (Michael) then said based on your wages I don't think your company is going to send us anything anyway because you don't make enough money to have 25% taken from you wages. He told me to contact my employer payroll department and asked how much I would have to make before garnishment is applied and if they say they won't be able to do this to call him back and he'd work something out with me.

I contacted my employer who told me that my take home pay after taxes would have to be at least $860.00 and with the holidays coming up I was sure to make this kind of money and 25% would be taken until at least mid January of 2017 when hours go back to normal.

I called Calavry back and spoke to Michael a second time and asked if there was anyway they could stop the garnishment from happening and that I would make a out-of-pocket payment monthly, but all of a sudden he started saying things like, Why should I believe you, You had plenty of time to do this, and that if I wanted to send them money all I have to do is start by writing them a check and sending to their offices. I told him that I didn't feel comfortable sending in a check with my checking account number attached and if there were some kind of website to make monthly payments on, to which he replied NO. I asked if I send a money order would they at least send me confirmation of payment received to again he replied NO. He was like we don't work like this and if you want to make a payment then we would need a personal check. I again told him that a personal check was out of the question and ended the phone call.

I later did some researching and went to the courthouse where they filed my case for garnishment and was told to file for and exception, take it to the sheriff office, and hope that the judge set up an arrangement to hear your case, but that was nearly 2 months ago and I have yet to hear anything while I'm falling behind with other creditors because I'm now in a situation where I'm having a hard time paying my bills.


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OK, wow....there's a lot going on there....


First thing's first, who are you dealing with?  When you said "Calvary", is that the same "law office" you were previously speaking to?  If so, there may be a problem.  Calvary is not a law office, it's a bottom feeding debt collector.  A debt collector is violating the law if they claim to be a law office, unless they really are one.  The first thing I would do is chase this back as far as I could possibly go.  Chances are good that you were treated to sewer service, improperly sued, possibly on a time-barred debt anyways too.  So, I would see if there's anything you have records of--old credit reports, anything--showing that this debt was included in the consolidation.  There's also a possibility that it was not rejected out of consolidation and they are illegally acting on this whole deal.  But you need to make sure as much as you possibly can.  The problem is that records may be hard to come by since so much time has passed.  


Also, I would go to the court clerk's office in the county where they filed suit and get a copy of everything that was recorded on the case.  They have to serve you, and they have to record a proof of service with the clerk.  I'd be willing to bet that if you never heard of this before the garnishment, that they "personally served" you at an address that you never heard of before, or one that you lived at like 5 years before that service supposedly took place.  You will want to see what exactly they told to the court about how you were "served" and when.  From what I'm seeing, looks like the statute of limitations for a written contract debt in CA is 4 years.  If so, that means that they would have had to sue you within 4 years from the last payment that you made on the account, or else the debt is time-barred and they cannot legally sue you any longer to collect it.  This is why they do things like sewer service, and lie to the court about having served you when they never actually did.  If you do not know about the suit, you cannot invoke SOL as an affirmative defense.  Most people, once there's a garnishment, will now know enough to challenge anything, they will just think that because a lawsuit took place there's nothing they can do.  


So, first step--get to the court clerk's office ASAP and get copies of the documents in the suit.  Or, you might be able to search online, since CA seems to be good about letting you search these things online.  You can pull up your county court records, if they are online, and search by your name.  Let us know the date that they filed the lawsuit.  Also, let us know how, when, and where they claim you were served.  You might not need to dig any further than that, it might be far enough to put a stop to this whole deal.  Next, check through any records you have to see if you can prove that that one debt was in fact included and paid off.  Since it's less likely that these records are still available, I would do this second.  Do you recall the name of the company that you did the consolidation through?  That could help as well.  Let us know what you find.  If you can show that they acted illegally, you can file a motion to the court to vacate the judgment against you.  

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