What Happens If I Get Sued?

Many of my clients come to me after they’ve been sued by a debt collector for a past-due credit card bill. Other times, the threat of “being taken to court” spurs the call. The client is often worried about being sent to jail. After all, the sheriff hand-delivered the summons and complaint. Next time he shows up, it will be to handcuff me and take me to the Big House!

The first thing I do in such cases is to reassure the client that you can’t be locked up for failing to pay a debt. Debtors’ prisons have been gone for over 150 years. You may have a judgment entered against you, you may have your wages garnisheed, but you won’t be thrown in the slammer.

So what happens if you get sued for a money judgment or in small claims? The process will be different in other states, but here is how it works in Wisconsin:

– The creditor will have you served with a summons and complaint. You will probably be personally served by a sheriff’s deputy. You will have about three weeks to answer the complaint.

– If you have a defense to the lawsuit (“I don’t owe the money because…”), you will file your answer and the judge will schedule a hearing. You aren’t required to answer. In fact, I usually recommend that clients ignore the summons and complaint. In most cases, the clients admit they owe the money; they just can’t pay it. If you ignore it and don’t file an answer, the creditor will file a motion and obtain a default judgment. You won’t have to appear in court at all.

– Once the creditor gets its judgment, it will try to collect on the judgment. This will usually involve garnishment of wages, bank accounts, or other non-exempt personal property. If the creditor sends you an Order for Financial Disclosure, you MUST complete it and return it. You won’t have to send any money, but failing to comply with this court order may land you in jail for contempt of court.

It’s possible that you don’t have any non-exempt wages or property for creditors to take. A bankruptcy attorney can explain exemptions and the concept of being uncollectible.

If you’ve been sued and a creditor is threatening to garnish your wages, speak to an attorney soon. A bankruptcy filing can prevent the judgment and the resulting wage garnishment. If the judgment has already been entered, the bankruptcy filing can wipe it out and immediately stop any garnishments. A small claims or money judgment is no different from any other general unsecured debt and it is typically dischargeable.

No matter what the debt collector tells you on the phone, you cannot be jailed for defaulting on a debt. The person telling you differently is either a scammer trying to rip you off or an unethical debt collector lying to scare some money out of you.

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  1. I was sued for $4000 by a girl i used to date. i wasnt able to make the court appearence and wrote the judge, asked for a different court date and found out AFTER the hearing I was guilty. She claims she paid $2500 towards my schooling, and I have proof that the Wisconsin GI bill is paying for my schooling. I asked for the case to be re opened and they denied me. I sent the garsihment papers to the hag..but 15 days late. Now I have a contempt hearing. what are my options. I cant afford a lawyer being a Fulltime Student.

    • Thanks for reading. I can’t give legal advice over the Internet, but I can give you some general information.

      It sounds like your ex-girlfriend obtained a default judgment (see above) because you failed to answer the small claims suit. This judgment may be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Alternatively, you may be uncollectible if you are unemployed and have no non-exempt assets. An attorney can give you advice once he or she hears all the specifics of your situation.

      If a contempt hearing has been scheduled, your options are (1) attend or (2) don’t attend. See the info in bold above regarding Orders for Financial Disclosure. If you don’t attend, the judge will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. If you attend, you will need to explain to the judge why you disregarded a Court order.

      • I was brought to court and had a judgement for a credit card bill about 5 years ago. I could not prove it was not mine so the judge made a motion for final judgement. I have not paid and now 6 years later I am being sued for wage garnishment. Do I have to worry about jail or losing my job for violating a court order? It’s a losing battle to fight it. Any advice?

        • I don’t give legal advice online, but as a general matter, you won’t go to jail for failing to pay a judgment. The creditor will likely get paid via the garnishment.

          I haven’t heard of employers firing people because of wage garnishments, but whether that’s allowed will depend on state law and your employment contract.

          You should contact a local attorney to find out if you have any defenses to this garnishment or if there are other ways to deal with the debt.

      • Hello, I Live in CA. So being sued and taken to small claims court for a 3,000 loan, im currently a full time student and unemployed. Im scared of them taking away my car since its the only thing under my name. What should I do?

        • Speak to a local attorney who can tell you what exemptions are available in California. Depending on what’s available, the car may be exempt from execution. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

      • I was living in Florida in 2013 when I got sued for $2000, I started paying on the judgement and then I moved to Georgia in 2014 and then stopped working in 2015. I fell behind on my payments and they sent me another notice that looked like a second judgement? I called and negoiated a lesser payment since I wasnt working which they accept. My daughter is the one helping me with the payments and thats not easy sometimes. If I stop paying will the sue me again?

        • The best advice I can give is to speak with a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder.

          My crystal ball is in the shop today, but my guess is that this creditor will sue you again if you default on the payment arrangement. When you speak to your attorney, he/she will be able to give you lots of different options to deal with this debt. Good luck!

      • Hi wondering if you can answer my question back in 2009 I was convicted of aggravated vehicular assault ( the girl jumped on my car really) but I was .002 over the legal limit needless to say I served a year in prison after I was released the girl had an attorney and civilly sued me for 1 million dollars in that million was her medical bills ( witch she didn’t pay the state medical card did and I was ordered at the time of my sentencing restitution ( 150,000 for her medical bills) she was still in hosp so they went up from there and I owed victims of crime cpl thousand for her medical bills so I’ve been paying my restitution 20.00 a month toward her medical bills and 25 a month to her attorney ( I’m paying her medical bills two times) but anyways my question really is if I ever own anything as long as I DO NOT default on my payments to her agreed in court can they take anything from me or Lien on anything

        • That depends on state law. Your best bet is to contact a local attorney and schedule a consultation. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

      • I am being sued by someone other then the original debtor. I am wanting to know if I can use that as my defense against this filing? I have already put in a answer to file for homestead on my personal property. And I don’t work.

        • I don’t know. For legal advice specific to your situation, you should contact a local attorney who can get all the information needed and advise appropriately.

    • What happens if I pay off the debt before court

      • Ask your attorney. In general, if you pay the debt before the court hearing, the attorneys will file a stipulation to dismiss the case. If attorneys aren’t involved, the litigants can let the judge know that the debt has been paid, and the judge will likely dismiss the case.

  2. I have a bank credit card debt that I had not been able to pay off for four years. I had multiple credit card debts at the time, and I was able to pay off two of them but this particular one I wasn’t able to. Because it was a large amount of money, it was passed on to a collection agency, and they started harassing me with phone calls and letters saying I had owed them a certain amount of money.

    I’m wondering what my next steps ought to be, because I don’t believe I can afford to lose the money right now. Will bankruptcy help? What does bankruptcy do to my credit? Are there other steps to use besides bankruptcy? Am I just able to lengthen the amount of time I get to pay off the money if I’m able to save up for the next half year or so?

    • Thanks for reading. In my opinion, your next step should be to consult with a local bankruptcy attorney.

      Answering your questions:
      1 – Bankruptcy may help. If the debt is discharged, you’ll be able to devote more of your income to necessary living expenses.
      2 – If you file bankruptcy, your credit score will take a hit. However, being in default for four years is also hurting your score. A colleague once said, “if you think a credit score is valuable, take it to the grocery store and see how much you can buy with it.” In my opinion, unmanageable debt is a bigger problem than a poor credit score. It also causes more real-world problems.
      3 – Depending on where you live and your complete debt situation, bankruptcy alternatives may be in your best interests. Your attorney can explain your options and advise which makes the most sense in your case.
      4 – Payment plans may be possible, either through Chapter 13 bankruptcy or some alternative. Again, your attorney can give advice specific to your situation.

      I hope these general comments help. Keep in mind that I am not licensed to practice in any state other than Wisconsin. None of this should be construed as legal advice. I can give general information, but only a local attorney who has discussed your case in detail with you can give you legal advice. Good luck!

  3. I just found out im getting sued for a private student loan for 40k. I have no way of paying this. im working a minimum wage job and only make about 4-7k a year (well below the poverty line.) Im on foodstamps, and at the end of the month there isnt always even enough money to pay the rent/keep the lights on. What am I supposed to do. It’s a student loan so I can’t file for bankruptcy, and affording a lawyer is flat out. I have no friends/family to fall back on to help pay for this, or to support me if they start taking money out of my paychecks. If they do that, Ill end up homeless.

    • On those facts, it sounds as if you may be uncollectible. If this is true, creditors may sue you, but it’s unlikely they will be able to garnishee your wages while you’re making $7,000/year. Assuming you owe this debt, the judgment creditor will likely not be able to collect from you until your financial situation improves.

      Bankruptcy *may* help. While discharging student loans is never easy, it is possible. If you’re interested in learning about your options, I recommend you speak to a local bankruptcy lawyer.

      Note that nothing on this site is intended as legal advice; it is simply general information. For legal advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak to a local attorney.

  4. Please help..
    7yrs ago i got sued by a friend i went to court and all i remember was that a lady just asked me if i knew the person that was suing me and that when i went in front of the judge that just dont say anything n something else. But all i remember is that the judge just told me to have my Distance from my friend and not to contact her ever again… i went to see my background n i see i have a judgement bcuz of that so what exactly do o need to do and does that really affect me? Also after all these yrs i havent had any letters sent to me of if i need to pay or not. Even on court they didn’t say or gaved me nething should i worry?? Thanks

    • If you don’t know whether or not you owe any money, you need to contact a local attorney to check out the court docket for you. A credit report may also help you to determine what (if anything) you owe.

  5. Please need help, I got sue over $2000 I got loan a year aog and I wans able to pay it all back cuz I got laid off my job. So hes sueing for the entire amount and I have no money nor do I own and property, I’m broke…I can’t pay for it what can I do about it I can’t pay for it can I be aressted?

    • No, you can’t be arrested unless there was some kind of fraud involved. But the creditor may be able to garnishee wages or levy against any non-exempt property you own. This is a state-specific question, so I recommend you speak to a local attorney as soon as possible.

      • I took out a payday loan years again. The claim adjuster said I will go to jail and if I don’t pay up they would sent the police to my job. Can I go to jail if I don’t pay up?

        • – Never take legal advice from someone who doesn’t work for you. This would include creditors, debt collectors, or attorneys who are suing you.

          – I don’t know the law in the state where you live, but if you went to jail for simply defaulting on a debt, you would be the first that I’ve heard of.

          – Check out this post for more.

  6. I am now aware of a lawsuit against me for about 4000 for overdue and apparently unpaid utility bill accrued during my marrige. I had NO clue of this. Man showed up with a “stack of papers” at my old address. I have become disabled from work in the last three years, have no source of real income, aside what family can help me with. I am hoping on SSDI. The man told my sis that things in the home where I live now (home purchased from worker comp closing, co-owned w/hubby) can be sold?? All I have is this house and a vehicle. What is my risk of having them barge in and take the few things we have acquired? Is my husband (disabled too…) at risk? Is there any way I can protect the little we do have?? Any advice would be wonderful. the bill was gained in NJ… We now live in PA. Do state laws vary? Thank You.

    • Thanks for reading.

      Yes, state laws vary and this is a state-specific question. You should contact a local attorney to learn what exemptions are available to you, whether you are collection-proof, and whether bankruptcy is a viable option. Good luck!

  7. My exboyfriend is suing me over household and jewelry possessions. One in particular was a ring he gave me for our anniversary gift (he claims it was as an engagement ring). He is taking me to court because he has the time and mnoney and is doing this for spite. My only concern because I have never been in trouble before is what can happen to me. Can I be arressted, asked to pay him money (I am on SSDI and have no other income except for my daughters child support which is for her because she is only 12) I dont own a house and I have no other source of income. If they demand I have to pay him money how does that work since I dont have any money and how long can this request for money be held against me. Is this like a judgement and it goes away after so many years, or bankruptsy or expunged from my records. Please help me with my questions so that I know what I am up against.

    • Thanks for contributing. I can’t give legal advice on the Internet, but I can give you some general information. Keep in mind that this information may not pertain to your particular case. For advice relating to your specific situation, you should contact a local attorney.

      – If you are sued, you may have a judgment entered against you (which is an order that you pay money), but you will generally not be arrested. Exceptions to this rule: ignoring a court order to appear for a supplemental examination, ignoring a court order to submit a financial disclosure, etc.

      – If a money judgment is entered against you but you cannot pay and have no nonexempt assets, you may be uncollectible. This means that the judgment is valid, but the creditor cannot garnishee wages or levy against your property. Your local attorney can explain what assets are exempt in your state.

      – If a judgment for replevin (aka repossession) is entered against you, the sheriff may be employed to recover the specific asset. A judgment for replevin would be unusual on these facts, but your local attorney can explain more once he/she sees the complaint.

  8. I have a summons for a hearing , should i go to it since i have gone to an attorney, should i answer it , or call the lawyer suing to tell them i am filing bankruptcy and too call my attorney .

    • In my cases, sometimes we defend and sometimes we let the suit go to a default judgment. You should do whatever your attorney advised.

  9. I live in Florida and am 25 years old, I just got served papers the other day telling me to come to court (the process server told me if I don’t I’ll be held in contempt) I have 2 kids, no job, and no assets. My boyfriend works but I have 0 income. I don’t have money for an attorney and was wondering what you believe would happen if I went to court and simply told them I don’t have any money to pay? I am considering bankruptcy but was told it couldn’t happen for awhile cause I would have to do like 180 days of counseling before I could even file.

    • I can’t say what would happen. I’m not licensed to practice law in Florida, and do not know what Florida law provides.

      However, I can tell you that you got inaccurate information regarding bankruptcy. You do need to complete credit counseling. See this post for more information. The counseling must take place within 180 days of filing the bankruptcy, but it typically only takes an hour or so.

  10. My friend and I signed up with a phone contract under her name. We fell out and she cut my phone off and is now saying I owe her the disconnect fee for over $300. Can she take me to court? And should I be held accountable since I didn’t want my phone turned off in the first place?

    • If your ex-friend sues you, you can either defend yourself or hire an attorney. Consider whether it’s more cost effective to simply pay the claim than to defend.

      • My husband is being sued for a credit card of 9000.00 but I have sent them 2 payments and they sent them back..They want money but they won’t take the payments.How do we handle this??

        • Talk to a local attorney. He/she will contact the creditor and learn if there’s any room to negotiate. Good luck!

  11. I have land that has my name and my ex-boyfriends name on the deed. He just called and said he is being sued by a credit card company and wants me to sign my name off the land so he can sell it to pay the credit card company and he will give me some money as soon as he sells it. I’m wondering what will happens to my half if he really does gets sued and they win.

    • First, this is not legal advice. It is simply a generic answer to a hypothetical issue. For legal advice specific to your individual situation, you should speak to a local attorney.

      In Wisconsin, a judgment becomes a lien on any real estate owned by the debtor in the county in which the judgment is docketed. If the real estate is owned as joint tenants, the lien is only effective as to the judgment debtor’s interest. I don’t know if the law is similar in other states.

  12. I have already filed bankruptcy but has received a default judgement from one of my creditors. Do I need to appear to the court hearing? my lawyer said no and that they will send something to the courts. I just want to be sure I will not be held in contempt.

    • I can’t give legal advice over the Internet, and I certainly would never second-guess your attorney. After all, he/she knows your situation and I have never met you.

      Unless you have reason not to trust your bankruptcy lawyer, you should take his or her advice.

      • Thanks. Should people respond to default judgements?

        • Generally, a default judgment is entered if you failed to answer the complaint. So it’s usually too late to respond after the default judgment has been entered. But again, only your attorney can give you legal advice about your specific situation.

  13. I am currently being sued from a collecting agency for past unpaid CC debt for $3,200. I am currently working overseas and received the summons notice surely 30 days after the original filed date. My address is my parents home in US. I reside abroad due to work and not making much. But my current wages are deposited to my US bank account. Im already late for responding to the summons, what can i do? Will they have power to garnish my wages? I would deeply appreciate some advice.

    • If you don’t answer the complaint, the creditor will likely get a default judgment against you. Whether or not the creditor can garnishee your wages will depend on state law and whether your employer does business in the United States. A bank levy may also be possible, depending on your state exemption for bank accounts. I recommend you speak to a local attorney for more information.

    • Hey Jane,

      I’m not an attorney but i was a Debt collector for a short time and i do know that if you are active in the military you are somewhat protected. Here are some facts you can look into. But do give the Collection Agencies a call and let them know that you are active in the military and that there is not much you can do at the moment. I hope this helps!

      Active military have the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which grants special privileges regarding debt and debt collection so soldiers can focus on the immediate task at hand during active duty. The SCRA allows certain active military personnel and, in a few cases, non-service members, to suspend or postpone certain civil obligations as to not worry about financial concerns at home. A lender, creditor or insurer is prohibited by law from taking any adverse actions against military personnel because they exercised their rights under SCRA. Other important areas covered under the SCRA include:

      Default judgments
      Stay of proceedings
      Statutes of limitations
      Cap on interest rates
      Eviction proceedings
      Installment contract for property purchase
      Terminating home or vehicle leases

      The SCRA can only be exercised while engaged in active duty, including full-time training; annual training duty; and attendance at a service school while in active military service. Generally, the SCRA applies only to obligations and liabilities incurred prior to entering active duty and typically not those incurred during active duty.

      • Good point, Kris. I didn’t think of the possibility Jane was a servicemember.

  14. I think I will probably b sued for an unpaid loan to the tune of 2200.00. I was laid off from my job, have no funds to pay, will I b arrested???? Will they my property, washer, dryer something to try to pay for that loan???? Oh and should I ignore or take the complaint when the Sheriff serves it????

    • It all depends on where you live. See the original post for the process in Wisconsin. I’m not licensed to practice in any other state and don’t know the relevant laws in those states.

