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John Griffin Watts
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John Watts’s Answers

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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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  • Want a collection agency who calls for someone else to stop calling my nunber

    UPG Collections call my phone atleast 3-4 times a day for someone who doesn't live with me or I know. They won't stop. I have asked and asked.

    John’s Answer

    Get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state who sues debt collectors. A debt collector who keeps calling needs to be sued. That makes them stop more than a letter.

    Best wishes.

    John

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  • If I receive Ssi and Medicaid also 20 hours of home health care assistance can I spend down a settlement amount of money

    No details

    John’s Answer

    I'm not sure of what your exact question is -- tell me if this is what your situation is now....

    1. You received a settlement from a lawsuit
    2. But you are worried that the amount of the settlement (over $2,000) may kick you off of SSI and/or Medicaid?

    If that is what you are facing, then I suggest you get with an elder law or special needs attorney ASAP. There are usually options to still keep settlement money AND your SSI/Medicaid but normally you need to put the settlement money in a "special needs trust" sometimes called a "supplemental needs trust".

    Basically the government says, "OK, you can stay on your benefits, and you can use this money to SUPPLEMENT your current care, but when you die, if there is any money left over, we want to be paid back for the benefits we have given you."

    Very strict requirements on making this happen -- who sets up the trust, the timing of setting up the trust, who can be the trustee (the person who runs the trust), etc.

    Either find a lawyer or have your lawsuit lawyer recommend someone who knows what they are doing -- we see a lot of mistakes made and that can be costly to you.

    Best wishes!

    John Watts

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  • I am in the starting to to get my wages garnish for a car Iet go back 15 years ago What can I do to stop it

    In 1998 I bought a new car. Two years later I got layoff and had to let it go back In 2003 they got a judgement against me now 12 years years later they want to garnish my wages.

    John’s Answer

    If you were served with the lawsuit, then the judgment is valid. 12 years is a bunch of interest -- the judgment is around 4 times the judgment amount with the interest that has been accumulating.

    Here are the options someone in your position typically has:

    1. File bankruptcy (chapter 7) to wipe out the judgment.
    2. File bankruptcy (chapter 13) to pay the judgment off over 3-5 years.
    3. Get a lump sum of money (usually around 50%) to settle the judgment.
    4. Work out a smaller repayment plan than the 25% of your take home pay -- sometimes creditors will do this if you show them the hardship you are under and if they don't see a stable work history.

    I wish I had better options for you but once a valid judgment (that is you were served) is entered, your defenses against the lawsuit go away.

    Best wishes....

    John Watts

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  • Can a creditor garnish you for a car that you voluntarily turned over 11 years ago? How can I stop it?

    I received a letter stating that the creditor had filed a judgment against me back in 2007 in Birmingham, AL which I had no Idea about until this year when I received the letter. The car was turned in because it was a " lemon" and they did not wis...

    John’s Answer

    To garnish you, there must be a judgment. To have a judgment (even a default judgment), you must lose your case. To lose your case, you have to be served.

    That's the key -- were you properly served?

    If so, then you have to live with the judgment and either pay it off or file bankruptcy, etc.

    BUT.

    If you were NOT served, then you can get rid of the judgment. We have done this on judgments over 15 years old -- time doesn't matter, if you can show you were never served.

    When you are not served, that raises constitutional issues as there can be no judgment when no service.

    Get with a lawyer ASAP and find out your options...

    Best wishes

    John Watts
    Birmingham, Alabama

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  • If someone holds poa on me and it lists bank accounts on it. Can they take my money?

    The poa has a list of items that power is given to and one of those is finances and bank accounts. It has already been filed with the bank. If he takes my my money out can I do anything or am I stuck since I signed the poa?

    John’s Answer

    Very good question and one more need to think about.

    A Power of Attorney (POA) is a powerful tool but it can also be an incredibly dangerous weapon in the hands of the wrong person.

    In essence, a power of attorney gives the other person -- your "agent" -- the right to sign your name.

    So yes your agent could drain your bank account.

    Now as David has pointed out your agent is to act in your best interest so this should not be done unless it would help you.

    Since you have concern about this then I agree the best approach is to revoke the POA and let your agent and the bank know about you revoking this power of attorney.

    Also if you have any other financial accounts -- investment, etc. -- let them know also.

    It is helpful to have the right person have the right type of POA (many are not effective if you face elder law issues -- long term care) but if the wrong person has the POA, this can be very costly for you.

    Best wishes and feel free to get in touch with a lawyer in Alabama if you have more questions.

    John Watts
    Birmingham and Madison offices

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  • Could I possibly win from a debt collection?

    Hospital vs me to collect debt for emergency room visit.they did absolutely nothing. Insurance paid there part.they want 400 out of pocket.i went to doctor first. Ended up being misdiagnosed.

    John’s Answer

    Great question -- it has a couple of different parts.

    First, the simple answer is if the hospital sues you, it will be somewhat difficult to win as you did go to the ER. You would need to show that the hospital did a poor job of treating you and normally to do this you need expert testimony. Not practical in a $400 case.

    Second, you can try to work this out with the hospital. Be very specific about what happened and your concerns. This may cause the hospital to either drop the bill or reduce it.

    Third, if the hospital sends you to collection, you can deal with the collector. Often collectors will violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and this gives you an opportunity to sue the collector for money damages. Two major areas of violations:

    **Lying to you -- inflating the bill, telling you that you will be garnished before a lawsuit is even filed, etc.

    **Doing something unfair to you -- calling your neighbors, calling your co-workers, etc.

    My suggestion is start with trying to work it out with the hospital and then if that doesn't work get with a consumer protection lawyer.

    Best wishes

    John Watts
    Birmingham and Madison Offices

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