Unemployed and a Judgement Against Me
(Tonawanda, NY, USA)
I have a judgement against me for approx $10,000. This debt was from 15 years ago and it was money owed for attorney fees. In the past 2 months, I have received numerous phone calls and letters saying they will garnish my wages.
I contacted them to inform them that I am currently unemployed and have been for 10 months. Now they are sending me letters saying they will seize my car. Can they do this?? My car is valued at $10,000 and I still owe $8,500! I only have approx $1,500 equity in my vehicle.
I live in NY state (if this matters). If they take my vehicle there is no chance of getting a job! Please help! I don't know what to do and they are threatening to send a Sheriff to my house to take my car. Also, I do not own my own home. I have nothing of value (computer, electronics, art, jewelry, etc) and I have no bank account. Can they garnish my unemployment?
Reply from DebtCollectionAnswers.com:
Anytime someone writes us and tells us they have a judgment against them that a collector is trying to collect, we urge them to talk with a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. The first consultation will be free, and the attorney can tell you what you have that is "exempt" or safe from the judgement creditor, and what may be at risk. Exemptions vary by state, and even if we published a list on this site, we would still recommend you talk with a bankruptcy attorney to find out what applies to your specific situation.
It is important that you do this, however, because judgment creditors often have additional means to collect from debtors.
As far as the collector's threats, keep in mind that even law firms are required to follow the FDCPA if they are considered collection agencies. If they are saying or threatening things they can't do, then they are breaking the law. The NY State AG's office has been active in going after law firms that use deceptive tactics when collecting debts. We aren't attorneys so we can't tell you whether they are breaking the law, but we do think you should look into this further.
Karen, there are three things you can do right now that won't cost you a penny:
1. Read the first chapter of Debt Collection Answers online for free so you have an overview of your rights.
2. Get a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney to find out what this collector can and cannot do to collect from you.
3. If you suspect this firm is breaking the law in trying to collect from you, talk with a local consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection cases. Find out how to get FREE or low cost legal advice about debt collection from a consumer law attorney here.