If you have received a letter from us, it means that you have been sued in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Lincoln County, Warren County, or Pike County, for a debt that you allegedly owe. If you visit the Missouri Court website (by clicking the bold type) and enter your name or case number (see our letter), you may see who has sued you. It is possible that the creditor has sued the wrong person, is suing on a debt that is past the statute of limitations, or they cannot even prove they own the debt. Before you decide to pay one of these bills, consult with Andrew, for free, to ensure the debt is valid. Andrew is an experienced bankruptcy attorney, located near to where you live or work. He will help you to firstly decide whether bankruptcy is right for you, and if so, quickly and efficiently handle your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Call today for a free, honest consultation that can get your finances back on track: (314) 802-8328.
No matter your situation, please do not ignore this issue. If you do not appear in court at the appointed date and time, a default judgment will be entered against you and the creditor will be free to collect the debt. In accordance with the law, this could mean garnishing your wages, or levying (freezing) your bank account. Read more about garnishments here. You do not want this to happen. You must take this matter seriously and make arrangements. In fact, there may even be an advantage here for you. If a creditor has incorrectly sued you or cannot prove they actually own the debt, you may have an FDCPA claim that entitles you to damages and to have your attorney fees paid by the creditor. Do not be bullied in to paying money. Get free financial advice from me today at: (314) 802-8328.
Garnishments, Levies, and Liens
If you do not, or cannot, pay your bills for an extended period of time, creditors may attempt more serious legal methods to extract the debt owed. They may decide to file a lawsuit against you, or they may sell your debt to a collection agency who will aggressively pursue the debt, also up to the point of filing a lawsuit against you. Once a lawsuit is filed, you must make arrangements to attend the hearing. If you are currently in this situation, give us a call so that we can help you (314) 802-8328. If you do not attend, or have not made other arrangements to defend yourself, the creditor can win the suit (by default or otherwise) and now “execute” on the judgment and take other actions against you. Judgments are good for 10 years in Missouri, and can be renewed every 10 years by the creditor. The creditor can now attempt to forcibly collect on the debt, typically in one of these three ways:
1. Wage Garnishment—The most common way a creditor will attempt to collect debt owed after a judgment. The creditor files with the court, listing your employment and judgment information, and the sheriff serves it on your employer. The order will require your employer to withhold up to 25% of your gross pay each payday. If you are head of household (live with a minor child), talk to your HR Dept. as you can fill out a form with your employer to reduce the garnishment amount to 10% of your gross pay every payday.
2. Bank Levy (Freezing Your Bank Account)—If the creditor knows where you are banking (and they will if you have ever mailed them a check for payment from your current bank) they can send the sheriff out with a request for the bank to send the creditor any funds in ANY account you have at that account. You will not have access to the money in your accounts. Generally, the bank is required to send the funds that accrue from your account in the next 30 days to the creditor's attorney (after the end of 30 days, up to the amount owed). Any direct deposits to these accounts will not be accessible – you should look in to opening a new account, or canceling your direct deposit for the time being.
3. Lien on real property—A creditor holding a judgment against you can register the judgment as a lien against any property you have in the County the judgment was filed in. In fact, they can file a lien against property anywhere, including in other states, but the Creditor would have to register a “foreign judgment” in that state first. The Lien will remain against the property until you transfer the property. At that time, you will have to “settle up” and get the creditor paid in order to transfer property free and clear of the lien.
*A lien is the legal right of a creditor to sell the collateral property of a debtor who fails to meet the obligations of a loan contract. A lien exists, for example, when you take out an automobile loan.