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John Griffin Watts
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John Watts’s Answers

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  • If pay debt through a collection agency, should I pay the original amt. owed, or the reduced amt. offered in the letter ?

    Had a telephone bill that was never paid after moving. Tried to pay directly when I learned of the debt. from a credit report. Company rep said that the account had been turned over to collections and I could not pay direct.y. I received a letter...

    John’s Answer

    Several questions for you to consider:

    1. Is this showing up on your credit report now from the original creditor (phone company) or any debt collector?

    2. Will the debt collector agree in writing to not credit report or to delete the credit reporting if you pay?

    3. Do you agree on the amount claimed to be owed?

    The answers to these questions will help guide you on making the best decision.

    As Ron Sykstus mentioned there are a lot of issues to your very good question so my suggestion is get with one of us who practice in this area and once we know your unique situation we can give you some advice about which direction to go.

    Best wishes!

    John Watts

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  • Am I being scammed?

    I have had several calls over the last few days from a supposed debt collector. They've requested it be resolved or go to court. I did make an agreement with them to pay monthly payments. Guy says he is sending a contract for me to sign, but I hav...

    John’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Probably so -- legitimate debt collectors (even ones who break the law) don't ask for money to be sent to a person. They want it sent to their company.

    And you should have received a letter from the debt collector company.

    Never pay any money just because someone calls you on the phone -- instead ask them questions and get them to send you proof in writing. Legitimate ones will do this -- the scammers don't want to use the mail. They want to email or fax but they are terrified of sending a fraudulent letter through the mail.

    Make sure you didn't give them your bank account info -- if you did get with your bank to let them know you were scammed.

    I'll put some links to some articles that may be helpful to you.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • I am facing foreclosure and I have requested 3 times for home modification but bank has lost paperwork and more

    Only behind 5 payments but they have added a lot of fees I guess to keep me from coming up with reinstatement quote have several Misc. postings and reversal of payments

    John’s Answer

    If you are still before the foreclosure sale date, then you have a good number of options. One of the lawyers mentioned filing bankruptcy.

    You can also see about getting a loan modification or what is more broadly known as "loss mitigation" -- often the mortgage companies will violate the law in this process and that gives us an opportunity to sue them in federal court.

    We typically use the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) if it applies and RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) which applies to almost all mortgages.

    I have put a link to a free video series in Alabama about stopping and preventing a foreclosure -- feel free to go to it if you are willing to do the work to try to save your home. I mention this as some folks are NOT interested in doing anything -- I can't help those folks. But Alabama consumers that are interested in taking action give themselves a great advantage when dealing with the mortgage companies.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • If you receive a summons for private student loan debt are you having a lien placed against you?

    I received a summons not to appear in court but to contact the attorney and the court house. I owe over 80k in private loan debt. I am aware of the debt but unable to pay the amounts they want me to pay due to other debts, IRS, medical, living exp...

    John’s Answer

    As the other lawyers have mentioned, you have likely been sued.

    A lien occurs after a judgment.

    A judgment occurs after you lose a case.

    So you are probably at the very beginning of your case.

    Contact an Alabama lawyer ASAP and you may want to watch the detailed student loan video I did on being sued by National Collegiate Student Loan Trust (NCSLT) who I assume sued you.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • How do I prevent foreclosure of my property?

    I was 4 payments behind and I received a letter from AHFA stating my property is in foreclosure. Can I not reinstate my mortgage by making the past due payments? I am in Alabama. I am certain that I can make future payments on time but I don't wan...

    John’s Answer

    Has your house already been foreclosed? If so then your rights are much more limited.

    But if you have not yet been foreclosed, there are a number of options besides filing bankruptcy.

    Basic gist is you ask for "loss mitigation" and since you can make your payments (just not the back ones) then this will increase the chances of you qualifying for loss mitigation.

    We have a free workbook and video series for saving your home from foreclosure in Alabama in the link below.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • Can u get a court judgment to pay a hospital bill off your credit and show it as a debt?

    Trying to get a home but the judgment shows on my credit, and stops loan agent from accepting me.I have been paying on time, just would like it to show as a debit instead of a judgment

    John’s Answer

    The only option would be to have the creditor -- the one that got the judgment -- go with you to the judge and ask that the judgment be vacated. They rarely do this and only after you pay the judgment off.

    So not likely to happen.

    But typically if you show proof of payments then this may take away some of the negative aspects of the judgment as far as your home loan goes.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • What is the staue of limitaion on credit card debt in Alabama ?

    Had a creditor contact me for a credit card I had in 2010

    John’s Answer

    It depends -- we say it is 3 years. Collection lawyers say 6 years.

    There are a variety of issues to consider in how to respond.

    Is it the creditor or a collector who has contacted you?

    What does your credit report show?

    When did you last use the credit card?

    When did you last pay on the credit card?

    I have a discussion of the statute of limitations in the link below for Alabama -- hope that helps you.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • Can i sue a collection agency

    Can i sue a collection agency if i have in a written agreement that if i pay a certain amount that my account will be considered and reported as paid in full but was reported as pain in settlement and they ignore any attempt to correct the issue.

    John’s Answer

    Yes -- assuming the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) applies then it forbids a collector from lying to you.

    What you described is a lie.

    Get with a Georgia lawyer -- Steve Koval in Atlanta is good -- document what has happened and see if you can sue the agency in Federal Court.

    Best wishes

    John Watts

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  • Can a bank foreclose if the mortgage is constantly running 30 days late?.

    I can't make August pmt till September. Then I will be able to make one full pmt each month going forward but will not be able to make up that missed pmt for awhile.

    John’s Answer

    Normally no. The recent changes to federal law RESPA normally require that the mortgage be about 120 days late to foreclose.

    Get with a foreclosure defense lawyer in your state to make sure you understand the federal and state laws that apply to you.

    Best wishes!

    John

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  • How to force the collection agency to correct the wrong reporting?

    I saw a medical debt record from my credit report. I have already paid it and provided a collection agency with a receipt but the collection agency ignored my request and did not reply. How shall I force the collection agency to correct the wrong ...

    John’s Answer

    You can also sue directly under the FDCPA or fair debt collection practices act. This law says it is illegal to do false credit reporting.

    I just filed almost the exact lawsuit in federal court this week.

    Sometimes it is better to dispute under the FCRA but other times suing now is best.

    Get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to find out what is best for you.

    Sorry having to deal with this type of non sense.

    John

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