      In Wisconsin, you can’t be arrested for simply defaulting on a debt (absent fraud), you have exemptions available to protect most of your assets, and it would do no good to hide from law enforcement when they are trying to serve you with a summons and complaint. For information specific to your situation in your state, I recommend you speak with a local attorney.

  15. I applied for a cash advance loan. I didn’t receive a PENNY. Now I have numerous cash loan companies calling me, ALL ARE FOREIGN. What is bugging me is that now they’re saying I’m being sued. I applied on Friday and didn’t go through with it. I know that in order to be sued you have to be served, they immediately asked for my lawyers information. I declined and said that if they keep contacting me with false allegations and fraud on their part I will be forced to take legal action. If they even SEND something I will counter sue. But I feel that this is just some sort of scam.

    • Thanks for sharing.

      I think you’re right about it being a scam. If it is, you probably won’t hear from them again. They’ll just go after easier targets.

  16. I recently Contacted an attorney’s office in order to pay a judgment that was on my credit report from 2008. When I called they said That in order to talk to me about my debt they needed my permission to remove the no contact order that I had put on file so I said that was okay. I also found out I had an older judgement with them as well. I asked why this older judgement wasn’t on my credit report? They said they are a non reporting attorneys office to the credit bureaus??? I asked then why is this judgement from 2008 on my credit report? The attorney didn’t rely answer me? So I didn’t pay off the judgement because on my credit report it says I owe $1075, and the attorney says with their interest I owe over $1700!!! So I didn’t pay the debt because I didn’t have the money. A week later they called me and left me a message, I have the money to pay the debt now. If I call and pay the judgement from 2008, is there anyway to only pay the $1075? And put the no contact order back on my record so they can’t attempt to collect the older judgement??? Also can this old judgement go on my credit report? Or can they try and take money out of my bank account without my permission? Because they asked where I banked?

    • All of your questions need to be answered by a local attorney familiar with the applicable state law.

      In general, all settlements are negotiable, so it may be possible to settle the $1700 judgment for $1000. And most judgments will remain on your credit report for seven years, so that may be why the older judgment isn’t showing up.

  17. My ‘ex’ won a default judgement in small claims court against me, and I filled out the required ‘Financial Disclosure Statement’ and sent it back to him. I have no job and I am on Food Assistance. I received a letter from him today telling me that if I don’t pay him by April 1st, he will file contempt charges on me….Is that even right?

    • If a divorce agreement ordered you to pay and you failed to comply, you might be held in contempt. If it’s a run-of-the-mill small claims judgment, I don’t see how failing to pay the judgment could rise to the level of contempt, at least here in Wisconsin.

      As always, this is not legal advice. It is simply intended as general information. For legal advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

  18. I had to sue my ex because it was the only way he would reveal his retirement account details, so that my DRO might be prepared. I won, and was awarded $1k attorney fees. Of course, the ex has not paid, though he was ordered to over three months ago. He is on disability, SSDI, and is awaiting his disability retirement case to be concluded. He does drive a personal vehicle, and I gave him all ownership, title, and interest in our marital home at time of the divorce. I am pondering whether I should pursue him for contempt and what options I might have that are most likely to result in my getting the $1k out of him.. He does not pay child support. My child is on SSI and SSDI. I am disabled, as well. Somewhere, I have read about people taking out liens on houses/cars, etc? Is that expensive, and would I need to hire an attorney to get it done?

    • You should speak with your family law attorney. He or she will be able to tell you how/if you can collect on the debt.

  19. I was sued in 2006. Basically it was a petty bar fight that has now ruined my life. I have no money, 5 kids, and I was ordered to pay $15,000. Now it’s $20,000. I can’t bankrupt because it’s tort. What do I do?

    • I can’t give legal advice on this blog. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to meet with a local attorney. I recommend you contact a bankruptcy attorney soon. Not all torts are nondischargeable in bankruptcy, and many people are uncollectible even without bankruptcy protection.

  20. I was sued by a debt collector in 2009 and had a judgement against me. It’s been over 4 years since the court date and have not been able to pay. Now the account is handed off to another debt collector trying to collect. My states statute of limitations is 4 years. Can I be sued again for this debt? What will happen? Please help

    • That’s a question for your local attorney. In most jurisdictions, a judgment is good for a longer period of time than the Statute of Limitations for collections. It’s possible that the judgment creditor sold its judgment to another agency and that agency is now trying to collect on the judgment. Again, you need to speak to a local attorney for legal advice. I only give general information not specific to any individual case on this blog.

  21. I am being sued by my ex on a vehicle that was never in my name nor do I still have or own. Does she have an legal rights to sue me being that I never had anything legally in my name?

    • That’s a very fact-specific question that only your attorney can answer. In general, anyone can sue anyone for anything. Whether the plaintiff will win or what the damage award will be is a different question.

      In this case, your attorney will want to know why you are being sued, how much she is asking for, what happened to the vehicle, if you ever signed anything agreeing to repay the money, if you deny owing the money, etc. Try to have as much of that information available when you meet with him/her.

  22. I just recently found out that I’m being sued for just under $1,000 for a loan I took out back in September 201/ with First Franklin Financial. I was unable to make any payments (I took out the loan of $650 for medical bills) because I got two speeding tickets and had to pay those and court fees shortly after, to prevent from going to jail. I work but don’t make much, I’ve fallen behind in my car payments, what can I do to settle this without further damages to my credit and without racking up more costs in court fees?? Help!!

    • I can’t advise you online. Depending on where you live, what other debt you have, your income, your household size, etc., bankruptcy or some other debt-relief solution may be in your best interests. For advice specific to your individual situation, you should speak with a local bankruptcy attorney.

  23. Hi. A judgment was just recently placed on my husbands credit report from our homeowners association. This case is currently in civil court. We initially disputed this charge we we first received the notice, but the court office states that they never received our letter. My husband is currently in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. I want to contact his bankruptcy lawyer, but I wanted to know if I could still fight this before I shell out more attorney fees. Doesn’t the HOA have to ask the court for a relief of stay before pursuing this debt? We live in Kentucky by the way.

    • That’s a question for your bankruptcy attorney. Generally, a creditor must get relief from the stay before suing to collect. But there are exceptions. Your attorney can probably resolve the issue more efficiently than you can, so I recommend you contact him/her as soon as possible.

  24. I was supposed to be a model for an agency in the States (I’m in Canada) with promises of money, all-expense paid trips and hotel rooms, etc. I never signed a single sheet of paper that said I would work for them. I was never sent any money for the photos I did send. He fired me a few days ago because of school and sickness, I have no time to work. Today he messaged me wanting to see work again. I told him I’m done, that I don’t want to work for him. He is threatening to sue me for the money he apparently invested into me. Again, I’ve signed absolutely nothing. It was all verbal. He doesn’t have any of my banking information or even my SIN number. Without my signature on paperwork, can he actually sue me?

    • While a verbal contract *can* be enforceable, I don’t know enough about your case to give an opinion one way or the other. I also am not licensed to practice law in Canada and my comments based on Canadian law would be of no use to you.

      I recommend you contact a local attorney who can give you legal advice. Your attorney can tell you if the contract is enforceable, whether your age at the time of entering into the alleged contract is relevant, and can look into whether this agent is legit.

  25. Mr. Nason

    I’ve read how you were able to help many of the writers, so hopefully you can shed some light on my situation. About ten years ago, I was in high school. My parents had just split, so I acted out. I hung out with the wrong crowd and got arrested, my mom without thinking hired a really expensive lawyer to handle my case, whom later sued me for non-payment. However these lawyers left me in jail twice without doing anything. But I understand that most cases the judge is going to side with the lawyers. I don’t have a problem with that… It was a long time ago, I’m over it. It took me a long time to get back up for the fall I created at a young age. I’m back in school finishing a degree before I head to Commercial Pilot Academy! I’ve contacted these lawyers many time asking if they could work with me on any way, I’ve offered 33% I saved for an entire year to offer them $5,000 to removed the lien against me to rebuild my credit.. However they won’t work with me whatsoever, which really is tough considering I haven’t been paying them. Cause they want payments of $1000 each month for a year and half… Can’t do that! Is there any options I have? I will follow though on everything you suggest, I deseparately seek a normal life again…

    S. Adams

    • Thanks for reading, but I don’t give legal advice on this blog, only general information. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

      Without telling you what is best in your situation, I can say that if you can’t pay the debt in full or pay a negotiated smaller sum in full satisfaction of the debt, a bankruptcy filing *might* be the answer. Run-of-the-mill small claims judgments are typically discharged in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Depending on where you live, you might also have some state law remedies, such as Wisconsin’s Chapter 128 debt amortization. A bankruptcy filing could be the smartest financial move in your situation, as it could give you the fresh start you’re looking for. The NACBA Attorney Finder can help you find a consumer bankruptcy attorney in your area who will discuss your case and tell you if bankruptcy makes sense for you. Good luck!

  26. I recently received a call from my ex girlfriend saying her aunt is going to sue me for $500.. I year ago I bailed my ex out jail with 500 dollars cash. I received a check in the mail from the court with my name refunding me the 500 dollars. I cashed and spent the 500 dollars. Her aunt claims the 500 is hers and therefore is suing me for cashing the check and using. Is this something to be worried about?

    • Anyone *can* sue. The question is whether the suit will have any merit or whether the plaintiff will win. Without knowing the facts (why does the aunt feels the refund belongs to her? Is she represented by a lawyer?), no attorney can properly advise you. Even with that information, I wouldn’t be able to give you legal advice over the Internet.

      If you’re concerned, you should speak with a local attorney. To save a little money on legal fees, you might want to wait until a suit has actually been filed so you’re not paying for advice based on a hypothetical situation.

  27. I foolishly opened a car loan in June 2012 in my name for my ex. In oct 2012 he was arrested and the car was towed. I immediately called the car comp and told them the situation and where they could pick up the car. I had to go to the tow lot and sign paper giving auth for the car lot to take over the car. I heard nothing after that and assumed they had the car. I got a summons to court a few days ago for breach of contract. The tow lot would not release the car to my car.comp because it hadnt been registered. The car comp is requesting 19,000 from me for the balance of the loan. They also summoned the tow lot. Please help I need some advice on what steps I should take.

    • Thanks for reading, but I don’t give legal advice on this blog, I only give general information. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.nacba.org/

      With that in mind, your first step should be speaking with an attorney. He/she will be able to analyze your case and give you some options. If you simply ignore the summons, the lender will likely get a default judgment and try to collect on it. Good luck!

  28. I live in ny and am being sued for a car accident i was in im 18 and currently unemployed and have no money what are some options i have and the car was registered and insured by my uncle

    • The only advice I can give is to contact a local attorney. I don’t give legal advice over the Internet and I’m not licensed to practice law anywhere but Wisconsin.

      I can provide general information online, but not legal advice. Beware of ANYONE offering legal advice online without meeting you. A reputable lawyer will want to discuss your problem with you before offering any solutions.

  29. I’m getting sued for a $500 cash advance I got quite a few years back… I have no way to pay and have no income at this time… I was wondering if they will be allowed to go after my house or vehicles???

    • For legal advice specific to your personal situation, you need to contact a local attorney. I don’t give legal advice over the Internet.

      In some jurisdictions, a small claims judgment may be a lien against your property. If that’s the case where you live (and your attorney can tell you if it is), the lien would most likely be junior in priority to any existing liens and any exemptions your state law affords.

  30. I am unfortunately going through the unpleasant event of being sued by capital one, for 1900$. I have been in contact them since becoming unemployed over a year ago, and have tried several time to set up some kind of payment arrangements but these offers were unfortunately not accepted, so I could not pay. They of course they resorted to having collection agencies come after me, I have had this happen in the past but have never been sued especially for suck a small amount. I don’t have much but I don’t want my bank account closed or frozen, or my car which isn’t even running taken. I take care of my mother so I have no home or savings, but I am at a loss for what to do, all of the research I have done has led me to file an answer with the court and the Lawyers representing Capital one, however I know that this too will most likely result in a hearing and the judge will likely rule in Capital One’s favor since I can’t produce any evidence the debt was not mine and result in wage garnishment and them taking my vehicle and freezing my bank accouts.. Is there anything I can do? It seems like a lose lose situation, If I ignore it they get the judgment If I go to the hearing they still wit because I legitimately owe the debt. I had no choice but to live on dit during hard times while unemployed. Please any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea how to fill out these papers, any advice where to get free help to do so would also be appreciated thank you.

    • Most states have free legal services available for those that qualify. Your state bar association might also have some information for you.

      A judgment creditor cannot execute on a debtor’s property if the property is exempt under applicable state law. I recommend you speak to a local attorney to find out what your state exemptions will allow you to protect and whether or not you are currently collection-proof.

  31. My home is going into foreclosure and I’ve stopped making payments for the HOA fees. I received via the mail to continue the case because I’ve not been served. They are stating that if I do not show up for the court date that they will issue a Civil Warrant Arrest. Is that possible?

    • In Wisconsin, you don’t have to attend a foreclosure hearing if you don’t plan to defend. If you fail to show up, the creditor will be granted a default judgment and will sell the place at a sheriff’s sale in 6-12 months. You can contact a local attorney by using the attorney finder at nacba.org to learn about the laws in your state.

  32. I recently got In a accident where I collided with 2 other cars. I was unaware I didnt have insurance due.to no cancellation letter we were fighting with the insurance company to begin with because they had 3 different accounts and different license for me. Besides the point there was no insurance and I hit them. The insurance company is sueing me for 10,000.

    I’m a student and have bills to pay I work full time but only make 17000 a year. I still live with my parents and the only thing I own is a 95 cutlass. Theres no way I can afford this. What wil happen to me? I just got my credit up to a 715 and have an open loan. I dont want to file bankruptcy.

    • If you don’t defend in the lawsuit, the insurance company will be awarded a default judgment in the case. After judgment has been entered, the insurance company will have whatever collection remedies your state allows at its disposal. These may include bank levies, wage garnishments, or executions against nonexempt assets.

  33. my ex common law husband beat me and my son up i had to run for my safty 3 years ago he took me to court for the laptop he bought me and ring he bought 2 years before that was directed to give the ring and laptop back and pay $5280.00 i was unable to be home for this court case as i was in the hospital in calgary i had surgery so my dad was there they didnt even wanna listen to the abeating myself and son had to go through im on assistance and this man is now following me around contacting via email and phoning saying i owe him all this money and that there gonna start taking it off my monthy check is this true and do i have any right he is making comments that he has naked pics of me and they are gonna put in on the internet of me

    • This sounds like stalking to me. Whether or not he has a valid claim upon which to sue is the least of the problems. I recommend you contact a local attorney immediately, preferably someone experienced in domestic violence issues. Your attorney may recommend you also contact local law enforcement.

  34. I have received a letter from the Gloucester County Sheriff’s office (in NJ) of a levy against my home and property for an unsecured $11,606 debt from 2006. I am married, but the debt is my name only.

    I was separated from my wife and lived in NC from 04 til 09. I returned from NC in Jan 09. I am unemployed, without income. I wish to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however, I do not have the money for the fees. If I could afford these fees, I would be able to pay my debts. Can you advise me on this?

    In other words, how can I file for bankruptcy if I can’t afford a lawyer?

    • You are allowed to file bankruptcy without an attorney. But it’s not usually advised, because there are so many things that can go wrong when you don’t understand the system and rules.

      I recommend you speak with a local attorney. You can find someone at Nacba.org. Without speaking to someone, you can’t know how much an attorney would charge to help you. If you truly can’t afford to hire someone, you may be uncollectible and not need bankruptcy protection. A good consumer law attorney will tell you if bankruptcy isn’t the answer in your situation. Good luck!

  35. Hello. Last year I was hospitalized for appendicitis. My insurance company sent me a check that was made out to me, and, foolishly, I kept the check, not understanding the seriousness of such an act at the time. Since then, I have learned some things, and now I regret my action and want to make it right. I am currently paying off all but one of the bills. This one bill is the biggest one. I have contacted the office and spoken to them, and told them that i wish to start paying it off, but was told that because they are aware that my insurance sent me the check that would have covered most of the bill, they won’t accept payments. That was several months ago, and i hadn’t heard anything back from them, so i called them again yesterday to follow up. I spoke to the collections office and she said the same thing, and told me that she would have the collections manager call me and maybe we could work something out. They’re understandably angry that i kept the check, but i really want to pay them what I’m able to pay. I’m scared that they might try to take me to court despite my efforts to pay them. Could they press criminal charges? Could I go to jail? What are my chances of settling this out of court? Please help, I’m very concerned.

    • The hospital likely had a lien on the insurance proceeds. While many insurance companies will make the check out to both the medical provider and the patient (preventing problems like this), not all do.

      As long as you’re willing to repay the debt, I don’t see a D.A. pursuing this criminally. The hospital may sue, but there’s no benefit to doing so when you’re willing to pay. If the hospital isn’t willing to work with you, contact a local attorney. He or she can deal with the hospital collections office and probably work out an acceptable payment plan.

  36. I am fixing to be served papers by a attorney for non payment on credit card in the amount of $3,000 what will I have to do ? We I have to go to court ? I have offered to settle with them for $1500 and they said no they said I could set up payment of 775.00 a month for 6 monts but I afford that ! That is more them my house payment ! What will happen in court or what can I do ? I am in South Carolina

    • That’s a state-specific question. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

      As a general matter, if you ignore a small claims summons and complaint, the creditor will get a default judgment and then begin collecting on that judgment. If you are employed, this may include wage garnishments up to the limit imposed by your state law. Check out NACBA.org to find a consumer bankruptcy attorney in your area.

  37. I found out thru a friend that I’m being sued in small claims court. I’ve never been served. Can they get a default judgement against me?

