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Summons for credit card debt - help!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have never been in trouble with the law aside from a few traffic tickets over the years.  Yesterday I received a summons for credit card debt and I have no idea what to do next.  The background is:  a few years ago I opened a credit card with a 0% interest rate to pay off another credit card.  Unfortunately, we were not able to pay it off  before the interest kicked in.  After a while I couldn't pay the $400/month bill.  I sent them about $200/month for a while but eventually they started coming after me.  Last June, I got a call from a law firm that they were looking for me to pay the debt.  I have not paid anything since then.  They would not accept small payments and I cannot afford to send them larger ones.  The debt is in my name.  I babysit every now and then and that is my only income (which pays for groceries and other basic necessities).  I still have small children and do not have the earning potential to make any money once I pay daycare.  It is a large amount of money - $18,000.  I do want to pay it I just don't know how.  DH does not make much money and his income just barely covers everything else.  I know how we got here - mostly charging groceries and such when I did not babysit.  We do not have a huge home, new cars or a flat screen tv.  Most of what is new has been gifts from my parents.  We are just barely making it right now because of paying on the other 3 credit cards that we racked up over the years.   So after my long winded background - what do I do next?  I have read a few things online and I'm scared.  DH thinks we either call the law office we got the summons from and offer a lump sum payment using the kid's college money - I do not know how much that is, not much I think or I file for bankruptcy.  I did go to creditboards.com and was almost as confused as when I first read the summons.  Any thoughts or help would be great.  Thank you.   

post #2 of 12

Dont call the 'law office', call the court where the summons is.  Get the information from the court to see when your hearing date it.  Google the law office to make sure they are legit.  Dont use the kids college funds to pay debt.  At this point *I* would wait for court and show the judge you have no income (IRS records, bank stmts etc) and that you cant pay the bill.

Depending how old the original bill is you could be at the end of the statue of limitations on collections.

However I bet when you get to court the atty is going to be willing to deal and take pennies on the dollar to settle.

post #3 of 12

I agree, the law office probably bought the debt. Talk to the court. I know some courts have legal help desks that can give you some basic information on how far back they can collect on credit card debt and what your basic options are. The court may also be able to refer you to some solid legal help to figure out what to do next. You can also ask the judge to help you when you get to court. Given that it is just in your name, don't rush into anything.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks ladies.  I'm confused, though.  There is no court date listed on the summons.  When do I speak with a judge?

post #5 of 12

If you can't go to the courthouse (your local courthouse) in person and talk to someone, show them the letter of summons, and find out it's legitimacy and court date - at least call the courthouse to see if someone can help you over the phone.  If there is or will be a court date, I would also go to court and bring copies of bank statements, pay stubs, that credit card statement, and anything also that would help to demonstrate that you simply cannot pay the monthly amount and that you did attempt to keep up with it for as long as you could.

 

Like another PP said, once they see that you simply do not have it, they will be likely to either work out a payment plan that you can afford OR settle for way less.

 

post #6 of 12
Okay look closely at it...what is the date? I bet it has not yet been filed...It is likely postdated. It is to scare you into paying it before that happens. If you don't pay then they will take it in front of a judge who with file the legal paperwork (a judgment) so the law firm can garnish you and put a lien on your home. Even if you are there, this is very likely to happen because you clearly own the bad debt and cannot pay it. The court will send you a paper where you must list your work, your assets, etc. You must be truthful in this document otherwise it is contempt.

Since you personally have no income they will likely come after your assets. Before this happens, take your name off all bank accounts...they will be legally able to drain your bank accounts, your savings, your children's college funds, etc. if your name is on any of them and the court gives them permission to do so. With a balance so high, you could be in big trouble. it If your name is on the house deed, quit-claim it so they can't lean it. If your cars are paid off and any are in your name...transfer it to your husband. Once they figure out they can't take their money from you, they will much more inclined to strike up a deal with you on payments.

I have BTDT on a debt my ex was to pay in our divorce agreement (which doesn't mean anything outside family court but that is another issue all together) but defaulted on. It was a mess and I couldn't believe the kind of power the court gives to the collector to get their money! Good luck mama!
post #7 of 12

Do NOT do anything until this law firm proves they have a right to the debt they are trying to collect.  Please don't just accept that they are the ones who have a right to the money. 

 

Yes, you do owe money.  But you owe the original business the you "defaulted" on, not someone else.  Unless they prove that the debt has been assigned to them.  The last thing you want to do is settle with these people and then have someone else come after you. 

 

I agree with the other posters, don't do anything until you get a court date.  Then, in court, make them come up with the paperwork proving they "own" the debt. 

 

 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katwoman View Post

Do NOT do anything until this law firm proves they have a right to the debt they are trying to collect.  Please don't just accept that they are the ones who have a right to the money. 

 

Yes, you do owe money.  But you owe the original business the you "defaulted" on, not someone else.  Unless they prove that the debt has been assigned to them.  The last thing you want to do is settle with these people and then have someone else come after you. 

 

I agree with the other posters, don't do anything until you get a court date.  Then, in court, make them come up with the paperwork proving they "own" the debt. 

 

 


It is possible she waved this right if she didn't do the request for proof within 30 days of the first written correspondence with the law firm...that is what happened to me in court when I requested the original paperwork from the creditor, I had unknowingly waved my right.

Lesson: If you are within your first 30 days, you need to request this, with delivery confirmation, right away!
post #9 of 12
Is it really a summons, or is it a letter from a Law Office trying to appear to be a summons?
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

It's really a summons.  DH and I went through it yesterday and wrote up my answer.  I am going to get it out in the mail monday.  Thanks for all the replies everyone!  I'll try to remember to update when the next step happens.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by BathrobeGoddess View Post


It is possible she waved this right if she didn't do the request for proof within 30 days of the first written correspondence with the law firm...that is what happened to me in court when I requested the original paperwork from the creditor, I had unknowingly waved my right.

Lesson: If you are within your first 30 days, you need to request this, with delivery confirmation, right away!


 

I am not arguing with you.  Just stunned that your legal right to have it documented that you owe money to someone has a time limit on it.  Just stunned.  So anyone can claim you owe them money and, unless you ask for proof in the first 30 days, the court automatically declares you owe them money?

 

That's very disturbing to me.

 

Sorry to hijack your thread OP......

 

 

post #12 of 12
I'm not sure if it is done on a State by state basis but in Colorado: Proof=dispute in my mind. The burden of proof is on the collection agency UNLESS you don't request it in the 30 days.
Quote:
You may dispute the debt (or any part of it) within 30 days after receiving the first notice. Your dispute must be in writing. The collection agency must then stop collection efforts until it mails you proof of the debt (a bill or court judgment) and the name of the original creditor if requested (if different from the creditor listed on the collection notice).

From here: http://www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/departments/consumer_protection/uccc_cab/cab/consumer_rights_information_english

In CO lawyers who do this sort of court thing are also licensed collection agents...it really is awful, I agree.

I did mange to fight one and win last year though (another XH debt) because of what I have learned.
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