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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 13478
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I live in Pinellas County, Florida. I stopped paying on a

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I live in Pinellas County, Florida. I stopped paying on a credit card in 2009 when I became disabled (owed about $2000). Last week I was subpoenaed by a debt collection law firm to appear at a deposition and to bring all my financial records. If I don't appear, the form says I'll be in contempt of court. My question: Is it legal for this debt collection law firm to do this? What recourse do I have?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

It sounds like a judgment was entered against you, and the law firm is now pursuing collection efforts. As part of that, they are doing what is called a "Deposition in Aid of Execution", where as you said, they command you to appear and bring records of your finances. They will ask you questions concerning your wages, assets, liabilities, etc. Is it legal? Absolutely. When I worked for a firm where we did a lot of debt collections, I routinely did such depositions for my clients. And yes, they can go after you in court if you don't show up and seek sanctions against you, which can be attorney fees, court costs, even jail time (though you'd really have to screw up and keep blowing off the lawyer to have that happen in my experience).

What can you do? Well, the firm is trying to find out if you have the ability to pay anything or have anything to satisfy the debt. Certain assets and income are protected. Social Security for example, cannot be garnished except in limited circumstances. So, if you're on disability and collecting SSI/SSDI, that's off limits. Your homestead is also protected under Florida law. And if you don't have anything of value (e.g., a boat, other vehicles, artwork or collectibles, etc) it may very well be that the firm decides you are judgment proof and stops pursuing you. The judgment doesn't go away - and in fact can be renewed -so that if your circumstances change, they can go after you --but you may stop hearing from them at that point after the hearing. They won't tell you what they decide -they'll just stop collection efforts.

One way to make the judgment go away for good is to declare bankruptcy (which would erase the judgment), but that's a very dramatic step with significant consequences, so you'd want to talk to bankruptcy lawyer in consultation before you did anything like that.

If you need clarification or additional information, please reply, and I'll be happy to assist you further. Thank you.

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