    • Maybe. Some jurisdictions allow service by publication (basically, a notice in your local newspaper) if personal service is impractical or if personal service has been attempted and failed. Before filing the motion for default judgment, the plaintiff will usually file an affidavit of service, showing how the defendant was served.

      Now that you know about the suit, I recommend you contact a local attorney who can tell you if service was proper and whether you have any other viable defenses.

  38. Presently, i am going to criminal court. My former employee is saying i stole 17,000 from them. They have also filed a lawsuit. On the lawsuit, can a judgement be given if i am not found guilty in criminal court.

    • Yes. The civil trial and criminal trial are two different proceedings with two different standards of proof. For example, OJ Simpson was found not guilty in his criminal trial, but was found liable in his wrongful death civil trial.

  39. I was recently informed that I am being sued for $5,000 that I had received as a bonus from work. I ended up quiting and had paid back the bonus I received. However, I am still being sued. I have proof from my bank statements that I had paid it and I have considered hiring a lawyer but I do not know if it is the right decision. Also, would I be able to counter sue if they persist?

    • If you’re unsure, speaking with a local attorney is probably your best bet. He/she can tell you if this suit has any merit and if the facts suggest you may have a counterclaim.

  40. i wrote and recieved good advice from bret and i sure thank him. i paid in two payments a computor in 1999 then had a judgement and levy on my bank account from a summons i never recieved. bret said to get a good attorney which i did and the attorney put a quash on the summons and i won because the attorney did a paper trail and found i was in fact innocent and the judge granted the motion and guess what the other side did not show up at all. i paid over $20,000.00 for a $450.00 computor that was paid off in 1999 the judge said unbelieveable that this was done to someone. always get legal advice i thought i couldnt afford to you can’t afford not to i get all my money back from my bank account and all over payment $20,000.00 and i have my good name back means alot

    • I’m glad things worked out for you!

  41. I was served with a judgement im being sued for $1500. I contacted the attorneys office to see if I could set up some kind of payments. He offered for me to pay $75 bi-weekly, I ask him if I could pay a little less he refused. I dont know what to do, he says that I will save more money by paying him then following through to court and letting them garnish my wages

    • Assuming this is a legitimate debt, you would probably save money by voluntarily paying the creditor. If the creditor incurs legal fees and filing fees, those will be added to the amount of your debt. And if the creditor has to garnish your wages, your employer might charge a nominal fee for processing the garnishment.

      The only advice I can give is to speak with a local attorney. You might be collection-proof, you might have state law remedies available to you, or maybe a bankruptcy filing makes sense in your situation. Only a lawyer who has looked at your full financial picture can give legal advice and recommend the best solution.

  42. my husband currently has a suspended license for failure to carry minimum car insurance. It just so happens he was involved in a car accident and owes $12,000. It has been a few years since the case has been closed. What are our options? We would like to settle this but dont know who to contact. We are currently financially ready to take care of this case but dont know who to contact. any advice would be helpful.

    • You should speak with a local attorney. He or she can tell you if the debt could be discharged in a bankruptcy, if it makes more sense to settle with the other party, or what steps your husband needs to take to get his license back. If you have little other debt and are able to pay the judgment amount, your attorney will be able to help you resolve the matter as efficiently as possible.

  43. I’m not sure what to do. The BK attorney I have , who is pro bono, just keeps asking me what I want to do. I really don’t want to claim BK, I need to buy a car and will buy one before BK is filed. What do you think about that? I owe about 35K in cc. Being summoned by 4 creditors. I have been unemployed off and on for 7 years. Constantly am under employed and now make $380.00/week. I’m holding off claiming BK because I want to pay these creditors and not have this on my record. I’m 60 yrs old. The Bk will also be an extra burden in getting any kind of a decent job, in addition to higher insurance rates. Everything is very stressful. Some of the creditors want to settle by 60%..right now I don’t have the money. I have just started a job that pays only $380.00. If I owe 35K…how much do I need to make to be able to pay the creditors over time and be able to save? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • You need to ask your attorney these questions. He or she will be able to tell you if you are collection-proof or if settling your debts makes more sense than filing bankruptcy in your situation.

      Don’t rely on legal advice given online; no reputable attorney will give advice without meeting with you and analyzing your individual circumstances. If you are unhappy with your attorney, you can hire someone else. I recommend contacting a NACBA member if you are considering this.

  44. Hello

    So I guess my mom was going into business with this lady. And tw woman gave my mom $10,000. It all happened last year. I think my mom gave the lady two checks, $5,000 on each check. But they bounced. So now the lady wants her money back. But my mom said there was no contracts signed. So does she have to pay the woman back?? The lady and her husband came to our house two times. They were banging on the door and ringing the doorbell. And now the sheriff has come by 2 times with what I’m assuming is a court summons. I don’t know if I should open the door or not..

    • Dodging the sheriff won’t keep your mother from getting sued. If she is sued, she can either defend or consent to a default judgment. A local attorney can tell if she has any valid defenses, but he/she will need to see the allegations in the complaint.

  45. Ok, so here is the dilemma… I helped with the purchase of a vehicle by taking out a car loan and the vehicle is still in my name. The girl wanted me to buy it for her because she did not have a drivers license at the time. I kept the title of the car until she got her license, however i did not put anything on paper or sign documents stating our agreement, i have also been taking care of the insurance payments. Later the parent of the girl contacts me saying that they want their daughter to have the title, but they also wanted me to pay the full amount of car loan plus the interest. The parents were paying the daughter to pay me to cover the loan payments. However, the parents were unaware that i was even involved… This plus the daughter got in a car accident while the boyfriend was driving without my knowledge. Then the daughter had withheld information from the parents causing the end result of the parents wanting to sue me for the car loan amounts plus the interest that had accured. Invalidating any verbal agreements between the daughter and me. I am torn between hiring legal help and conceding to pay the amounts that were requested. This situation haunts me for trying to do a good thing.

    • If the parents decide to sue you, you’ll have to decide if you want to defend or consent to a judgment. Your attorney will be able to tell you if you have a valid defense. I don’t give legal advice online, so I can’t render an opinion on your specific case.

  46. My ex parent’s in law are trying to sue me for being on my car loan. A couple of months before I was divorced my mother in law cosigned on a vehicle with me. When I signed the divorce papers, I signed my house over to my ex husband and he signed that the car will be in my name so long as I get all the debt out of the Respondent’s (my husbands) name. THIS DEBT WAS NEVER IN HIS NAME IN THE FIRST PLACE, he didn’t have a license at the time so we didn’t even add him to the loan or title.

    8 months after the divorce his mother decided that she wanted her name taken off the loan and title immediately or she was going to take legal action and said I was in contempt with the court. She is using the above statement “Petitioner should do everything in their power to remove said debts (the car) from respondents name.” as leverage to sue me.

    I called the loan company in the past and they wouldn’t refinance the car for the full amount leaving me to pay way more than I can afford out of pocket. So I haven’t done anything to remove her name. However, I haven’t done anything to cause her trouble either. I have been making the payments on time and never defaulted on a month.

    Is it possible that she will be able to sue? Or will the court essentially tell her “too bad?”


    • You’ll need to talk to your divorce attorney about this. But as a general matter, it doesn’t sound like much of a case.

      Your divorce agreement is not binding on a third party, like the car lender. You can’t force the lender to remove MIL from the note. If you don’t pay, she’ll be liable because she signed the note. And because she wasn’t a party to that contract, I don’t see what grounds MIL would have to sue.

      Of course, this is only general information and NOT legal advice. The law in your state may be different. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

  47. My ex boyfriend left voluntarily over four months ago. He had left numerous personal items behind because he had no where to store the items and couldn’t afford to place them in storage. He owes me money and states he can’t afford to pay me, but he has money to drink, I’ve seen him in bars drinking on Friday nights. Can I sell some of his things to recoup the money he owes me.

    • Maybe. It all depends on what your state law says.

      If your state law allows it, you may be allowed to sell his assets and claim the proceeds as a setoff against the debt you are owed. It’s also possible that your only remedy lies in court and you will need to sue and get a court order before doing anything to his property.

      I don’t give legal advice online. You need to speak with a local attorney for legal advice specific to your situation. He or she will be able to tell you if you have any legal or equitable interest in the property that was left behind. Maybe it’s considered abandoned, maybe you are required to keep it safe for him. This is a very fact-specific and state-specific question.

  48. I was left a house when my parents died. I let my brother put the house in his name because I’m about to file bankruptcy. It has to come out of my brother’s name he has legal and financial problems. Can I put the house in my name under my business name? Then will it be safe since it is completely paid for and the bankruptcy court wont be able to touch it. Or should I put it in a trust. Please Help!

    • You need to speak with your bankruptcy attorney about this BEFORE making any more transfers. Transferring assets before filing bankruptcy can put them at risk. State law will determine how far back the trustee can go to undo any fraudulent transfers and bring assets into the bankruptcy estate. If your attorney doesn’t know about this house, there is no way he/she can protect it for you. It’s much easier to prevent a problem than to fix one.

  49. hi ,i’m out of country now and i got an email from cash company that i used to get loan a years back . so i don’t know how handle this, please help. This is the email i got :

    My name xxxxxxxx From Cash USA. Reason of this email is that we have registered a case against you.

    Following is your information.

    Name: xxxxxx

    Social Security Number#########
    Outstanding Debt: $686.00(including late payment charges)

    Penalty in the court: $8526.35

    Attorney and court fees: $1500+

    Creditors- Cash USA which is a parent company of more then 400 cash websites and internet web portals
    in USA and operates under different names in different states.

    Apart from getting laid off by your current employer after we send them the legal notice you will be blacklisted from getting any job.
    Please let us know what is your intention by today itself so we can hold the case or else we will meet you in court house.

    • This sounds a lot like the scam I wrote about HERE.

      I’d delete the email and forget about it. But if you’re concerned, you should speak to a local attorney once you get back in the U.S. He/she can give you legal advice specific to your individual situation.

  50. I get a letter today from some law office informing me of some legal case that was filed against me .Of course they offered to represent me.Now the suit was filed in a county i have never even been in for at least a year do thise cases need to be filed in the county that what had happened in?I have no idea what this is about.Any Help you can give will e appreciated.

    • Some attorneys subscribe to a service that lets them know whenever someone is sued. The lawyer can then send out an offer to represent the defendant, which sometimes arrives before the defendant even knows he’s been sued! The proper venue for the lawsuit will depend on your state’s civil procedure statutes.

      It’s a personal decision, but I recommend you contact a local attorney that you trust rather than respond to unsolicited mail. If you don’t know anyone, ask for recommendations from friends or family members.

  51. My mother in law is being sued by her family members for embezzlement of over $200.000 , she never showed up to any court dates and finally got papers claiming when the garnishments were going to start. The sheriff came to her home and took her vehicle. We have not talked to her in a long time last we heard she quit her job & we think she took off to another state somewhere. What do you think happens in this type of situation? Can she be arrested if ever found even though this was considered at the time a civil judgement?

    • It depends on your state law. If she disobeys a court order, she could be cited for contempt and brought in. But simply not paying a judgment debt isn’t grounds for arrest in most jurisdictions.

  52. I am an artist who works in polymer clay, I’ve had a letter written to me by a designer of 2d work saying I’ve infringed on her copyrights by making art that is derivitive of her 2d designs. I’m not being sued but asked a number of things like to take down my art, release my customer info, and pay a fee of $750 to pay for damages and atty fees. I have a week to comply or offer is off the table and I will be sued. I am low income making less than $1,000 a month. I don’t know if i should comply with this letter in some of the terms but I am unable at this holiday season having 3 small children to pay this fee. All other terms can be complied with. I’m on the fence of should I agree to the guilt of possibly deriving this work or just ignoring this letter and see if they sue me. They are threatening me with the numbers of $150,000 which I could never pay. I have no idea what to do.

    • You should speak to someone local who is experienced in Intellectual Property law. If you don’t know of anyone, your state bar association should be able to point you in the right direction.

  53. I was sued in Small Claims a couple of years ago in Wisconsin and was un-garnishable because I live below the poverty line. What happens if I am always unable to pay the amount? Will the claim be on my credit and in judgement forever?

    • No. Judgments in Wisconsin are good for 10 years. After that, the creditor may renew the judgment. However, if you get a higher-paying job and become collectible before the judgment expires, the creditor may try to collect at that time.

  54. Can Small Loan lenders come to your job and serve lawsuit papers?

    • Depending on where you live, the creditor may be required to serve you personally with the summons and complaint. Process servers typically attempt service at your home. If the process server cannot find you there, he/she may look for you elsewhere. Because it’s easier and cheaper, most creditors will serve by mail or publication if they cannot serve you at home.

  55. I have found through ccap that I am being sued for medical bills. How long after the complaint and summons is filed until they generally deliver the summons? If I am not at home will they deliver to anyone at the house? Also, is there any way to tell the way it will be delivered by my ccap information?
    Thank you

    • In Wisconsin, once the summons and complaint have been filed, the creditor is responsible for having them served on the debtor. Depending on who is hired for the service (many use the local sheriff’s department), actual service might be a week or two after filing. Once the creditor receives confirmation that the debtor has been served, the creditor will file an affidavit that service has been made and a hearing will be set by the court.

      Here are the rules for service of process in Wisconsin.

      CCAP won’t tell you how the creditor will attempt service. It will usually be by sheriff, but some creditors may use private process servers. one counties allow service by first class mail in certain circumstances.

      If you can’t afford the judgment, you should speak with a local attorney about your debt-relief options.

  56. Hello, thanks for posting such helpful information. My issue is similar to one above. I was served by an officer a summons from a private student loan collector. I owe thousands but there is no way I can pay. I am currently unemployed and have been for almost 3 years. I have no assets, make less than 200 per week from unemployment. I have no bank account, my credit has already been entirely ruined and I filed bankruptcy for medical and credit debt 3 years ago. I thought if I didn’t appear in court id be arrested but I’ve realized that isn’t true through many sources. I read that sometimes you advise not to respond or appear. In my case, I do owe the debt but I am definitely not collectable. Is there even a point in appearing in court if I have no defense, no wages no garnish, etc. Also, if I decide not to appear, what happens next and does it affect the lawsuit in any way or affect me negatively for ignoring the summons? I just don’t see what the point of appearing is. I’m completely broke, I live in Chicago and my car is unreliable as it is and we are experiencing a winter storm so It would be a huge hassle to appear, cost for parking, etc. In your opinion and I understand you cannot give direct legal advise, but from what I’ve told you would it be ok to not appear/respond if they wont be able to collect anyway? Thanks again for giving your time to help, much appreciated and respected.

    • I’m not licensed to practice in Illinois, so I can’t speak to the laws in your state. In general, if you don’t show up, the creditor will get a default judgment. Depending on the facts of your specific situation, you may have a defense. For example, is the plaintiff the original creditor or a debt buyer? If it’s a debt buyer, can the plaintiff prove that you owe the money? Your local attorney can help you decide if you have a viable defense or not.

      Student loans are tough. They’re rarely dischargeable in bankruptcy, but you can sometimes work with the creditors to work out reasonable payment plans. If you contact a local bankruptcy attorney, ask if they work with student loans. If not, ask who they would recommend. This is a growing problem and more attorneys are learning about the options available to borrowers.

  57. Back in may of 2013, I was driving my jeep and my tire fell off. The other driver hit it and it broke her headlight. We exchanged numbers and the next day she called saying I have to pay her $500 deductable or she’ll sue me. I talked to her insurance and they said she shouldn’t be contacting me. Cut to January, I’m being sued by her insurance company for 2,000 (thats including the deductable). She changed her story now and I have no way to prove it because I didn’t take pictures. I am unemployeed trying to get on disability and live with my father. I have no property for them to take and no money at all other than 100 in the bank. What should I do and what will happen?

    • I don’t give legal advice online, only general information. For legal advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

      It’s possible you’re collection-proof, meaning that the other driver can get a judgment against you but won’t be able to garnish wages or levy against your property. Your attorney can tell you the proper course of action to take. Good luck.

  58. I know a debtor can put a lien on bank accounts in Texas. Are they able to freeze/garnish money I have on credit cards? In other words, if I have $500 available on my credit card, could they take that $500 making me owe it on that card?

    • Unless you’re talking about a prepaid credit card, you don’t have $500 available for creditors to take. For example, Chase can’t make an unauthorized charge to your Capital One credit card to pay your Chase debt.

      If it’s a prepaid card and the bank is actually holding your money, Texas law might allow creditors to levy against those funds. As I’m only licensed to practice in Wisconsin, I can’t give legal advice on Texas law. For advice specific to your situation, speak to a local attorney. You can find a NACBA member at NACBA.org.

  59. I am being sued for 4000 from 2009. I have no income. Live in housing. Live on food stamps. I can’t afford an attorney. It’s being held in Wisconsin and I have lived in Illinois for 5 years. Please help

    • If you can’t afford to hire an attorney to represent you, you may be able to get help at your local legal aid clinic. In Wisconsin, you can contact Legal Action or Judicare. I assume Illinois has similar programs.

  60. I recently had a creepy guy come to my door with a judgement stating that I need to appear in court. It is from a credit card that I owe money on (Walmart), it is for about $1100. I am on SSD and after I receive my monthly payment and pay bills, get prescriptions, etc I have no money. Can my check be garnished? Can my bank account be frozen?

    • Social Security benefits are exempt from collection activities. If you have commingled funds in your bank account (some SSD, some employment income, some gifts, some rental income, etc.) your state law might allow creditors to go after those funds. Speak to a local attorney to find out if your bank account is at risk.

  61. Hi,
    I live in Los Angeles California and I have won a judgment against someone who owes me money in the amount of $3,000. I have successfully been able to obtain a lien on his rental property, as well as a lien on the security deposit for the property that he rents. Additionally I have been able to successfully garnish the rent from his tenant for his rental property (Which is currently being held by the sheriff’s department).

