Garnishing BAAAAAD
June 27, 2005 12:56 PM   Subscribe

A friend needs help fending off a creditor, any help would be appreciated greatly. Details inside.

Friend lived in military housing in Fort Campbell Kentucky, and stayed off post. They had door-to-door salesmen and he foolishly let in one selling ‘high end’ computers for $30 a month, the computer being a Leo 2000. The payment was allotted out of a bank account twice a month, on the first and mid month. This computer was paid twice a month, about $60 a month for a couple of years. When friend was stationed to Hanau Germany all the allotments stopped and he was too busy to get them reinstated, but he did send off payments for this computer. On the paper work sent to him, it states he had only $1000 left to go, but since no other payment was made (No job) they slapped on a late fee upon late fee upon late fee until it rose to $3000. Unfortunately the original paper work is lost, but the court papers have all payments made up until friend was put out of the army. The company is now suing him for $3000+ which he cannot afford. Is there anyway at all to fight this?
posted by Vaska to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Legal aid or a lawyer (depending on his current income). It's probably worth a couple hundred bucks to have somebody competent look over the suit paperwork to see what his chances are. Even assuming there's nothing wrong with the installment-sale contract itself, sometimes creditors take shortcuts when filing suit, or screw something up. If you bring it to the attention of the judge, they won't get their judgment. In that case, they may be willing to settle for less, or it may not even be worth it to sue him again.

So, yes: there may be a way to fight this, but you'll probably have to see (or be!) a lawyer to figure out what.

IIAL, but IANYL. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer.
posted by spacewrench at 1:16 PM on June 27, 2005

The deck is already stacked against him if he doesn't even have a copy of the contract. Tell him to run (don't walk) to an attorney. An hour of their time will probably be the smartest move in this particular case.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:27 PM on June 27, 2005

Art of Credit has a lot of information on dealing with this kind of thing. The important thing for him to do is SHOW UP assuming a hearing has already been scheduled for this judgement. 99% of the victories these people get are because of default judgements when the person being sued doesn't show and once that happens everything becomes 1000x harder.

Unfortunately many companies have decided that they'll end-run around usury laws by assessing 'fees' that turn a $1000 debt into $3000 a year or two later. 36% is the kind of return I'd like to see on my investments! He can fight them on a number of fronts with this but he's got to get on the stick -immediately-.
posted by phearlez at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2005

If he were still in the Army, there are people on base who work with these sorts of scams; they're pulled on soldiers all the time. Is he in the Reserves? (Unfortunately most of their job is basically warning their guys against getting into these things to begin with.)

Also, the state attorney general usually has a consumer advocacy office which likes to know about these things, so they can bring class action suits.
posted by dhartung at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2005

One thing that your friend should explore is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act , which provides various protection against debtors.

I do fail to understand the statement that When friend was stationed to Hanau Germany all the allotments stopped. That isn't the way that military allotments work - they continue unless the servicemember specifically requests that they be stopped (or possibly if they were initially set up to exist for only a limited period of time - I'm not even sure that's possible).
posted by WestCoaster at 7:44 PM on June 27, 2005

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