Follow These Steps When A Debt Collector Gets A Judgment Against You
If a debt collector sues you for debt and wins the case – or you ignore the case completely – the debt collector will win a judgment against you. A judgment allows the debt collector to come after you with highly aggressive tactics, including bank account garnishments, property liens, and property sales.
While this is a scary thought, there are some steps that you can take to defend yourself if a debt collector wins a judgment against you. We will look at what it means to have a judgment against you, as well as what you can do to defend yourself. Note that a judgment is not a demand from the court that you pay a debt in full. A judgment simply allows debt collectors to use additional collection methods.
Default Judgments Vs. Judgment/Arbitration Awards
When a debt collector files suit against you and you ignore the suit or don’t respond in time, the debt collector will be granted a default judgment. This is how most judgments are won in Pennsylvania. That is why we advise people never to ignore these suits.
If you have received correspondence from a debt collector regarding a lawsuit, contact an attorney at Fenters Ward. When you do, all future correspondence from the debt collector will come to us. If you do defend your case but aren’t successful, the debt collector will win a judgment/arbitration award.
How To Get Out Of A Debt Collection Judgment
In rare cases, you may be able to open a judgment once it has been entered (though it can be difficult). You may be able to open a judgment that has been entered against you if:
- The lawsuit was served improperly
- Defects appear on the face of the judgment
- The judgment is void (for various reasons)
If you believe that you have cause to open a judgment, contact the debt attorneys at Fenters Ward. We can advise you on the next steps that you should take.
How Long Does A Debt Collector Have To Collect On A Judgment?
One question that we are often asked is “How much time does a debt collector have to act on a judgment?” The answer is: “it varies.” If the judgment was entered in a magisterial district court, the debt collector has 5 years to record the judgment before it expires. In Pennsylvania, a debt collector has 20 years to garnish your bank accounts–if the proper procedures are followed. Bank garnishment is a rather complicated process.
In order to get a bank garnishment, a debt collector must file a writ of execution against your bank, freeze your bank account, then withdraw non-exempt funds. For property liens, a debt collector must renew the judgment every 5 years. To take out a lien against your property, the debt collector must first find your property, then follow the proper procedures. Fenters Ward’s expert attorneys can advise you further in this matter.