    My question is, is there a chance that he might be able to oppose the rent collection that I collected based on financial hardship? Also, He has ignored an order for financial disclosure, Does that put him in contempt? I also know that he is on probation for a drunk driving conviction, do you suppose that this violates his probation?

    Thank You, any information would be helpful.

    • Sorry, I don’t give legal advice on this blog, only general information. Even if I did give advice, I can’t comment on California law, as I’m only licensed to practice in Wisconsin.

      For legal advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak to a local attorney. I recommend you search for someone who handles debt collection.

  62. I have two payday loans I simply can’t repay. How likely are they to sue me? I’m on SSI.

    • You need to speak with a local attorney for advice specific to your situation. In general, some creditors will sue even if the debtor is collection-proof, while others won’t waste the time or money.

  63. My dog was attacked and almost killed, by the neighbors dog, a year and a half ago, July 2012. We, the neighbor and I, took my dog to the vet. The vet took my neighbors debit card (actually ebt (welfare card)) info, so they could debit it monthly, to pay for the bill. My neighbor always took the money out before the vet could. So, the vet went after me for the money; which I didn’t feel I should pay, so didn’t. It went to collections.

    Today, someone came to the house, while I was at work, and talked to my son. He handed my son a court summons and was taking pictures of my vehicles. I have a ’68 camaro and a ’73 camaro. He asked if they were for sale. My son was clueless and didn’t know he was handed a court summons. My son thought the guy was really interested in my cars, so my son gave him my cell phone number. FYI, my cars are not for sale and never will be. The guy wishes!

    I just wanted to know if this is legal? I don’t like this guy coming on my property and taking pictures of my stuff, besides the fact I’m being sued. Also, the attorney on the summons, Jeffrey G. Yonek, who is located in Olympia, WA, listed his address as being the same as the collection agency’s, Credit International Corporation, which is in Bothell, WA. I googled them both and they have bad reviews. Just saying.

    Any info you could give would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • The only legal advice I can give is to speak to a local attorney. Service of a summons and complaint is a state-law issue. Depending on what your state law requires, serving your son may be allowed. My guess is that the person taking photos was looking to see if you have any non-exempt property that could be used to pay a potential judgment. Your attorney can tell you what exemptions are available in your state. Good luck!

  64. I’m trying to sell my house and I just recently found out that I have a judgment against me in Oneida county, NY back in 2008. I was not aware of it nor was I summoned with any paperwork. I contacted the attorney that filed the judgment, but they’re no longer handling the case and they had turned it back over to a collection agency,  now the collection agency wants double the amount of the original $3000. What should I do at this point? If I knew about it I would’ve dealt with it back then. Do I just agree to their terms and pay it off, they will not settle for anything less….

    I left the state of Utica NY in 2006 and moved to Texas, right now I’m in the state of South Carolina. 

    • Interesting set of facts. Judgment entered in NY while you lived in TX is now causing problems for a real estate transaction in SC. Since I’m not licensed to practice in any of those states, I can’t give you legal advice. If the house is located in NY, I’d contact a NY attorney to help negotiate with the judgment creditor. If the house is in SC, a SC attorney should be able to help. My guess is that the creditor will accept some lesser amount to satisfy the judgment and allow the sale to close.

      Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  65. Hello, I had a judgment rendered against me in 2010. I made all payments to the law office that won the judgment and the judgment is paid in full. I have just received a letter from another law office saying I owe $3000 in interest and that my account had been with them since 2012. I made all payments to the same place for 4 years and they cashed all of my checks and I have a payment ledger showing I am paid in full and overpaid $12. How can another company say I owe them interest of $3000 when I made all my payments to the judgment law office? Will I have to pay this?

    • It’s possible the original creditor sold the debt or hired two different collection firms. The different firms probably don’t know that the other is working on the file. You should contact a local attorney who represents debtors (NACBA.org is a good place to start) to help you resolve this.

  66. I have been on Social Security Disability for the last ten years as my sole source of income. In 2013, I was sued by my former landlord for past due rent, and they got a default judgment against me. My disability benefits were exempt from seizure though, I had no other assets, and so they couldn’t collect.

    Within the last year however, I have started a home-based tutoring business as part of Social Security’s “Working While Disabled Program” that allows me to make income while still getting benefits. This additional income is not protected from being levied, as far as I can tell.

    My question is, can I make my tutoring business an LLC, to separate those assets from my personal liability? Does the fact that I would be creating an LLC after I already have a judgment against me, put me in contempt?

    I know a judgement creditor can then get a “charging order’ against an LLC, but I read that because they don’t have the power to distribute the funds, the money basically remains safe once it’s an LLC — and I am in California.

    I just don’t want to be in contempt by creating an LLC for my business, since I already have he judgement, and that is my concern.

    • That’s a California-specific question. As I’m not licensed to practice law in California, my opinion would be meaningless.

      I recommend you speak to a local debtors’ attorney. He/she can tell you if shielding assets via an LLC is allowed in California. The issue may not be forming the LLC, but how you get paid. If the LLC pays you wages, the judgment creditor *may* be able to garnish the wages. NACBA.org is a good place to start your search for a good debtors’ attorney. Good luck!

  67. I filed for bankruptcy with an attorney but I did not pay the full amount for his services prior to filing. He has sent me a summons for services but he did not put in the summons that it was for a bankruptcy. Can a attorney sue me for funds owed prior to filing bankruptcy. Should I reply to the summon, informing him that base on MN law he can not sue me for services that was render before the bankruptcy was filed. Also wouldn’t a summons have a court file number?? and show up in the district court files?

    • That’s a thorny issue. In most cases, any fees due under a pre-filing contract are discharged along with all the other unsecured debts. Some attorneys will have you sign a post-filing contract to cover any extra legal services not included in the pre-filing contract. If attorneys in MN are allowed to do that, and you signed a post-filing contract, that debt was not discharged in your bankruptcy and you are still liable for it.

      Demanding payment on a discharged debt is a violation of the discharge injunction. If you never signed a post-filing contract, this debt was discharged, and the former attorney should know better than to try and collect on it. You might want to contact another bankruptcy attorney (check out NACBA.org for someone in your area) to learn about your options.

      • thanks a lot this was very helpful!!!

        • Thanks for reading. Good luck!

  68. A few years back I was taken to small claims court and sued for broken lease charges. I settled with the company and signed a paper and now it appears as a public record. How can I get that information,? The second part of my question is that I was making the agreed monthly payments and then the company filed bankruptcy and closed. I continued to send a couple of payments to the Po box listed but stopped once I stopped receiving receipts. This has been a few years now. The landlords numbers are all disconnected and I have no way of contacting him. My fear is that he will put a bank levy on my bank account. Also can he take me to small claims court again and try to sue me? Can I call the court and get info on the public record. What exactly shows up on the public record? “thanks in advabce

    • These are all state law specific questions. The answers will be different depending on where you live. A local attorney can give you advice and answers to those questions. NACBA.org is a great place to start your search.

  69. I am getting sued by an insurance company. They have pictures of my car parked up against an Aston Martin in a parking garage. I didn’t have insurance but I don’t think I hit their car, however the pictures look like my car is the one at fault.

    Is there a way to prove I didn’t hit the car? This happened 2 years ago. I think my friend may have been driving my truck that night, however he said he didn’t hit a car.

    I don’t have any money, or a job, however I do own a few boats. Can they take my boats if they win and I can’t pay? This is in California.

    • This is a question for a California attorney. In general, if the insurance company gets a judgment, it can try to collect on the judgment by any means allowed by state law. This might include wage garnishments or executions against personal property like boats. It all depends on what California law allows and what exemptions are available to you.

      If you don’t defend the law suit, the insurance company will likely get a default judgment. If you want to defend, you should contact a local attorney as soon as possible. NACBA.org is a good place to start your search.

  70. Hello I have a question I was being sued by a cash store I settled with their attorney and set up payment plan I made my first payment in march I missed my one for April can they throw my in jail it not that I don’t want to pay money just tight as were living off my husband income and I’m waiting to be released back to work after having a baby and surgery what’s the worse they can do jail take it from my taxes the case is closed can they reopen it

    • If you default, the creditor can either have judgment entered against you or commence a new law suit. It all depends on what your settlement agreement said. But jail is for criminal cases, not civil. If you want to resolve the matter, you should speak to a local attorney. He/she can help you decide if your best move is to settle, defend, file bankruptcy, or do nothing.

  71. Hello I have a quick question, so I’m being sued for withholding payment for a new years party I attended with my family. I asked my credit card company to not pay them because of the experience we had and since the credit card company won and did not pay, they are now suing me in small claims court. In short, there was several issues with the event, and their advertisement for the event was inaccurate and the event host made a defamatory statement about my father in front of 1000 other individuals, in the suit they claim we attended and enjoyed the celebration but on the contrary we did not and we did not touch anything on the table that was provided by them (meals). I guess my question is what law governs in this case so I could do some research and see if I can find an applicable case.

    • It would probably be the law of the state in which the events took place.

  72. I have been out of work for 8 months now. I have been daily searching for work and still no luck. A week ago I was served with citation papers from a marshall at home for a credit card balance with Capital one I owe. I have told them I lost my job and have been been able to make payments. They still went forth with this suit. I cannot afford bankruptcy to file and I really just do not know what to do. The balance is for 2,524,00. I have tried to call them to pay possibly 10 dollars a month but they want more and that wont stop judgement. I still have no filed an answer to the citation. What should I do now?

    • I would contact a local bankruptcy attorney. Depending on your household income, you may be collection proof.

      • I am collection proof I would say… I do not own nothing. Nothing is in my name. I have no income what so ever and no assets period. My parents are going to help me pay for bankruptcy. I just received a letter for the company trying to sue me. They want me sign the paper they sent so that I do not have to appear in court. I never did fill out an answer at the court house. With filing bankrupt should I still fill out the paper so I do not have to appear in court?

        • That’s a question for your attorney. If you need help finding one locally, here’s a good place to start: NACBA.org

          Good luck!

  73. Hi my mother was just recently taken to court for a medical judgement that she thought was cleared with the community care program. She later was told the bill was not included and this was for another bill.She was not able to make the court date because no one was able to cover her shift. She cannot afford the amount they are asking her pay. Is she able to make another court date? or can the collection agency lower the monthly payment…after all she received community care assistance because she couldn’t afford to pay the medical debt. She does not have a problem making the payment she just needs a payment she can afford.

    • You need to speak with a local attorney. The creditor likely got a default judgment and is free to collect in any way state law allows. Whether the collection agency has authority to accept a lower payment depends on whether it bought the debt or is merely acting as an agent for the original creditor. Anything is negotiable; you just need to find the person with authority to negotiate. Good luck!

  74. What if I am collection proof? what is the worse to happen on a filed judgement against me and I have no job and no assets what so ever?

    • If you are collection proof, the creditor can get a judgment against you but can’t take anything from you. State law varies, so you should see a local attorney to see what assets you can protect under your state’s exemption laws.

  75. Hi my boyfriend was sued for a car accident he was in Virginia in dec of 2012 for 15,000. He was charged with a misdemeanor first in criminal court and had to go to jail for 30 days(15 suspended). then he was taken to civil court a year later and was sued. he has not made a single payment and due to the “injuries” that the person he hit received (it was a rental car he hit btw) the collections agency suspended his license. My biggest concern & question is will this ever go away if he doesn’t pay ? I saw somewhere on the internet that sometimes after a certain period of time if you don’t pay it expires or something. Im sure every situation is different and would like to know your input if possible…thanks 🙂

    • It depends. Every state has its own collection statute of limitations. If he has a judgment against him, the judgment may (depending on state law) be renewed if the plaintiff believes he/she can collect.

      I would talk to a local lawyer. Depending on whether restitution was ordered or if your boyfriend was OWI, bankruptcy might help.

  76. i been sued by a credit card which i had over 10 years ago. Should i take an attorney with me to court or call the credit card company and start a payment plan with them? Can i give on a payment plan after i have been sued?

    • I’d recommend contacting a local attorney. He/she can advise whether the statute of limitations has already run for collections on that card. A good place to find an attorney is NACBA.org. Good luck!

      • My amount is 1,600 that I only. My paperwork does not give me a court date. All the paper work said is that I have up to 14 days to respond to the matter. does this mean I can call the court are the debt collection agency? what would happen if I do not respond to this mattew? Thank you or your time.

        • Your attorney can explain all of that. If you don’t file an answer within 14 days, the creditor will get a default judgment and can start collection activities. Depending on where you live, those can include executing on non-exempt assets, wage garnishments, or bank levies.

  77. My bank want me get attorney. I filed my lawyer for bankruptcy. I sue my ex boyfriend for auto loan. Am a primary borrower and he is a co borrower. He took my car and he hide the vehicle for three month. I don’t pay car note without vehicle. My ex boyfriend will never bring my car and he will never pay car note. My bank reach contact him, but he don’t answer he don’t want contact with bank. Will he go to jail? If he don’t want bring me car or he won’t pay car note

    • You should speak with a local attorney (NACBA.org) to get legal advice specific to your situation. This website only provides general information.

      That said, in most states, if both of you are liable on the note, the bank can demand payment from either of you and/or repossess the vehicle. But this is a question of state law, and only an attorney licensed in your state can give reliable legal advice.

  78. Hi, I know you said you are in Wisconsin but I have a question. My dad is being sued for a loan. He told the person he was going to pay him on november 10th, things took a turn for the worst and was ordered by doctors that he could no longer work due to his excessive liver problems. Which has caused him to file for disability. Now he was loaned $15,000.00 and he is paying off $8,000.00 but currently he does not have the other 7.. my dad owned a business and now i am the new owner of the business and all valued property now belongs to me. So my question is, since he has made the contract with my dad, can they come and take the property that is now in my name? My dad is thinking of filing for bankruptcy since he keeps on getting harrassed and being told that they are going to take him to court and have him put in jail ? please help!! Thank you in advance

    • That’s a question of state law. You’d need to get advice from someone local. NACBA.org is a good place to start.

      If your dad transferred collateral, the creditor may still have a claim on it. You have competing interests, so you should each get your own lawyer to avoid a conflict.

      The calls threatening jail for defaulting on a loan are usually scams. If it is a valid debt, the creditor can sue, but cannot send someone to jail (unless the debtor committed fraud, which is rare and very tough to prove.)

  79. My ex-fiancé is suing me for talking advantage of an elder, gifts, money, and a car he bought and titled in my name only. He wants it all. I left my job to be with him per his request, gave up my apartment, and my dog of 11 years per his request, because of wanted to travel and the dog would be in the way. Anyway, we had a argument that when bad, and within 1 week I was trying to move out and find a place to go. He is on the war path now. He has lots of money and time. I have nothing. He is out for the pure pleasure of watching me suffer. He has made a claim to my son if he could not have me no one will. He told me if I went back to work the engagement was off. He also told me that he was going to add up all the money, gifts, a vacation we took, etc.. And send me a 1099 year end claiming I was an employee so I could apply for Obama Care. All of which hurt me so badly, I was not his employee, but his fiancé. He just didn’t want to provide me with health insurance as he agreed if I left my job. Now he is suing me for everything, I have no money, and no job. I don’t know what to do. I gave him back the engagement ring and a bracelet he bought me on Valentines day. I sold my old car, and he really wanted me to have a nicer car. He bought me a 2006 Nissan. Titled in my name, no lien… What can I do court is coming up and I feel helpless…

    • You need to find a local family law attorney. Your state bar association should have resources to help you find someone local who specializes in family law. Alternatively, you could look in your local phone book for attorneys who practice family law. A quick Google search for “(local city) family law attorney” would also help get you started. Good luck.

  80. Hi i pleded guilty to a lesser charge ..Now my the defendent and new lawyer demanded an answer i filled an extention need an atorney will i have to pay

    • If you pleaded guilty, you were in criminal court. This post is only referring to being sued in civil court. You should contact a local criminal defense attorney.

  81. I left Georgia, in 2008 when my farther passed away, to another country to look after my family. I did have credit card debt. I will be returning for a two week trip to Washington. Should I have apprehensions of getting arrested for that at the airport in Washington.

    • I doubt it. If you still owe the money, the creditors can sue, but they can’t have you arrested.

  82. So my ex is trying to sue me but I haven’t been served. The date for court was 11/10 and they changed it to 11/24. But I still haven’t been served so I don’t know what he wrote and is suing me for. My question is do I show up to this court date and ask for an extension so I can get a lawyer? Or if I don’t show up will they put in a default judgement for him. This is in wisconsin. And I don’t have the newspaper but I checked the online newspaper and nothing was published there. The only reason I knew about it was cause my ex called me today and left a voice mail saying that I should check ccap and that he can personally serve me the papers so I shouldn’t try to avoid it.

    • Since you know about the suit, I would show up and explain that you just found out because you weren’t served. Ask for time to find an attorney. A default judgment might be set aside for lack of proper service, but it’s usually easier to avoid the default than to fix it.

  83. I was recently involved in a car accident that was my fault with no auto insurance and I am currently in chapter 13 bankruptcy. I just recently filed for bankruptcy before the accident and did not know my auto insurance had lapsed since it was set for auto pay and my bank acct was overdrawn. My question is, after the judgement for me to pay for the damages which is 4500 that I don’t have, will this be added to me list of creditors or will they be able to garnish my wages?

    • If the debt was incurred after your bankruptcy was filed, the discharge will not apply to that debt. But your wages may still be part of the bankruptcy estate, so the creditor may not be able to garnish your wages until your bankruptcy case is over. Check with your bankruptcy attorney to see if you can convert to a Chapter 7 or dismiss your Chapter 13 and refile to include this debt.

