March 15, 2009,
A.W. asks from Dalzell, SC on March 11, 2009
My Debt Was Sent to a Collections Lawyer
I got out of the Air Force early and owed back part of my bonus. We did not have the money to pay it back and I asked for a 6 month extension on payments so that for that time I would not have to make any payments and we could figure out what to do. In that time they were suppose to send me a notice and another bill, they did not. Being that we did not have the money, I did not follow up on it (I know I know...please dont judge me :) ) A year later I receive a letter in the mail from a lawyer saying that I am being sued for the full amount of the loan. I called the lawyer office and they said that the DOD was trying to contact me for a year and that I refused to answer my phone and the mail they sent me was to an old address that I have not lived at for over 2 years. The DOD got the first letter to my correct address and this lawyer was able to send me mail to my correct address, I do not understand why I was not contact for over a year about this. Is there anything I can do because I do not think it was fair that they are acting like they could not find me...this is the government and my correct address and phone number is on my discharge paper work. NEED ADVICE!! THANKS !!! P.S. I am unable to work because my son had brain surgery and needs round the clock care for the time being. This is my debt that I had before my husband and I got married and they are wanting his information as well.
J.S. answers from Atlanta on March 12, 2009
Everyone who has posted is talking about owing money to Sears and businesses. From your post it sounds like you owe money to the military itself. There is a difference. Yes talking to JAG is a good idea, but I think maybe a base or command financial specialist, military guy not Ramsey who is not knowledgeble in military issues, or the ....... I'm Navy and we have Navy Marine Relief people on base who help you with all things financial. Look for their equalivelent on the Air Force Base. I'll ask my husband what happens when people owe back their bonuses he may be able to find out.
I hope and pray your son is doing well. The military has an exceptional family member program. People from their may be able to help you since you left the military to care for him.
Take Care, J.
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D.L. answers from Atlanta on March 12, 2009
First of all, thank you for serving our country! God Bless You. Second, I would call or write to Dave Ramsey who is a Christian first and second a Financial wonder. You can find him on-line and on radio at 640 A.M. at 3:00 in the afternoon. He has such good sound advice for all finanacial situations. I pray that your son heals completely from he's surgery. May God surround you with peace, discernment, wisdom & compassion.
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S.L. answers from Atlanta on March 12, 2009
I recommend you take the letter you got to a lawyer or JAG yourself! Any advice here is from non-lawyers so you can not rely on the advice being correct. Your rights may vary depending on the state you are in. I suggest you learn what your rights are. There may even be a waiver due to your situation. While this is not your husband's debt, since you are not working, you have one household income so if you work out a payment plan with them on the debt, the funds will have to come from your household income.
L.B. answers from Atlanta on March 12, 2009
The collection agency does have responsibility of attempting to notify of an outstanding debt, prior to it being referred to a collection agency. However, since you acknowledge that the debt is legitimate, the best approach to make is, re-contact the attorney's office and let them know you want to make payments. Should the attorney take you to court, it will show the judge that you are trying to be responsible by paying the debt. Which will position you to explain you situation to the judge, regarding your inablility to pay it back in full. Chances are the judge will have leniency for your situation it might rule in your favor.
You do not have to provide your husband's information since it was a debt that occurred prior to your marriage. If you should have any more questions, let me know. I own a collection service. Wishing you and your family the best! LJB
S.G. answers from Savannah on March 12, 2009
Yes, go to JAG with the letter and tell them your conversation with the lawyer. A lot of collection places try to pose as lawyers to scare you into paying the debt, you should be a legal resident of SC and SC is not a common law state when it comes to debt. Meaning your hubby can't be forced to pay your debt you incurred before you got married so don't give them ANY of his info. JAG will probably have you send them a cease and desist letter which will tell them not to contact you by phone-mail only, and to prove that any attempts to contact you failed and that the debt is yours. They will have 30 days from the postage date of the letter to do this. If they don't, then they have to leave you alone and remove anything they have put on your credit reports. This is not to say that another collection agency won't pick it up later down the road. And you'll have to go through this same process with them. And if they try to call you, either don't answer the phone or tell them you are contacting a lawyer and hang up.
How do I know all this???? Well, I have debt collecters trying to get me for $700 for a Sears card that I had paid off back in 2000. I have gotten the threating phone calls that they were going to garnish my wages (I don't work) and when told that they said they would call my hubby's command (we are military) and take it from him! Can't happen! I've sent the cease and desist letters and I've also sent copies of my paid off letter from Sears to places too. They other reason is that I had a Credit Card that my daughter's father got a hold of and ran it up after we seperated (we were never married either) so I have a constant battle with that because I refuse to pay what I didn't charge and I didn't know that it happened till I got collection letters because I had moved from IN to SC when it happened and I had a zero balance on that card at the time-so I thought!
Good luck and don't let these collections guys scare you! I've delt with some real areses and they can get pretty rude! Go to your legal dept on base and see wha they can advise!
C.H. answers from Savannah on March 12, 2009
Talk to JAG. Also the Army has ACS (Army Community Service) and utilizes Army One Source (an online help for EVERYTHING). See what the Air Force has for equivalent help.
J.D. answers from Charleston on March 12, 2009
I agree that you need to talk to someone in the legal office on base. I just found out last month that in South Carolina they are NOT allowed to garnish your wages unless you owe back taxes or child support or have a judgment in another state where you lived when the debt occurred. So if they try to scare you with that, they cannot do it. Good luck! Definately talk to the legal office, but I also think Dave Ramsey IS a good guy as the other lady said and he does know more than people who don't listen to him or read his book think. You should check his book out at the library...it could change the way you live! Again, good luck!
R.D. answers from Spartanburg on March 12, 2009
If everything you said is true, fight this!! I had something like this happen on a much, much smaller scale, but the tactic was the same-- I had a subscription that automatically renewed, and we were debating over something like $50, and it took months to prove that I was in the right. You should make them prove they sent you all these notices-- they should have copies and records, which they probably won't be able to produce. Make sure you have your own paperwork in order, and talk to a (free or cheap) lawyer if you can-- if your husband is active duty, there should be some info and advice available to you. Don't give out your husband's info-- this should not have to affect your husband's record or credit. Good luck with this-- I'm sure it's the last thing you need with everything else you have going on, but don't give in to their scare tactics-- even if you should have paid on time, they should be honest about the situation and deal with the facts as they happened.