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I would like to get legal answers regarding credit issues and debts.

Portland, OR |

I currently had 5 loans, 3 credit cards and 2 credit lines I currently owe almost maxed out but there are 4 of those accounts I can not pay anymore which was only opened for about 2-3 months ago. I would like to ask what are the minimum amount of months I have to pay my balances before I get in trouble with the creditors and do I go to jail? I'm very scared because I heard I can be going to jail if I don't make payments but I am at a dead end and afraid I can not continue with the payments.

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Attorney answers 3


There's no upper or lower limit set by the law on payments on debts. If you fail to pay a debt back under the terms of your original loan, and you can't come to an agreement with the lender, then they have the right to sue you for the balance remaining. If they do, and they can prove that you really borrowed the money and owe it to them, then they can get a judgment against you. Using the judgment, they can garnish your wages and bank accounts, and place liens on any real property you own, until the judgment is satisfied (i.e., they got all the money they're owed - plus any extra fees and interest they incurred during the case, which can be considerable - so there's an incentive to settle before a lawsuit). They can't garnish more than 25% of your wages, or leave you with less than $936 per month if you're working full-time.

You can't be sent to jail for failing to pay a debt. You can be jailed for willful refusal to follow a court order; but the key word there is 'willful.' If you're unable to pay because you truly don't have enough money, you can't be jailed. Please don't worry about that. If a debt collector tells you that they can send you to jail, then they have violated the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. You should consult with an attorney if this has happened.

If you have a lot of these debts and you're afraid of garnishment of your assets, you may want to consider filing for personal bankruptcy. A bankruptcy can 'discharge' almost all these debts, for a tiny fraction of the amount that you owe. You can read more about this process here:

Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: | Online:


Based on the info you set forth in your posting, and on the stress that you are clearly feeling about your situation, I think you should invest the time to seek out a consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney. Such a consultation will allow you have a professional assess your situation, and give you advice on how best to address your debts and plan on how to proceed. It will help to give you peace of mind in knowing that you are doing the best you can with the situation, at the least.

Most bankruptcy attorneys, including our office, give FREE consultations for individuals in your situation. Do not hesitate to do this sooner rather than later. Better to get info now, before there is something emergent happening.

Have you been sued by any of your creditors?

Tim L. Eblen


First, in Oregon, you cannot go to jail over a debt. (You can go to jail if you do not show up for a judgment debtors exam, but that is because you are in contempt of a judge's order - not because you are in debt.) The facts you list in your question indicate you may be a candidate for a bankruptcy. You should contact me or any of the other attorneys here that may have responded to further examine your options. I as well as many others offer a free initial consultation. I do not believe a cursory online answer will lead you to any relief of your concern based on the severity of your situation.

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