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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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My husband received a writ of garnishment from a collections

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My husband received a writ of garnishment from a collections agency. They are asking for $6000 to come out of his paycheck over a long period of time and he can't really figure out what it's from. If it's the one thing he thinks it is then it happened about 13 years ago. He can't seem to get an answer from the agency what it's for and he told them that he hadn't even heard of them until a year ago when they tried to get him to make payment. They are saying that the company who was after him for years sold the judgment to them.

Also we just bought a house this past summer and he had a few other judgments on his credit report that he had to get paid off before we would get the loan and this is one that he tried to find out about but the county court it came from didn't have any record of it and couldn't give him an answer as to what it was and said that perhaps it has reached the statue of limitations and it was destroyed. It wasn't on his credit record either.

It's signed by a judge and a lawyer and they say they are going ot garnish his wages but how can they do that if he has no idea what it is from and it doesn't show up on his credit report?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

The starting point is to look up the judge and find out what court he works in. From there, he should be able to call the clerk of the court and get a copy of all documents filed in the case. If he doesn't have the case number (which should be on the writ), he can ask if they can look it up by name. Not all courthouses will mail documents, and it's faster to go in and get the records, but he should call first to make sure they have it.

Once he finds out when the case was filed and where, if he was never served of notice of the suit, he can file a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment, explaining that he never knew about the debt. The statute of limitations for breach of contract in Washington is only six years, so if this really is a debt that he incurred 13 years ago, he should be able to have the default removed. Then, he'll be able to ask the judge to dismiss the case based on the fact that the statute of limitations has expired. What matters isn't when the collection agency bought the debt (they shouldn't be buying and trying to collect expired debts under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), but when he last made a payment or borrowed the money, whichever is later.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

That's the thing is that when we were going through the whole house buying thing he DID call that clerk of courts and gave the case number XXXXX the credit report and they did not have such a case number XXXXX the only explanation they had is that the records were destroyed after being there so long. I mean is this possible? How can the courts go after my husband when he can't get any info on the debt itself?

A judgment is good for ten years, and it can be renewed for another 10. But that means that the court should have records going back that long. You may want to find out whether their file retention policy is.

If the collection agency cannot produce any evidence that a debt is owed, or any evidence that a judgment was entered, and the debt is 13 years old (as far as you know), they can't collect it now. They need some information showing that they have a valid debt. And, as a consumer, your husband has a right to insist that they produce it before paying them anything.

Another option is to go to court and file a Complaint against the collections agency, asking the judge to declare that he does not owe any debt and to order them to refrain from trying to collect it. He can try to get a temporary injunction stopping them from garnishing his wages until it's sorted out, if he can prove that he would suffer irreparable harm if they are allowed to garnish his wages.
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