November 25, 2017

Forgotten Lawsuit Creates Big Problems for Prior Chapter 7 Client

Earlier this month I received a call from a Chapter 7 client that I had represented several years ago.  He is attempting to refinance his house and has discovered that a judgment creditor has a lien for several thousand dollars.  The creditor was listed on the case, but neither he no I knew that there was any judgment.

I directed him to visit the county courthouse and pull the file for this case.  He did and he reports that the return of service shows that his wife was served by a sheriff’s deputy.  His wife has no recollection of being served.  We did list the creditor on the bankruptcy petition but because we did not know that there was a judgment, we did not file a motion to avoid the judgment lien.  What can he do?

There are a number of lessons you can learn from this man’s experience.  First, you should always obtain copies of credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus prior to filing bankruptcy.   In Georgia, you can get a free credit report from each of the 3 main credit bureaus twice a year.  Online, you can go to annualcreditreport.com and download your reports.  Because credit reports obviously contain sensitive information the annualcreditreport.com system will ask several questions to identify yourself.  These are usually multiple choice questions – for example, the system may say “your credit report shows that you previously lived on one of the following streets: (a) Oak Street (b) Thompson Street (c) Ivers Road (d) none of the above.

If you are unable to answer these questions, the system will instruct you to mail away for your credit reports – here is a link to a page on my website with the credit report request letters.

Credit reports are helpful because they will usually show pending lawsuits as well as the names, address, account numbers and debt amounts for most of your creditors.  Obviously I can’t require all bankruptcy clients to bring me credit reports but it sure helps avoid “forgotten” creditors or judgments. [Read more…]

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