by Matt Cook /
February 12, 2021 /
Credit Reporting Errors

Money and property debtors can protect from a debt collector?

There are only two ways a creditor (ie someone you owe money to) can legally collect against you.  This only applies to consumer debt, not debt that is owed to the government.  The creditor can put something on your credit report (which will make it hard to obtain financing) or they can sue you.  If a company sues you they have to win in Court and obtain a judgment.  A judgment is won either because a consumer does not show up to Court, the consumer consents to a judgment and paying the creditor or the judge or jury at trial finds that you owe the company money.  The company becomes a judgment creditor and the consumer becomes the judgment debtor.
A judgment is a legal Order from a Court stating that you owe someone money.  If a company has a judgment against you it is generally only good for 7 years, however, the company can renew the judgment before it expires if it is not paid.  Technically the judgment creditor can extend the judgment for another 20 years, allowing them 27 years to collect.  There are only certain ways a judgment creditor collects and that usually involves finding out where you bank and garnish or levy the bank account.  This means they send over a form to where you bank and command that bank to send them all the money in that bank account or they garnish your wages.  This means the judgment creditor takes a certain portion of your wages from your employer, assuming you are a w-2 employee.  If you are an independent contractor and receive a 1099 then the garnishment is far more challenging.  The judgment debtor could also place a lien on your property (ie car, house) but it is incredibly rare for them to attempt to seek to take these possessions from you.  Mainly because certain assets are exempt, it can be difficult to locate all your assets to seize them and if they sell them at auction they will most likely not recoup much of what is owed. If you can not afford to pay a debt thankfully we do not have judgment debtor prisons.  You can not go to jail for owing somebody money or your inability to pay.  However, the Court may Order you to undergo a debtor’s examination, where the creditor asks you to disclose certain assets to the judgment creditor.  If you fail to comply with the Court Order to comply then the Judge has the discretion to jail you so it is always mindful to pay attention to Court dates, papers and Orders. The credit reporting is not as stressful as dealing with a judgment.  Negative items, such as collections, only stay on your credit report for 7 years from the past due date.  Additionally, as the accounts age they have less of an impact on your credit.  Further, you can dispute items on your credit if you feel they are inaccurate.