  84. Hi Bret. My situation is pretty unique. My problem is that I have an old landlord getting ready to garnish my wages. Court date is set for January 5th, 2015. I currently have pending injury lawsuit from a care accident. I also am expecting a good tax return this February. I know that if I file bankruptcy soon I will get rid of the garnishment, however my tax return and settlement will be at jeopardy. We are planning on moving to Texas in the summer 2015, so we’re relying on those funds so we can move. Is there any way (in your professional opinion) that I can protect my tax returns AND settlement? I know different states have different laws. I’m in Illinois. Any advice or tips that will help me put together a game plan would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • I’m not licensed to practice law in Illinois. But your first step is to talk to a local bankruptcy attorney. NACBA.org is a good place to start.

      Your attorney can work with you and your personal injury lawyer to see what assets would be at risk in a bankruptcy. Depending on what exemptions are available in Illinois, you may be able to protect all of your assets. If not, your attorney may be able to settle with the former landlord for less than the full balance owed. Good luck!

  85. Hello, I received a judgement against me about 3 years ago for the remainder on a car that was repoed after their auction. I paid on it a little but lost my job and just forgot about it for the last two years. I am now trying to repair my credit and so I called the bank that had the judgement against me to ask about restarting payments. They told me they dont deal with those collections in house anymore and sent my account to another company. Now I contacted the company who has this account and they said they will not do payments its all or nothing. So my question is does this company need to get a new jedgement to garnish my wages or can they garnish my wages off the judgement the bank got 3 years ago? Any information you can give me would help so much. Thank you.

    • You need to speak to a local attorney. Nacba.org is a good place to start. In general, once a creditor has a judgment, the creditor can try to collect on it. If the original creditor sold its judgment to a debt buyer, you might be able to defend against any garnishment. But the right to collect on a judgment would typically go with the sale.

  86. Hi I’m being sued by this complex I use to live in and I live in NY can I go to jail if I don’t pay I’m not working right now please help me understand

    • You need to talk to a local attorney. In general, breaking a lease is not criminal, so the most the landlord can do is sue and get a judgment. But a local attorney can give you advice specific to your situation. NACBA.org is a good place to start.

  87. Hello, I was involved in a car accident in fl where the other parties had significant injuries totaling over my policy limits of 100,000/300,000. I received papers requiring me to attend a deposition where I was to reveal my financial assets to determine if it was worth suing me as an individual or accepting the 100,000 from my ins co. (Is that correct?) I have no assets, am in serious debt and owe many creditors. However, my husband and I do currently have a multi million dollar negligence lawsuit currently in litigation from an incident in 2011.We are no where near settling or possibly going to trial on that issue. The attorney who was asking me questions about my current financial situation quizzed me on our current lawsuit, mainly asking where we were at in the process. I gave no specific number that we were suing for and provided little details. To my surprise, weeks later, I received a letter stating that one of the two involved had turned down my insurance companies offer of $100,000 and had 3 years to file a lawsuit against me. What does that mean? That they are banking on getting more than $100,000 from me at some point? That’s a pretty big gamble since we are not guaranteed to even win our current lawsuit. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?

    • That’s a question for your attorney. This post is about the process of getting sued for defaulting on a debt, usually in small claims court. Your question is about possibly being sued for a traffic accident in which you caused injury.

      But keep in mind that the negligence lawsuit is an asset. It may be contingent and unliquidated, but it is an asset. It sounds to me as if one of the plaintiffs thinks he/she can get more by suing you than by accepting the offer from your insurance company. But for legal advice specific to your situation, you need to speak with a local attorney, preferably the one you’re working with on the negligence lawsuit. If your attorney can’t help you protect your assets, he/she can recommend someone who can. Good luck.

  88. An ex is suing me for a debt I owed. We had a verbal agreement that I would pay her back for bills, rent, etc. I paid her $14,000 over the coarse of a few years and gave her a year notice that the payments were ending once the $14,000 was paid. She is now suing me for interest and meals that she paid for on her credit card. I never verbally agreed to pay for those specific things and feel that I have paid back the debt. Does she have a legitimate case? Was I wrong to acknowledge the debt? Any help would be appreciated.

    • I don’t give legal advice on this blog, only general information. If you want legal advice for a specific situation, you need to speak with a local attorney.

      Verbal contracts are sometimes valid. Since she sued you, she’ll have to prove in court that you are liable. If you don’t answer the complaint, she will most likely get a default judgment. Your attorney can advise whether and when to file an answer. Good luck.

  89. I am being threatened for a law suit. I was a volunteer coach for a local high school sports team, who entered an off season travel league. This team had to pay a fee to join the league. As the coach, I handled the money the kids were giving and gave it to the person who runs the league. During the course of this, several players decided not to play, so the team was short 900 dollars. The man running the league, every week, increased the amount of the debt, until it reached about 2000 dollars. He is now threatening to sue me for 2000 dollars, despite my never signing any contract. I told him, initially the situation, and that I would try to get the players to pay but these kids never showed up and never paid after agreeing to play. Am I liable for this? Should I seek an attorney? I have the emails from the guy raising the debt each email (from 900, to 1250, and so on.) I make only 8 thousand a year in stipends from coaching, and am on food stamps/section 8 housing. My credit is absolutely destroyed already. The person in question has been harassing me on facebook, via the phone, and via text message, threatening to send out an email to every coach on his list that I steal money, and that he is going to sue me for a number of things. I have records (text and voicemail) of this person making these threats. Any information is welcome. Thank you for your time.

    • I don’t give legal advice for specific situations on this blog. (My insurance carrier would be unhappy if I did.)

      You should speak to a local attorney. He or she will be able to tell you if you need to defend a potential lawsuit or if you have counter-claims against this other person. Good luck.

  90. Hi Bret!
    Imagine my surprise when I checked my bank account balance this morning to see that a hold had been put on $1300! The bank gave me the case number and agency name of those suing and I looked it up. After reviewing all the papers filed for the case (there were only 5) I know that it is from a debt from 4 years ago that was transferred from a few unpaid tickets that got sent to a debt collector. Long story short, I WAS NEVER served any documentation (summons/complaint) and there is no declaration of service or proof of summons or the like in the 5 online court documents (only documents relating to writ of garnishment, affidavit to my bank, etc). Is this legal?? There is no indication they ever even tried to get in touch with me. Any general information would be greatly appreciated. I have contacted an attorney and am awaiting a call back on Monday. I do understand I have 10 days to respond to the bank levy.

    • It depends on where you live. Some states allow judgment creditors to levy on bank accounts as soon as judgment is granted. You may have a claim of exemption to those funds, again, depending on where you live. If the creditor has a judgment, it would have had to show proof of notice of the original suit. Any notice after judgment is a question of state law. Good luck!

  91. I have a judgment against me from Discover, and I’ve been ordered to appear in court later this week to give an answer as to assets to Discover’s attorneys. I filed a pro se bankruptcy petition for Chapter 7 at the end of last month. Is it typical for this type of court order to proceed after a bankruptcy filing and automatic stay, or should I expect it to be rescinded? Is there anything I might be able to do to get it rescinded? I don’t have legal representation as I can’t afford an attorney. It’s not that I’m worried about the outcome — I spoke with a local Legal Aid attorney when I first found out I was being sued, and he advised me that I’m collection proof. But frankly, we’re hard up enough at the moment that even buying the paper necessary to print off all of the financial documents they’ve requested, not to mention spending gas money to drive all the way down town and pay for parking, and having to take time off from my freelance work and miss out on already meager income all constitutes a hardship.

    I’m also concerned that we’re going to go to all that trouble and expense only to get there and discover that the court appearance has been called off. The only contact info on the court order is for Discover’s attorney. Should I call them to find out whether they’re proceeding with this action in light of my bankruptcy filing?

    I’m not asking for advice so much as wondering what’s typical in this type of situation.

    • So far as the state court suit goes, “what’s typical” all depends on where you live.

      If Discover & its attorney were given notice of your bankruptcy and the automatic stay was in place, continuing to try and collect the debt would be a stay violation. I don’t know if the stay was in place in your case, but it wouldn’t hurt to call the attorney to remind him/her of the bankruptcy filing. Keep in mind, I’m not your attorney and am not giving legal advice.

      This is another example of things that can go wrong in a pro se bankruptcy. Had I filed this case, both Discover and its attorney would have gotten notice. I would also have written a letter to both the attorney and the state court upon filing of the bankruptcy to remind them that the state court suit was stayed and that my client would not appear. If the creditor proceeded anyway, I would have sued in bankruptcy court for a willful violation of the automatic stay.

      • Thanks for your reply. I don’t believe the stay was already in place when they obtained the court order; I think there was some cross-over, where they got the order around the time I was filing my petition.

        At any rate, FYI and for anyone in a similar predicament, I bit the bullet and called the collection attorney’s office and was told that they received the bankruptcy notice and closed my case, and that I don’t need to appear before the judge. So that’s a load off.

  92. Can one use a lawyer in small claims court even if there is no jury trial?

    • I don’t believe it’s common to have jury trials in small claims court in any state. Either way, Wisconsin does allow the defendant in small claims court to be represented by an attorney.

  93. Hello, about a year ago in 2014 a received a letter saying that i am being sued by capital one bank (USA) n.a. I called the bank so they could verify my information because i know it is not me. I have never had a credit card or bank account with them, i did not even know this bank existed. I also called capital one banks lawyer so they could verify my information, again they said they could not give me anything unless i gave them my information so they could verify it. Months passed and i did not receive anything from them relating to the case. About a week ago May 2015 I received a summons and garnishment order, i signed and requested a hearing saying i do not owe this money, i hired a lawyer. he called me today and said that there is nothing that can be done pretty much my only option is to declare bankruptcy. Is he correct, i just hope there is something i can do instead of declaring bankrupt. please help.

    • If you don’t trust your lawyer’s advice, you should get a second opinion from someone local. In general, once a judgment has been entered, it’s final, unless you have some argument that the judge made a mistake.

      If you don’t want to get a second opinion, ask your attorney what your other options are. You may be able settle for a lower amount, or simply let the garnishment run. There are always options. Explain to your lawyer why you don’t want to file bankruptcy. He should be able to clear up any misunderstandings you have about bankruptcy. Good luck.

  94. Hello, I just got served a summons and complaint for the first time and I’m only 22. It says I have to pay a monthly bill at a certain date, but it says I was suppose to get this file a little less than a month and the bill was due 5 days ago and I just got it. Will this get me in trouble?

    • I don’t know. You need to talk to a local attorney for advice specific to your situation. Nacba is a good place to start. Your lawyer can tell you what other options are available to you, whether you are collection-proof, or if the lawsuit is worth defending. Good luck.

  95. Before my divorce was final I signed a separation agreement with my ex. Long story short it requires him to pay me $300 a month for seven months and to reimburse me moving cost that total about $2,000. In return I was to give him my wedding ring worth $1,000. Basically he owes me $4,100 and I owe him $1,000. I live in Texas and he lives in Virginia. Last week I got slammed with papers requesting me to be in court this Friday because I didn’t hold up to my side of the deal and that he had met all of his sides. I have no problem giving him the ring if he gives me what he signed and agreed to as well. He has the funds to get a lawyer and fight this when he knows I do not. I cannot financially afford to get a lawyer or fly to Virginia by Friday of this week. What happens if I don’t show in court or what are my options to get this taken care of. Again, I have no problem completing my side of the agreement but he needs to complete his side as well. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • I don’t give legal advice online, and I’m not licensed to practice law outside of Wisconsin.

      But as a general matter, what happens if you don’t show up for the hearing will be determined by Virginia law. You should contact your Virginia divorce attorney to learn the specifics. If you were sued in the Virginia equivalent of Wisconsin’s small claims court, your ex would get a default judgment and then docket that judgment in Texas. He would then try and collect on that judgment through whatever means are allowed in Texas.

  96. I PAY A LAW GROUP TO FILL OUT CHAPTER 7 OR 13, SHE SAY THAT WE NO QUALIFY FOR THAT. THEM SHE TOLD ME THAT SHE CAN CALL THE COMPANIES AND MAKE A DEAL WITH THEM TO PAY HALF OFF THE MONEY. I SAY OKAY SOUND GREAT IS BEEN ABOUT 10 MONTHS AND SHE STILL DONT DO NOTHING. NOW I ASK FOR MY MONEY BACK SHE SAY THAT SHE OUT TU MUCH WORK ON IT LIKE 2 HOURS LOL ON 10 MONTH. MY QUESTION SHE\’S SAYING NO MONEY BACK BUT SHES NOT DOING ANY WORK FOR MY ANY MORE. SO I EMAIL HER TODAY AND ASK FOR THE MONEY BACK AN SHE SAY THIS “Mrs and mrs campos I have emailed you and spoke with you several times. We cannot refund the fees because all of the work has been done. You are now not eligible for a chapter 7 and chapter 13 makes no sense because you would have a 100% plan. You already said you wanted us to settle your claims but we cannot do this until you have the money to settle from your lawsuit. We are not charging you an initial down payment to do this. We are putting your chapter 7 fees toward this. We will only charge a percentage of the savings we are able to get for you” THERE IS ANYTHING I CAN DO THO GET THE MONEY BACK? THANK YOU.

    • It sounds like your lawyer is saying that she earned the fees that you paid. If you disagree, you could complain to your state bar association. They will investigate your complaint and report back.

  97. My husband was in the process of being sued by a ex gf . The original court order was for 2450 which turned into a garnishment we have actually paid 2597 now she is trying to get an extra 300 which she just recently sent in for , now the incident happened in 2009 judgment was order in 2012 now it’s 2015 and she is trying to get extra $397 . Can she legally do that ?

    • It depends on state law. You should contact a local lawyer with experience in debt issues. A good place to start is NACBA. Good luck!

  98. I was a PhD student and I think a Chinese PhD student in the same program is planning on suing me. I had my 400-page private diary on a cloud and I think it was read by a third party. I said a lot about the Chinese woman in my journal, that she was using me, not really a friend, etc. and she will probably claim she was just concerned about me, wanting to be my friend, etc. She can sue for slander and defamation. What should I do?

    I was extremely careful about shutting down the department computer after I used it each time and I don’t know how the third party got into my password-protected cloud to read my journal.

    Everyone says I’m crazy to be worried but the Chinese student keeps contacting me about whether or not I am coming back to school so she can prove we are friends/that she did not use me, etc.

    I have no money but have a $27,500 car and a $11,500 flute. I don’t work and am on disability. I may inherit some money when my mom dies, probably in several years.

    Please help.

    • If someone actually sues you, you need to talk to a local attorney. A good place to start is NACBA. Good luck!

  99. In getting sued for doctor bills from when my kids were sick is not that I don’t wanna pay cause i do I just can’t afford it I’m a single mom of two I’m willing to make payments but don’t have time to go to court can I call and see if I can pay each week a certain amount or do they want it in full I just don’t want a warrant out or end up in jail

    • It’s unlikely you would go to jail for simply being unable to pay a debt. If they sue and get a judgment, they might garnish your wages (depending on where you live), but defaulting on a debt is not a criminal matter.

      You should talk to a local attorney to get advice specific to your situation. Every case is different, and no one solution is the best for every client. Nacba.org is a good place to start.

  100. I live in MD and I have 2 lawsuits against me for a total of 10,000. I want to pay them but I can’t because I just dont have the money as a single mom. What would your suggestion be to handle these lawsuits? Should I file for bankrupcy? Should I make payments? Should I pay it all off with my taxes even if I can’t really afford to do so? So lost! please help!

    • My first advice is to not take legal advice from a stranger over the internet. 🙂

      Talk with a local bankruptcy attorney. He/she will be able to listen to your story and give you options that will work for you in your individual situation. Bankruptcy is one option, but there may also be state-specific options that I don’t know about. A good place to start your attorney search is nacba.org. Good luck!

  101. Hi there! An agreement over Facebook was made to pay for wedding photos for 1,200 (I paid that in full) (which she claimed she gave me a discount rate) and then I would pay 500 for a newborn photo session because of the discount on the wedding photography. No written contract was signed, but there are messages on Facebook stating I would pay the newborn session part by the end of September. Days went on and when I asked her about my USB drive and why it didn’t print pictures from anywhere like she said, she gave me rude comments back putting me down, being a bully about my questioning of the brokenUSB, etc. I then realized I didn’t want to work with her and because I didn’t have a written contract, but a Facebook messenger agreement, I decided to just ignore her. She then started leaving threatening messages over Facebook and text message saying she was going to come to my house, take me to court and have a judgment on me from the judge. What does that mean? And will she be able to sue over Facebook messages?

    • It depends on where you live. In general, if the other party wanted to sue you, she would file a complaint in small claims court in the county where you live. If you answered the complaint and denied the allegations, a trial/hearing would be set. The judge (most small claims cases don’t have a jury) will hear the evidence and make a decision. If you win, you don’t owe anything. If you lose, the plaintiff will have the right to try to collect on the judgment.

  102. Hello! The HOA in my neighborhood sued my for having a business – taking care of 3 seniors in my house. The Judge award them and said – the conclusion- that I am not allowed to have a business in my house. I have 30 days to appeal. What I am going to do? I have 2 teenagers to take care of, and I cannot just shut down the business tomorrow. These seniors got attached to me and it is no way to either put them in the street or send them home. I need 6 months- at least 3 months to find a rent and to get the license and remove them in the new house. How much time I have if I appeal? How much time I have if I not appeal? Please help!!!!

    • I’m sorry, I don’t give legal advice for any specific situation online. I only give general information on this website. In your case, you should contact a local attorney who has experience dealing with HOA covenants. Good luck.

