five years ago evicted from a apartment and now recieved a letter in the mail stating I owe including attorney fees? from the State of Indiana how legal is this?
It sounds as if you received the letter in the mail from a collection agency. First: the agency cannot just remove money from your bank account. To do this, the agency would have to first have a judgment against you and then subsequently file a third party citation to discover assets on your bank. Second: you have the right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to demand proof of the debt within 30 days. Until the debt is validated by the agency, the agency can neither report negative information to the credit bureaus nor continue collection activity. You should send your letter certified mail, return receipt requested.
The collection letter that you received should have specific language in it notifying you of your right to demand proof of the debt. If it doesn't, you have a potential lawsuit against the agency under the FDCPA.
The letter must state that you have 30 days from the date of receipt to dispute the debt. It must provide certain other disclaimers as well. If it is from an attorney, the attorney must have reviewed it. It must be true and correct. It must tell you that your dispute has to be in writing. If you dispute, the debt collector cannot take any action until it proves the debt. You will also want to ask them to prove that the statute of limitations has not passed. Any violations are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the company sues without proving the debt, contact a consumer law attorney immediately.
As for taking money from your account, it is done by garnishment. That requires a judgment.
[This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
When you find out that a judgment has been entered against you, normally by discovering that your wages are being garnished or the bank account has been frozen, you still have a couple of options.
In most States the Courts allow you to reopen and challenge a “default judgment”. Most States will allow a year to accomplish this. If you did not get the paperwork for the lawsuit, or you got the paperwork but never did anything, then the judgment was “entered” due to your default to file an Answer.
You have to bring a motion in the Court where the judgment is filed. That motion normally has to include a defense to the charges and a copy of your proposed Answer.
You should definitely get a local lawyer to help you with this, or seek the assistance of a Bankruptcy attorney to get rid of the liability. If you can’t afford a lawyer and you are being sued check out my website for a free form Answer.
Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.