  103. I live in Alabama. My boyfriend and i recently broke up. He had been paying my bills for approx. 3 months. I lost my job and when i said “i have to get a job” he said “no, i make enough money to take care of your bills.” Now, we have split and he says he is going to sue me “for everything i own.” He had a traumatic brain injury back in 2004, but he said he was fine from that, even tho he draws a disability check. He is very smart and quick witted. But he now claims “he has limited thinking” which is why he says he is suing me. Says I “took advantage” of him. I didnt. He is no more “limited” in his thinking than anyone else. He was trying to control me in every aspect of my life, very subtly. When that didnt work out like he wanted, (we broke up) , now he wants to sue… what should i do.

    • If he actually sues, you should contact a local attorney to defend you. The Alabama State Bar should have a referral service to get you started. Good luck!

  104. Hi,
    I was sued by my sister in 2009, my question is: in Michigan, is there a time frame, in which, that I am no long liable to pay her? Thank-you for your input

    • There probably is a statute of limitations relating to collecting on judgments in Michigan, but I don’t know what it is. A local attorney should be able to help.

  105. I was served a summons last night and the paper says to respond within 20 days .. I live in Bowling Green, Kentucky … 2 summons , 1 for ems , the other for unpaid Dr. Bills .. I have been a wreck all night and all day which is not doing my health any good at the moment. . The bills had all went to a creditor and I’m guessing that’s whos after money .. So all this is , is to get a judgment against me ? If i had money i wouldn’t be in this hard spot so would it be wise for me to file chapter 13. . I have nothing they can take but really wouldn’t want to go to jail just because i get sick a lot … i would never survive in jail especially here .. these people here dont care about anything but money ..

    • I don’t give legal advice online, and I don’t know anything about Kentucky state law. However, I doubt that any state would throw you in jail for failure to pay a judgment.

      Your best move would be to speak to a local attorney. NACBA is a good place to start. Good luck!

  106. We hired a debt settlement company and are very satisfied with their services. We do not pay them until they get a settlement. We have reduced our debt by over $53000 in the last year and half. We do have about 70,000 left to go. We received a letter from an atty’s office not signed but stating that they are representing Capital one and want the debt paid. The debt was under my LLC. We turned it over to the debt settlement company to negotiate a settlement or payment arrangement. That was back in October. We provided some financial information but they keep wanting more details. It is now the end of Dec and they won’t look at payment arrangement until we give them everything. I looked them up online and there are several complaints on their practices. I do not trust them and asked for proof of their authority to collect the debt. But they will not provide. So we are deadlocked at this point. They have threatened a lawsuit during the last month if we do not provide. Do we have the right to ask for the authority to collect prior to paying them? Am I limited in my rights because the card was under a LLC? Thanks

    • If you’re happy with the debt settlement service, you should talk to them. Otherwise, a local attorney can give you legal advice. I only provide general information on this site, and do not give legal advice for specific situations.

      In general, yes, consumers can demand that debt collectors verify the debt. The debt collector might sue, but then they’d have to prove their case, including the amount of the debt.

  107. Hello, I live in Wisconsin but Not sure if you can answer my question, I have not been served in my family court case, but noticed on Wisconsin CCAP there is a court date for tomorrow. Also, my ex sent me a letter telling me it is in my best interest that I show up in court tomorrow. However he did ask for an adjournment and the judge wants to have it on the calendar. Do I show up? I’m afraid he will get rights but he is incarcerated

    • If you’re worried about the outcome of any hearing, you (or your attorney) should attend. If the judge denied the motion to adjourn, the trip to court might be a waste of time, but it’s up to you to decide if that’s a risk you want to take. Your family law lawyer would be the best source of information about your specific case. If you don’t have one, the State Bar of Wisconsin has a referral service. Good luck!

  108. Hello,

    I had a personal business deal go south and at the time I was also in talks to be co-founder of a starup, but because of this business deal that ended in a cancelled order and her lawyer emailing me to pay back $5,000.
    After much debate she wouldnt agree on a fair payment term and I went into a financial tailspin.

    So basically a year has gone by with no contact as I last told them that I am homeless living on friends couches and also I have no recurring income/ job and my phone has been since shut off.

    I fortunatly have a girlfiend who paid for me to come out to France and travel with her all around for the last 6mo.

    So today I get an email saying they want to be paid now or they will pursue legal action in illinois(where her business is located) against my self and my “partners”.

    Do they have any legal ground if I signed this deal as me and I dont actually own any equity in this company?

    Can I really be summoned to court if I have no address and I am also not in the united states anymore?

    Thanks for the help.

    • I don’t give legal advice on this webpage. If you want advice specific to your situation, you need to contact a local attorney or an attorney located in the jurisdiction where the lawsuit may be filed.

      In general, if someone owes a debt, they can be sued in the state where they incurred it, regardless of where they currently live. If the person can’t be located for personal service, the plaintiff *may* be allowed to serve by publication and take a default judgment.

  109. A old friend of our sent us a check of $28,000 for the solo purpose it would be use to buy a house. He sent a cashier check. My ex convince him into only sending the check in his name. Once the check came my ex took it all n disappeared. When the friend who sebt us the check found out he wrote me a letter stating the reason why the check was mail n that it was for all of us not just for my ex. My question is can i sue my ex n take the letter to court

    • You need to talk to a local attorney for information specific to your situation.

      In general, letters are hearsay and not admissible evidence. If the friend testified in person, he could say that the check was intended for the two of you. But the defense lawyer will likely ask why the check was written to your ex only, if it was intended for both of you. Your attorney can tell you if you have a winnable case.

  110. I have received a summons for a credit card debt that I don’t even remember using more than twice (I was trying to build credit go figure) about four years ago. I am being sued $600. now I am a homemaker, I have no property to my name at all and No money In bank account since I stopped working a year ago. Should I answer the summons? Also can they garnish from my husband even though his name is nowhere in the complaint or card. We have no joint bank account im just worried about him filing taxes jointly?

    • I don’t give legal advice on this website, just general information. For advice specific to your individual situation, you need to speak with a local attorney. Nacba.org is a good place to start.

      The answer will largely depend on where you live. If you are in a community property state or the credit card was used to provide necessaries for your family, your husband may be liable. Your lawyer may also offer to defend or settle the small claims suit, or tell you that you’re uncollectible and can ignore the complaint. Good luck!

  111. Ny grandma received a summons and order of garnishment letter. She was out of the country when the hearing happened. They ruled against her and approved the garnishment. However, she is 74 and retired last November. She is receiving ONLY social security and she gets so little that she also has medicaid and is on energy assistance. Can we send a letter asking them to cease attempts at collecting the debt, since they cannot garnish her social security?

    • This site only gives general information. You need to talk to a local attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

      In general, Social Security is exempt from garnishment. But if SS funds are put into a bank account and mixed with non-Social Security money, it typically loses its protection. In Wisconsin, those receiving government assistance are also usually collection-proof.

      But to answer your question, you can send any letter you like to a creditor. Whether it will have any effect is a question only your attorney can answer. Good luck!


    • Yes. Every criminal case and civil suit filed in the Wisconsin circuit courts are listed on CCAP.


    • No. Filed cases are reported on CCAP, not intentions.

  114. My son 13..he has a girlfriend. .she sent him nude pictures..my son asked her too she did..parents today saying want to sue my son instigated it broke off there relationshio..will this get bad shall I put titles in other people’s name..and what about loans on vehicles they get that too if I don’t have cash to pay..single working mom scared! Thank you for your time

    • I’m sorry, I don’t give legal advice online; I only give general information. You need to speak to a local attorney if you want advice specific to your situation. Your state bar association may have a referral service if you don’t know anyone local. Good luck!

  115. I being sued by an old friend that I borrowed $600 from and haven’t been able to pay back but I intend to. I’m going to fax in my anwer to courts admitting to it. I’m also currently in bankruptcy….I’m going to try to pay him back but it mostly likely won’t be in full, just payments. What’s the worst you think that they’ll do to me in the meantime. And this was after bankruptcy so not sure if I should let them know about the suit. Do you have any general info on this matter. Thanks

    • Those are questions best answered by your bankruptcy attorney. If you don’t have an attorney, you can find a local one at NACBA.org.

      Depending on the chapter you filed, your bankruptcy attorney may advise you to defend the suit, let the bankruptcy trustee know about it, pay the friend back, or let the friend know that he/she can’t collect. But talk to your attorney asap. The longer you let it hang out there, the more trouble it may be to resolve.


    • While I can tell you have empathy for your fellow citizens, I don’t think any of my clients are bottom-feeders. And I make sure all of my clients are well-informed about all of their options regarding debt.

      If you’re truly interested to learn what kind of person files for bankruptcy, read this post. Thanks for visiting.

    • Most people that file for bankruptcy don’t want to…they have to. People get laid off or they get in car accidents. Nearly everybody who comes to seem has a debt problem to because of circumstances beyond their control. It is often impossible to “man up and do the right thing”. Real life doesn’t work that way.

    • People find themselves unable to pay their bills for all kinds of reasons, many of them utterly beyond their control, like job loss, ill health, and divorce. The utility of humane bankruptcy laws has been recognized since the Constitution was adopted.

      The availability of bankruptcy and a fresh start represents a recognition that as a society we are better off to let people out of paying their legitimate debts through bankruptcy and its limitations than we are to have an underground economy of people hiding from their creditors.

      I hope that no unexpected financial set backs darken your door.

    • Bad things happen to good people. Yes, it is unfortunate that some people get in over their heads, it is not something they wanted to do.

      Please turn off the CAPS next time

  117. I invite you to read the following portion of the first communication I received from a prospective client. I encounter similar stories all the time; that’s a part of this work. But this email was so moving that I thought I should share it with others. So I asked for permission which was granted. Here it is.

    “I did tech support for a software product for 10 years, then quality assurance. I like helping people and am user friendly. Then one day my job went to India. In fact at the end of my illustrious career, I was laid off 4 times and lost all my savings and 401k just trying to survive. Since then I have been un-employed or under-employed. It looks like I will have to go down with my boots on. In 2003, finally homeless, I moved to [deleted] where my mother took me in. I switched hats and took up bookkeeping, which is needed here, or was, until the recession. I am now on Social Security, semi-retired, and having a hard time. I started a small business as a freelance bookkeeper when I turned 65, thinking I would finally be lay-off proof. What I didn’t see coming was the recession. Now my business is failing. I can’t pay my credit cards. I need to do a bankruptcy. I feel so ashamed. I was raised to pay my debts and to be honest.”

  118. Everyone has problems the ones with self controll do not get into a lot of these situations I myself was hurt in an accident and unable to work the most recent hardship is my wife getting hit from behind while sitting at a red light and ofcourse he has no insurance so we file small claims court are awarded 10k have not seen a dime I come across this in sea of answers as to find a way to collect and all I find are ways of getting out of paying. So now we are a household of 5 we are making monthly payments to hospitals physician’s ambulance radiology etc. So we are being punished for another’s actions that is exactly what most everyone on here is looking to do is have someone else suffer with loss because of there problems or the real smart ones that get credit so go buy all the things they have ever dreamed of owning. Never taking a second to think what if something happens can I really afford this well ofcourse I can this country allows us to file bankruptcy so I can recieve a get out of jail free card and in seven years when the other people may have bounced back from what you stole and let me cap that so all may see STOLE on top Lying by breaking the promise you made to repay what you borrowed or in my most recent case a lot of what people are trying to avoid CRIMINALS for not haveing auto insurance required by law. Anyone of you that can say any one of those things are not wrong to do is in itself a statement to the fact of how despicable you all are in stead of paying an attorney why not make small payments to the people that you affected or let them garnish if the law is allowing it then it is more than likely deserved. We live check to check like most everyone these days but we can hold our heads high because we do not stoop to running and hideing from our problems we due to no fault of our own called each company explained the situation and every single one has agreed to work with us some stating that’s it’s refreshing to know there are people who atleast try and some actually reduced there fees for the effort. All I ask is for people in this world to stick to there values and as the real man in charge states: In Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    • I’m very sorry for your troubles. Hopefully, your uninsured motorist coverage helped you cover your medical bills.

      It’s apparent from your post that you know very little about bankruptcy. There’s no “get out of jail free card,” because the U.S. got rid of debtors’ prisons in the 1800’s. And, again, read this post to correct your misconceptions about the people who file for bankruptcy. The vast majority are not irresponsible, just unlucky.

      Finally, if the Christian Bible is your standard, check out this post about the Bible and Bankruptcy. The Bible actually ordered creditors to forgive debts after seven years.

  119. And will you preach that philosophy to the person that lost what they were owed because of your greed to help them get out of debt and the person that they owed because you helped the person that owed them money and so on so you help them file bankruptcy so the prison they cheated files bankruptcy so the people they owed has to file bankruptcy all the while you make more and more money isn’t that a great position to be in while your telling these people it is ok to be unreliable and be a credit risk for 7 years minimum when everyone knows it’s atleast ten then you start building so try closer to 15 years tell the truth not just the parts that make you sound like a shepherd instead of the wolf in sheep’s skin that you really are. You don’t understand how well I know about your profession don’t assume you know things. There is no such thing as luck it’s all based on decisions another way for you to twist words to make your greed seem logical. You assume that I can afford uninsured motorist when I say that I have to make monthly payments to these people that made sure my family was taken care of health wise while being ass ulterior by one of the none caring individuals you convince your way is the right way. Apparently your attention to details isn’t a quality to miss that part and your educated enough to be a lawyer? I’m not that educated and I can see through your deceptive ways. Ofcourse you have grateful people you help them do the wrong thing without them haveing to face the people the take advantage of with your help. I hope you can find a passage in the book for what you do.

    • Again, I’m sorry about your troubles. I hope people treat you with more kindness than you’ve shown in this thread. You are woefully misinformed about me personally, the bankruptcy system, and my clients. I encourage you to get the facts before you announce your opinions about bankruptcy.

      Your comments haven’t been connected to the topic of this post. I’m unsure if you are a troll, or just an angry person. In either case, I won’t approve any more comments that are not related to the post on which you are commenting.

  120. Bret, what are the remedies for a debtor against a creditor who violates a Chapter 128 order by calling, postal mail, etc. once they are enjoined (and acknowledge) in a Chapter 128 proceeding? The law is somewhat more clear when it comes to receiverships and corporations in a Chapter 128, and given the time frame when this law was enacted it appears that’s who it was originally intended to protect. However, in recent years, more and more individuals have filed for Chapter 128 protection in lieu of bankruptcy, and I’m curious as to your interpretation on this. ~Scott

    • Great question. The section I work with is 128.21, which was enacted for wage earners. I’ve never had a creditor violate the injunction against collecting, so I haven’t looked into the remedies for violations. My first thought (completely un-researched) is that the remedies would lie in the court’s contempt powers. Thanks for reading!

  121. Hello Bret Nason, my girlfriend who is currently still legally married has filed for divorce a couple of years ago(I don’t know if that matters in this case). The Divorce has not finalized, but her husband currently has filed a small claims court case for unpaid credit card dept for 1,790. She never possessed one of the credit cards. She had possession of the USAA credit card, but who knows what debt he put on it. He has taken her off the account prior to this claim and we have she access to the financial statements to see what was bought. How does she go about filling a counter claim here in california and showing what she actually owes for?

    • I don’t have any idea what the procedures are in California. The best advice is to hire a local attorney to advise you. NACBA.org has an attorney finder that will help you find someone. It may be in your girlfriend’s best interest to answer, but not counterclaim. It also may be worth considering if she and her husband should file a joint bankruptcy before divorcing. All things your attorney will be able to answer. Good luck!

  122. Hi Bret,
    I was sued by an old friend for a $3,000.00 check that he had cashed for me at his bank since I don’t have a bank account. I received the check in the mail and thought it was my payment for doing different odd jobs/surveys online. But I was wrong. The check came back 12 Days Later as “altered or fictitious”. So before the court hearing, I signed an agreement with the plaintiff stating I would pay $50 every two weeks, or as willing. So at the court hearing the judge ordered that I have 10 years to pay back the $3,000 jet. But since then my son has gotten really sick so I had to quit my job to stay home and take care of my son. So I don’t have any way to make payments or anything to pay him back. So I’m wondering if I would go to jail for non-payment? I do not have a home or a car or any assets for him to be able to take. Would filing bankruptcy help?

    Thank you,
    Danielle H.

    • I don’t give legal advice online, just general information. For advice specific to your situation, you should talk to a local attorney.

      In Wisconsin, creditors can’t throw you in jail for non-payment of a debt. The most they can do is sue, get a judgment, and try to collect on that judgment. Bankruptcy can usually get rid of run-of-the-mill civil judgments. I don’t know where you live, but I haven’t heard of any jurisdictions where that general rule is not followed.

  123. A friend of mine loaned my now ex-wife and I money for a Down payment on a manufactured home. We both signed an agreement with her and were making payments. My wife and I divorced and at which time our friend sued my ex-wife for the total amount of the loan. My name did not appear on the lawsuit. Our friend won the suit and a judgement was granted to her stating my ex-wife owed her the entire amount. A lien was then placed on my home that was given to me in the divorce settlement. My question is…
    Can the friend now sue me for the amount owed. She has done nothing to get the monies owed from my ex-wife. She has continually told me I have to pay her and if I don’t she will sue me too. Is she able to do this?

    • For legal advice specific to your situation, speak to a local attorney.

      In general, if two people owe money jointly, the creditor can collect from each or them or either of them. As long as the creditor doesn’t collect more than is owed, it doesn’t matter if the two debtors pay the same percentage of the debt.

  124. I am being sued by my divorce attorney for 5,000. She claims we had a verbal agreement to pay her 5k. This was October 2011, the courts ordered my ex to pay my remaining fees she asked for, 19,850. I had paid out of my own pocket 13,000 prior. I never agreed or promised 5,000 as she states. After pretrial we have a court date set for next month. She is lying, what should I do? I do have a letter from her seeking 5,000 from my relocation hearing Feb 2012 that states we verbally agreed. Why would I agree to such when she was awarded by the judge 19850 for my ex to pay?

    • Most of my clients admit they owe the money; they just can’t pay it. If you’ve been sued and think you have a valid defense, you should hire an attorney to defend. NACBA is a good place to start. Good luck!

  125. i got served summons papers yesterday for fingerhut . saying i need to appear in court or something within 30 days to settle amount of $800.00 ..
    when the man came to my door he asked me to sign paper i did not but he left the paper on my door step. do i still go to court is there any thing you can say to point me in right direction.

    • It sounds like you got served with a small claims suit. In Wisconsin, if you ignore it, the creditor will get a default judgment and then try to collect on that judgment. I don’t know if that’s the same where you live. If you want to defend the lawsuit, or learn about your other options to deal with the debt, you should speak with a local attorney. NACBA is a great place to start. Good luck!

  126. I was involved in a car accident (vehicle under my moms name) and was at fault. My mom was not aware I took the car to pickup my daughter from her dads. Now the other party is suing my mom for $20,000, and I’m afraid they’ll go after her home which is all she has. Will she still be responsible for the amount owed even though she had no idea I took the car?

    • I don’t know. That’s a question for your mom’s attorney. I’m *guessing* that your mom’s insurance company will pay up to the limits on her policy, but her attorney will be able to give better information.

  127. Am owing 1000k and I have only today to pay but I didn’t make it are going to jail me?

    • Probably not. From the post above: “No matter what the debt collector tells you on the phone, you cannot be jailed for defaulting on a debt.”

  128. I got a loan for $1,200 in the beginning of March 2016 and i was only able to make one payment. After the missed payment they started harassing me and my family. They called my mom and told her I have a court date on December 2016. Is this right?

    • I don’t know if you have a court date or not. In Wisconsin, the creditor would have to serve you with a summons and complaint to start a lawsuit. This may just be an empty threat. If you do get sued, you should talk to a local attorney if you want to defend. NACBA.org is a good place to start.

  129. Hi I was leaving in a rental property, there was never a lease wrote i never signed a lease the owner kept telling me he will write one up but never did. Well aftet about 6 months living there he told me he no longer wanted me in the property i had 3 days to get my thungs out i left in may of 2014. I recently pulled my credit report and see he has to seperat judgments on there one for 700.00 another for 2200.00 fir the same property filed in 2015 and they were filed 7 months apart i never received a summons to go to court or anything can i countersue or do i need a lawyer. I would be countersuing because this is unlawful and unfair we never had a lease and why the 2 judgements on one prope8 7 months apart. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR ANY KEGAL ADVICE YOU MAY HAVE.

    • I don’t give legal advice on this website, only general information. If you want advice for your specific situation, you should contact a local attorney. Your attorney will find out if you actually have a judgment against you, whether you have a valid counterclaim, or whether the credit reporting is improper. NACBA.org is a good place to start.

  130. I am being sued in small claims court by a contractor in Wisconsin. My only income is Social Security Disability and I’m the designated payee for my children. I own no property or vehicle. All checks from social security are direct deposited. I’m aware he’s taking me to small claims because the contractor has told me. He DOES NOT have an address for me. Can he seize my/my kids Sicial Security? What happens since he has no address for me?

    • Social Security is completely exempt from collections. But once it gets commingled with other funds in a bank account, it can get tricky. It’s best to have Social Security funds deposited into a separate account, where no other funds are held.

      If the creditor has no address for you, he/she may serve you by publication in Wisconsin. But if you know you are being sued and you want to defend, you should speak to a local attorney asap. The Wisconsin State Bar has a good attorney directory. Good luck!

  131. Hello. I was sued on 07/01/16. I did not file answer to the complain. And now they have filed for REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT.
    I would still like to settle this debt with a repayment plan. But i have no source of income. I’m not working right now. I have no Bank account.
    I’m living at my Mom’s house at the moment. I don’t own a Car,or anything valuable.
    I was wondering if they can attach any of her property? Like Lien, Levy any of her property,her Social Security Income because of my debt? I live in California.
    Thank You..

    • I don’t know anything about California law, but I don’t know of any jurisdiction where someone’s assets are liable for a third party’s debts (with some exceptions, such as marital property.)

      But if you’re concerned, you should speak with a local attorney who is familiar with California law. Nacba.org is a great place to start. Good luck!

  132. my boyfriend is being sued by an ex-girlfriend who contributed $200 toward a $500 bail,where another individual contributed $300 but she retained the receipt for the entire 500 and is suing for the entire $500 because of that receipt. we have proof that he only owes her 200 of that 500 but he is currently incarcerated and by the court date he would have been free exactly a week. when and how do we submit our answer

    • Usually, the deadline to answer a complaint in Wisconsin is listed on the complaint. Your attorney can give you specifics, but the answer is filed with the court with a copy sent to the plaintiff. Good luck!

  133. Hello. I have been summoned to court from an apartment leasing company for a fee from 2012. So from 2010 to 2011 i did co sign on the lease. However in 2011 I never signed to extend the lease another year because things were getting rocky. However now i received this summon for $2,800 for her damaging the apartment in September of 2012 and not paying that month’s rent. Then on the summon papers I received i looked at the lease and that is 100% not my signature. I have always paid my bills on time, i have never received any notice from anyone about any debt owed until now. I reached out to the apartment complex to see if they can help clear some of this up and still have not heard back. What are some steps i can take in the meantime?? Any help what so ever would be greatly appreciated because i am shocked and just don’t know what to do right now. Thank you

    • I would contact a local attorney sooner rather than later. He/she will be able to analyze your situation and advise if it’s best to defend, settle, or default. But the longer you wait, some options may no longer be available to you. Good luck!

  134. Hello, my friend is suing me for fraud on a loan she did for me under her name. It’s been almost a year! The deal was, me to.give her $3000 and to pay for the whole loan. Well after the 3rd month she wasn’t paying the loan. We work together so she accuse me of solicitating at the job, not true but even like that I got fired!! And lost my unemployment case! After that I tried to.contact her thru messages social media, been block!! She had a attorney send me a letter for me.to not contact her no more only attorney, so I made a proposal to start making payments but attorney wanted all the money and never returned my emails or.nothing. Now 6 months later she sued me stating the loan of 15,000 is now 35,000 that I used her info without her knowing…not true cuz she gave me everything!!! Her paystubs, are thru adp only she knows password…plus all her info!!!! Copies of everything and I gave her the $3000 cash!! I have all the emails trying to contact them and their attorney. I am very scare!!! I have no warrants, already check. I have court on 27th (Dec) she wants a jury…I dont know..I have never being in trouble never!!! First time..what can I do!! I cant pay all that…and shes not even asking for money. She saying I commit fraud!! Not true!!! No legal advice but what are my chances??? Oh by the way, I was the one making the paymens of the loan cuz it was directly taken of her account. She was fine first mont, second month she wanted more money, and from there wverything went down the hill…heeelp

    • You’ll have to talk to a local attorney to get advice (even the chances of success) about your specific situation. If you haven’t hired an attorney yet, NACBA is a good place to start. Good luck!

  135. Hello, my husband was in a car accident 2 years ago next month. We had a really bad ice storm and he slide on the other side of the road hitting the guard rail. He was pinned by the guard rail and unable to move the car. A car came and hit him on the side. Now she is claiming she needed hip surgery and suffering of $500,000. I was not married to him at the time of the accident. Can she come after me now that I’m married. Any information would be helpful. Thanks so much

    • Probably not, but that might be dependent on where you live. Your husband’s attorney can tell you more, but it’s likely his insurance company will settle with the other driver.

  136. My boyfriend was just served papers today by the sheriff, he was in an ATV accident inwhich he wrecked into a minivan. This happened I think 5yrs ago & the minivan owners insurance company is suing him for $15,000. He has an option to get an attorney and has 3weeks to make a move (such as pay the money in full, etc) or he will be taken to court. He has a good paying job but doesn’t own anything, he rents and is making payments on things like his truck so nothing is in his name. He doesn’t have $15,000 to pay & can’t really do payments because the money he does makes all goes to bills & groceries alone so there’s really no extra cash left over. He doesn’t want to go to jail over this & doesn’t really know what to do. What do you recommend

    • I recommend he speak with a local attorney asap. He may have a defense to the lawsuit, and if he doesn’t raise it now, he may have his wages garnished. If he doesn’t have a defense, bankruptcy may be an option. You can find local attorneys at NACBA.org. Good luck!

  137. Hello, I was recently sued by a leasing company. The served me by ups first off and I took out the lease 3 or 4 years ago. They never contacted me by phone or mail about the remaining balance. I lose my job around the time but I bounced back and totally forgot about the company. I only owed $546 and they’re suing me for 1145 or something. I filed a motion to correct and the judge marked off grant then marked off denied. I’m already passed my 21 days. What could I do next? What motion should I file for? Or is it too late?

    • The best advice I can do is tell you to contact a local attorney. NACBA.org has a good attorney finder. If the person you contact can’t help, he/she will be able to tell you who can. Good luck!

  138. So I bought a car from a dealership and then ended up bankrupt, then I found out that the car isn’t legally registered to me ,I told the bank and they said it happen to others l, we’ll then the car got tooken and the previous owner who the car is Still registered to have to take it out , we’ll Im refusing payments because o don’t have the car and it will never be mine without the pink slip, now the banlnis suing me to non payment for the car and fact they can’t get the car back themselves l, what do i do

    • If you filed bankruptcy, you should contact your attorney and ask about this issue. It’s possible that the debt was discharged, but the lien remained on the car. If you filed bankruptcy without an attorney (never a good idea), go to NACBA.org and find someone local to give you legal advice. Good luck!

  139. Around 2010, my wife and I had our house repossessed, after failing to Make payments. This took place in Naples, Fl. In 2015, we were summoned By the court as, MGIC (Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Corporation) is suing Us for $100,000 because we defaulted on our loan. Since then we are divorced, I have moved to Colorado, and my ex-wife was notified last Thursday to be in Court this morning, as the suit is going forward. Here’s my question: can they come after me in Colorado? They will have to Serve me papers to appear in Naples? N to gonna happen. Also, how much personal stuff can I keep if they continue this casa and win? I am on social security, and make maybe another $14,000 from work. Do I Have to go off the grid to avoid having my bank account garnished? Oh, one last thing: when we appeared in court, we asked the frivolous lawsuit To be dropped. The 25 year old lawyer had NO paperwork, but the judge gave Her 30 more days to get her ducks in a row. Now, 21/2 years later they are coming After me. Am I safe in Colorado, or do I need to move to California, where they protect The average person best, by making it hard to obtain judgements. Sorry, lots Of questions. ANYTHING you can help me with I would appreciate, and I will pay The kind work forward. Thank you.

    • If you want legal advice for your specific situation, you need to speak to a local attorney. NACBA.org has a good directory.

      In general, a foreclosure case is filed in the county where the real estate is located, regardless of where the owners currently live. I don’t know if Florida foreclosures typically give deficiency judgments; in Wisconsin, deficiencies are rare. If a deficiency is entered against the owner, the creditor can pursue state remedies to collect. Since you live in Colorado, you’ll have Colorado exemptions available to you, to protect some assets.

      Speak with a local attorney to find out if you need to file bankruptcy, or if Colorado law protects your assets without the need for bankruptcy. Good luck!

  140. This is an excellent article and puts my mind at ease considerably! I’m just curious how it works if a creditor sues me, gets a default judgment, but I have no income or assets. I was just served papers yesterday for a credit card that I defaulted on. They’re suing me for $1,700ish. I’m a homemaker with no income of my own and no assets (I’m not on the mortgage or either car loan…they’re both in my husband’s name). If I ignore the lawsuit, they’ll win, and then what? You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, right? I’m just curious if they can go after my husband’s income or seize our tax refund. We do have a joint checking account, but my debt is my own…we have no other joint accounts. What’s the worst that could happen if I ignore this lawsuit?

    Forgot to add that I live in Georgia. I understand that you’re in Wisconsin and for all we know, the laws could be polar opposite. I have had three consultations with bankruptcy attorneys–one in person yesterday, and two over the phone today. I have explained my situation to them in detail and they’re all gung ho and ready to help me file Chapter 7 ASAP. The problem is that they won’t do anything until both their fees and the court filing fee are paid in full. That would be fine if I had a tree in my back yard that sprouted $2,000 but sadly I don’t, haha! I know I asked what the worst that could happen was, but what I really want to know is do I even NEED to file bankruptcy? Of course most attorneys will say yes–they’re obviously not running a charity, and that’s how they make money. COMPLETELY understandable! I just need to hear from someone who has nothing to lose what I really need to do. Knowing what you know about my situation, if you were in my shoes, would YOU file bankruptcy??

    • You’re right that this depends on Georgia law. Wisconsin is a marital property state, and some creditors CAN garnish a non-incurring spouse’s wages for the other spouse’s debt.

      Filing bankruptcy without being paid upfront is an ethical problem in MOST cases, as it creates a conflict of interest for the attorney. But I don’t recommend a bankruptcy for someone who doesn’t need it. I listen to the client’s story, give options, and recommend one or two that I think make the most sense in that situation. If an attorney doesn’t tell you WHY he/she thinks you should file bankruptcy, look somewhere else. NACBA.org has a good attorney finder. When talking to an attorney, ask what will happen if you don’t file bankruptcy. Good luck!

  141. I have a brother that is on disability for mental illness and is planning on suing me because he thinks I should be helping him out financially. Even though no one else in the family speaks to him because he is very mean, I have been the one that would help him when I could, with money, gifts and emotional support. His behavior has now risen to where he said he will forge a document that I owe him $4,000 and sue me in NJ civil court. I live in another state and it will cost me time and money to defend such a frivolous lawsuit. He is doing it to harass me, he was convicted of stalking females many times in the past.
    When I get this phony lawsuit will the court allow me to respond without showing up in A NJ courtroom? I think it is terrible if a court will allow him to do this to me. I wouldn’t be able to counter sue for any time and travel damages because he is poor. He has now alienated me and I also will never have a relationship with him in the future. Also, how would I convince a court that it is not my signature, he has all the time in the world to practice and forge my signature. He is a very sick person and enjoys harassing people.

    • For legal advice for your specific situation, you should talk with a local attorney.

      In general, the proper venue for a lawsuit is the home of the defendant. If someone gets sued in an improper venue, a change of venue can usually be filed, transferring the case to the proper court. If it gets that far, your attorney can help you challenge your brother’s evidence. Good luck!

  142. hi,
    just curious if there is any advice you could shoot my way.
    i have signed into a dumb loan when I was younger, I was making payments and then I lost my job and got behind on bills. I started doing better and trying to catch up and I fell through stairs and had a rough back injury. I have been getting injections and going through alot with it. I finally got back to work with another job and it lasted 4 months and I ended lose Ling that one because my employer told me it seemed like I was going through alot and it was affecting my work i worked at a dealership.
    now I finally got another job one month later and another dealership and I start tomorrow. I am still going through hospital and doctor visits I had an injection today.
    I was served with paper saying I was being sued and I am to appear on 2/20. I’m not sure what to do. I just started my job and im so behind with the injury im going thru now..

    • The best advice I can give is speak with a local attorney. NACBA is a great place to start. Your attorney can listen to your story and give you options on how to deal with your debt. Good luck!

  143. Hello Mr. Nason,
    I was involved with a brawl fight at a bar in Georgia back in October. I received a summons and complaint letter back in November. However, they didn’t mention anything about how much they are suing me for. I called around to look for Civil Defense lawyer and they said the letter is meant for the bar I was at, not me. For that reason, I didn’t take any action. Now, in January, I received a letter and it’s telling me that there’s a default judgement against me and I have a non-jury trial to attend. Can someone sue me without stating how much they are suing me for?

    • I don’t know anything about Georgia law. Usually, the complaint specifies how much the plaintiff is looking for. I’d take the recent letter to a local attorney and ask for an explanation. Since this isn’t a criminal complaint, an attorney dealing with debt can tell you what it means. NACBA is a good place to start. Good luck!

      • Hi, i am being sued in a small claims by my exboyfriend, we stayed “best friends” and took out a loan (he co-sign for me)I had a really hard time and my husband lost his job long story short he payed off the loan and now he is sweing me for more then what the loan was. but he said when i reached out that it was ok that he would take care of it now out of spite because my oldest is presenting siymtoms of being molested around the time we where dating i reached out to asked him/or find out what happen he replied with the summons! what can i do?. I dont want to involve my daughter or bring her situation into court i honestly dont know what to do and have no money to get a lawyer like he did

        • You need to speak with a local attorney, or your local legal aid agency. If you don’t defend, your ex will likely get a default judgment and try to collect from you. You might have a defense, but you may lose it if you don’t raise it before judgment. NACBA.org is a good place to find a lawyer close to you. Good luck!

  144. I am the stepfather to this 17 year young lady in Houston,TX. Her mother and I are married. However, I took it upon myself to buy/finance a car for her. Her mother and I are still married but our daughter is not deserving of this car. My wife (her mother) went to her ex husband’s house and took the car. Her biological father gave me $4K for the down payment. I have been financing the car and spent well over $4K on this car. My question is her biological father is taking me to small claims court (for $5000). I don’t know what the extra $1000 is for but he is. Like i said before, I have already paid more than the $4K in car payments. I have an older step daughter that is a college student. Her father was paying for her car.My 17 year old stepdaughter is undeserving of this car I pay for. My wife took my oldest daughter’s car and swapped it out with my 17 year old’s car (the one in my name). So the 17 year old is not without a vehicle. My wife and I are not financially benefiting from this exchange nor are we using the car. We gave it to our oldest daughter (which is the biological daughter from her ex). Now he wants $5000? So in other words can he get any money out of me or try to get any money out of me after I took the car away from my stepdaughter? Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your answers. I will be more than happy to rate you question with highest stars when we’re complete.

    • If he gets a judgment, yes, he can get money out of you. But whether or not his small claims suit will be successful is a matter of Texas law, and I know nothing about Texas state law. You should speak to a local attorney before a judgment is entered against you. I always recommend NACBA, but keep in mind we (usually) do things other than bankruptcy. Your local attorney can explain the state law and tell you if you have a defense to this small claims action. Good luck!

  145. Hello! I currently reside in Indiana. Me and my wife voluntarily returned a car we could no longer afford. She is currently a stay at home mother with our three children. I haven’t been able to appear in court for any hearings because of my job at the time. Well, I’m no longer employed there, and I’m in the hiring process of another opportunity. On the 6th of Feb. 2017 a judgement was rendered against us, and the car company is threatening to garnish my wages. I’m not freaking out, but I’m very bothered here. I’ve been researching alot of commerce law the past couple months. Still very raw in this area…so information on the internet can lead to headaches. I know I have rights to my personal earnings. I know the UCC is something I’ve looked into, but again I’m still new to these processes. A4V wouldn’t work, unless there is something I’m missing. Please point me in the right direction! I understand legal advice isn’t given. But a starting point would be very beneficial. This is a very time sensitive case. Thank you for your convenience!

    • This is going to depend on Indiana state law. I doubt the UCC will come into play, once a judgment’s been entered. A good starting point is to contact a local attorney. NACBA has an attorney finder that will put you in touch with an attorney who is familiar with the laws of your state. Good luck!

  146. Have a question? So I got served some papers a week ago and I’m being sued for 841.00 by web bank via Conn’s store. But I don’t have no money nor do I have anything to be sued for. What do I do?

    • If you’re confident that you are collection-proof under your state’s laws, you could let the creditor get a default judgment. But if you’re wrong, the creditor may begin collecting on that judgment. To be safe, you should contact a local attorney to learn about your options. NACBA is a good place to start. Good luck!

  147. I have credit card and payday loan debt my only source of income is SSI can my SSI be garnished or taken from me? Thank you

    • I don’t know of any jurisdiction where SSI is available to creditors. But to be sure, you should talk to a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder that will help you find someone close.

  148. If I’m sued by my insurance company after being in a car wreck does that mean the other party receives compensation

    • You’ll have to talk to your lawyer about that. In most cases when an insurance company sues, the other driver’s insurance company has already paid its customer under the uninsured motorist coverage, and is suing the defendant because he/she didn’t have insurance. But if your insurance company is suing you, there might be something else going on that your attorney can explain.

  149. I accepted an informal invite to take a trip to Colorado with a guy I was dating. He wanted to buy a car out of state and needed the company to drive back from Colorado to Florida. In conversation, I expressed that I would kick in some money for snacks and maybe gas. When we arrived he discovered the car was not all he wanted and didn’t buy it. We flew back the next day. He paid for that and I believe now he is trying to sue me to pay him back for the whole trip. Is this right?

    • I don’t know. If he actually sues, you should speak to a local attorney. But it would be pretty tough to prove there was a verbal contract to pay for a trip, when the other party claims it was a gift.

  150. Hi Bret. An attorney who represented me for a parental visitation case in a state where my child lives is now claiming I still owe him money. He is trying to sue me. Can he sue me in his state (where services were rendered) or does he have to sue me in my state? I was served with a claim affidavit from his state yesterday. Also, I have always resided in my state. I’ve never lived in his state. Thanks and I think you helping people out on your free time is wonderful!

    • If you have some connection to a jurisdiction, you can be sued there. If you’ve lived there, done business there, owned property there, etc., personal jurisdiction will likely attach.

      If you are sued in a state that you don’t think is proper, you should hire an attorney to challenge the jurisdiction. Good luck!

      • That’s exactly what I’ll do. Either way, I really appreciate your advice. Thanks Bret!

  151. Hey Bret I live with my son and his mother I’m on disability and and was trying to buy a home but I have been told there’s old debt on my report my girlfriend pays my bills for me since I am on disability how do I clear up any collections that are on my report if I can no longer pay because of no money or wages since I’m only getting disability can you give any guidance I know that you can’t give legal advice but how do I find out if they went before a judge for a judgement

    • You should talk to a local attorney. Bankruptcy could clear up your credit report, but it will take a couple of years. You may not need it, if you’re collection-proof.

      But my guess is that the debt isn’t the only thing keeping banks from lending you money. If you have no wages, lenders may wonder how you’re going to pay back their loan.

  152. Hi Bret,
    My boyfriend recently repoed himself on his car and has been making payments ever since. He was in the hospital with his son when one payment was due. He was about a week late but he did pay the full amount. He is now being sued for that incident. What should he do?

    • He should talk with a local attorney before the creditor gets a default judgment. If he doesn’t have someone, NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!


  154. i defaulted on my student loan. i have not had any job or income in the past 2+ years. i have ZERO assets. my mother co-signed my loan, she owns a home, a car, assets, etc. at what point are they going to realize i have nothing and that they cannot collect a judgement from me and move on to suing my mother? i read something that they cannot sue us both at the same time? so right now the process is going on for me (no judgement or anything yet, just notice from an attorney that i am being sued) but i want them to move on to my mother..

    • Creditors will go after anyone they think can pay. My guess is this creditor will sue everyone liable on the note in one action and get a judgment against everyone at the same time. Then, the creditor will usually look to the deepest pocket to get paid.

      If you’re collection proof and if the student loans are federal loans, look into an income based repayment program (IBR.) Nacba has a good attorney finder if you want to find someone local to help you. Good luck!

  155. Hi I have been reading your post and I wanted to ask you that if I have been sued and a court date has been set, if I called the creditor to see if I can make arrangement to pay the debt off before the hearing date is it possible that they will do it and will I still have to go to court?

    • It’s possible, it all depends on the creditor. Most would rather have your money than show up at court. It’s worth a shot, but I usually recommend going through an attorney to protect your interests.

      • Thank you, it’s for $637.00 from Walmart credit card I got into a little financial difficulty was unable to make my payments and a civil suit was charged against me. I don’t have money for an attorney I just want to try to settle with them and be done.

        • You could contact the attorney representing Walmart. They’ll likely dismiss if you pay the amount they are suing for (plus the collection costs) before the hearing. Good luck!

  156. Thank you Attorney Bret for you counselation, I did speak with the attorney that was working as a creditor on behalf of Walmart and they did a thirty day hold on court and we settled to make 3 executive payments where I won’t have to pay the fees. So I’m grateful for the advice
    Peace and Blessings to you.
    P.s. I knew I owed the debt , and I just wanted to get it right without the courts…😊 So thank you again😏

  157. Generally speaking.If two people own the title to a vehicle and one of them are sued,can the vehicle be taken from the other one.It’s very old,but was inherited.

    • It all depends on what state you live in. In Wisconsin, creditors are only allowed to levy against non-exempt assets. We have a $4000 exemption for motor vehicles, so if the equity in the car (value less any liens) is less than $4000, it would be safe from any judgment creditors. For information regarding your particular situation, speak to a local attorney. NACBA.org has a good attorney finder.

      • I’m in Pennsylvania. Its a 1995 GMC Jimmy. I don’t imagine it’s worth much. Thank you.

  158. Hello, I live in Texas and I have a dentist bill for 5000 that I thought was taken care of but wasn’t and am now being sued for 5000, when I was at my last appointment it was only 2000. Can they sue me for more? I’m just worried about how much they’ll make me pay because it wasn’t 5000

    • It depends on Texas state law. Usually, creditors add interest, penalties, and legal fees to the original amount. If you want to dispute this, you should speak to a local attorney before the dentist’s office gets a judgment. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  159. I’m in Wyoming and Im a university of Wyoming student. I was told my landlord would involve her attorney if I didn’t pay 4 months rent. However, I have been paying her by week. Can I still be sued?

    • It depends on Wyoming landlord/tenant law and your lease. If you want legal advice for your specific situation, talk to a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder.

  160. I got a car through my bank in 2008 and got laid off in 2011 which resulted in my car being repo. They sold the car for 7,000. I then got another job in Oct. 2012. My bank then sent me to a collection agency for the remaining balance on the car. I started working with agency on Dec 2012 up until Dec 13 to pay monthly. I haven’t paid in
    two years 2015 & 2016. I recently was served with a summons that I was being sued by my old bank. What should I do?

    • Contact a local attorney. You may have state law remedies available, or a bankruptcy might be in your best interests. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  161. I was involve in a car accident 2 weeks ago, but my insurance doesn’t want to cover me. The texted me saying “to fix my car is $500, do you want to get it fixed or go to court” what should I do?
    ~Also in the police station & asked them for a police report, once they gave it to me I asked them that who was at fault & they told me that driver 1 which was her is at fault by default

    • You should contact a local attorney that handles insurance claims before the Statute of Limitations expires. Good luck!

  162. I am being sued by Bestway rent to own. I had a job and rented as soon as I started. I then lost my job and was making payments as I could. I then fell behind and couldn’t make any payment at all. I am now being harassed at my home people from their company are coming to my residence banging on my door and windows, and calling and texting me saying open my door and I know you’re in there. Now it has gotten to a point I’m receiving calls from blocked numbers saying that I am going to be served and that Ive been warned. My references are receiving these same calls. Can I be arrested for this or if I’m not home to get served will a warrant be issued?

    • It depends on what the law says where you live, but most of the time, the creditor can only sue you in civil court. If they can’t serve you personally, most places have alternative methods of serving a summons and complaint.

      If you were renting the furniture/electronics/etc., it still belongs to the creditor, and they will sue to get it back. You should talk to a local attorney for advice specific to your issue.

  163. Hi
    My husband is being sued by a bank for 50k for a house he bought in fl back in 2005 we had two mortgage 80/20 my husband loss his job back then and we were unable to keep the mortgage payment we tried to work with the two banks but decline to help us so we loss our house in 2007. Now we received court papers past march about being sue for the second bank “20” we didnt response didnt know what to response either a month ago received a affivadit of non military service .Today i checked court website said order setting case gives time and day. We bought a house in ct last september. The prevoius mortgage debt didnt even show in my husband credit report and now we are afraid to lose our house or husband be taken to jail. My husband loss his job last feb and he is collecting unemployment. we heard many people said not sense after many years being sued for mortgage.we dont know at this point what to do if he should go to court once we received the court order .

    • Your best bet is to talk with a local attorney. It’s unlikely anyone will go to jail, unless a judge orders you to appear and you ignore it. Your attorney will look at the papers you were served and be able to tell you if you need to appear or if you need to defend the Florida lawsuit. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  164. I went to see a CPA to prepare my tax returns, i arrived a little late so he told me to leave the papers and had me sign a paper to authorize him to file my tax returns, he never told me how much he was going to charge me or nothing. Later he emailed me saying that he filed my tax return and that i owed him $255, i told him that was too much, ive never paid more than $60 to file taxes. so i decided to file my own tax returns for free online. Now he’s taking me to small claims for the $255, am i obligated to pay this even if he never filed my tax return to the IRS? please advice!

    • You’ll be obligated to pay it if you lose at court. If you don’t want a judgment to be entered against you, you should speak to a local attorney asap. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  165. Hi,

    My rental car was damaged by a hailstorm in Denver, CO and I filed the claim through my credit card insurance. The rental car agency is asking for about $15,000 for the damage repair, which is excessive as there is no other functional damages to the car other than superficial dents. The are offered short of $9000 from the visa insurance and asked me to sign the credit card authorization form to pay for the balance and threatened to forward the full claim to collection plus 30% penalty and place a lien on me. What actions should I take? Am I obligated to pay for the unreasonable repair bill simply because they refused to take my insurance’s offer?
    Thank you.

    • You need to talk to a local attorney. You may end up in litigation with your credit card company and the rental car agency. The result will likely turn on state law and the rental contract you signed. Good luck!


    • I don’t know if anyone will be able to take your property; the answer depends on where you live. I would suggest you get a local attorney to advise you on your options. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  167. Is it true that if I am on SSDI that the credit card company can’t garnish or levy?

    • Government benefits are typically off-limits to most creditors. If you want legal advice about your specific situation, you need to speak with a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  168. I live in California. I am getting sued for a payday loan, they are going to deliver the court papers summons tomorrow. I’m on SSI. I also own a home paid for (inherited). I and my wife are both on SSI, we can’t afford to pay the $800 they want. What do I do? Nacba has no attorney 150 miles from me. Also, greater Bakersfield Legal Aid may not be able to help and they are the only local legal aid in Kern county for low income people. They have no volunteers for my area at this time. I may need to handle it myself, so all the info I can get is appreciated!

    • If you can’t find a NACBA member closer to you, try a Google search: “bankruptcy attorney kern county california”

      Bankruptcy may not be the right solution for you, but a local attorney will be able to give you advice specific to your financial situation. Good luck!

  169. I am a resident of Tennessee and my neighbor asked me twice about fencing and I told him that I don’t plan to have fence in future. He came to me third time but then out of courtesy, I told him to give me a quote about how much it will cost me. But then next thing I saw was he started installing the fence and after it was installed he told me that my share in dollars. I was shocked and told him that I need time to think. After thinking about it, I told him that I won’t be able to share as I don’t want to pay for something that I don’t plan to have in future.

    He then messaged me o and said that I cannot back out from my commitment. I replied and mentioned that I never made a commitment about it. Then he told me that he will go to the court but just to keep things to peace, I offered him half amount to stay out of court as I don’t have time but he mentioned he wants full money and again mentioned that he will take me to the court. I told him to send me the vendor invoice and once I validate things, I will pay him but he sent me a personal invoice which just says how much I owe him. When I asked him about the vendor invoice, he told me to confirm the amount from ‘his’ neighbor and then he got rude and said that he won’t send anything to me.
    I told him to feel free to go to the court if you cannot give me an invoice/quote and then he replied that he gives me a month to pay for the amount and if I don’t then he will take me to the court and he will hurt my credit (which will never go away). He also mentioned that he will send me each and every invoice going forward for the fence as I would need to share it as per Tennessee law.

    I want to know if he files a case then do I stand a chance? And am I obliged to pay anything for the fence or the maintenance? I am a first time homeowner and I feel he is taking advantage of that.

    • The answer will depend entirely on Tennessee law. You should talk to a local attorney who practices in land disputes. NACBA has a good attorney finder. If the local NACBA attorney can’t help, he/she should be able to tell you who can. Good luck!

  170. Hello. I’m being sued by a cc company for 1700.00. I answered the summons but now I’m unavailable to attend the hearing. Will I be held in contempt for not showing up? I’m in Chicago Illinois.

    • It depends on Illinois law. In Wisconsin, you likely wouldn’t be held in contempt if you explained your absence ahead of time and rescheduled. If you simply don’t show up, the judge may not look kindly on wasting his/her time. If it were me, I’d contact a local attorney to represent me. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  171. Because of an old Army injury made worse by car accident I had to quit working and am now on SSDI as only income. I own a house appraised at 33,000.00 and an old car. I have credit card debt of 37,000 I was able to pay while working but now barely surviving on SSDI. I contacted them and tried to make arrangements to pay but they said my payment would be 600 a month which would take most of my SSDI. I told them I couldn’t pay. I am now told they are filing a civil action. Can they take my house and car?

    • It depends on where you live. Every state has different exemptions available. Your best bet would be to talk to a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Your attorney can explain all the different options available to you. Good luck!

  172. After my Mom died to pay bills, I rented out her truck to this guy. He paid every time, but not the last month. I recently found where he worked and call his job and left him a message saying he owes me the debt. His job is trying to sue me for harassment and want to file charges aganist. I tried locating him threw his family, but they only knew his name. What can I do? All I wanted was the money owed to me

    • Contact a local attorney who does creditor work. Your local state bar website should have a referral service. Good luck!

  173. I was selling some watches to a gentleman and he came to my house to look at them he decided he did not want them but before he left he saw i had a few stacks of gold watch parts and asked what i was going to do with them and i told him take them to pawn shop he offered to buy them I showed him on a testing stone and gold test acid that tested real. he told me that the best way was to file test so he file tested them and they did not test so he left later that evening i was inside my house and found 3 watch pieces that were stamped and they tested i called him he had me come to his home and i took my testing acid and stone showed him they stone tested real and then he file tested them and they showed to be real so he bought them for around what i would have gotten from a pawn hshop. so a few days later he calls me says he went to pawn shop and the watches were not real I told him he tested them himself and he said they were good to go now he is taking me to small claims court saying i lured an elderly man to my home to take advantage of him and he shows on this paper all these facebook messages from him and me not answering and that is because we are not friends on facebook anyway i sold him the watches for 700.00 and we both thought they were real. can he file fraud charges against me and have me put in jail.

    • Only a district attorney can file charges against someone for a crime. If you want legal advice for your specific situation, talk to a local attorney. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

  174. I live in Phila. PA. I BORROWED $27,000. From a sister to by a home. It was to be paid in full in 2 years. Unfortunately i still owe on the loan. We signed an agreement and had it notorized. I have been paying the agreed amount each month. Now because I chose not to be around her anymore because of mental anguish she’s saying she can and will sale my house. Said she will not give me an extension on the loan. I just had a second surgery for brain aneurysm. I wasn’t aware that a time limit was on the agreement but I do owe the money. Can she get the courts to take my home?

    • It depends on what Pennsylvania law says. Your best bet would be to contact a local attorney asap to learn about your options. NACBA has a good attorney finder. Good luck!

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