I recently checked my credit report and noticed that I had a judgement against me. I was never notified of the judgement or any court hearing. Is there any way to get the judgement taken off my credit report?
Sorry, no. Go to the courthouse to get a copy of the judgment and try to settle with them before they garnish your wages.
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First, you need to confirm whether there really is a judgment. At this point in time it is the actual judgment that is a bigger problem for you than it being reported on your credit report. So, contact the court that issued the judgment. You will want to get a copy of all the pleadings on file (you might have to pay for that). In particular, you are looking for the affidavit of service which will explain how the plaintiff allegedly served you and notified you about the law suit. From there, you will need to go see a lawyer in your state to find out what, if any, options you have at that point.
Until you do the above steps, it would be fruitless to dispute the credit report entry with the credit reporting agencies since the judgment is public record. The entry will come back verified and you will be back to square one. From the CRA's perspective, whether you were served or notified is not their problem, they simply see a judgment.
So, you need to address this issue at its source which is the court that issued the judgment. If the judgment doesn't exist, then you move on and start addressing the issue with the Credit Reporting Agencies.
There are two steps involved here. Experience leads me to key in on the fact that you don't say that there appears to be an error regarding the judgment or amount; you only say that you were never served. If there was a mistake as to your identity or a fraudulent court filing by some unscrupulous character, people usually say so. My guess is that you owed the money and got sued and probably got a default judgment entered against you.
The fact that you never received notice may or may not help you out. As a practical matter, all the creditor was required to do was serve you in good faith with court papers at your "last and usual," i.e., a valid past address for you in their records. If you moved and just never updated your account information, and more than a year has elapsed since a default judgment was entered against you, you will have a hard time removing default. So don't get your hopes up.
On the other hand, if the creditor never properly served you, that is another matter, and could help you get the default removed. But if you owe the money, you still owe the money, and a pointless removal of default may only serve to delay and antagonize a creditor who may be in the right in all other important respects. As far as the credit reporting agencies go, they have no obligation to independently investigate the underlying procedure behind a default judgment that is valid to all outward appearances.
Now that a judgment has been entered against you, the next step will be for the creditor to execute on that judgment, possibly resulting in garnishment of your wages. It is not too late to call the collection firm or law firm that is handling the lawsuit and discuss settling.
Of course, if you believe that you were wrongfully sued on a debt that you did not owe, you should call a consumer protection attorney near you immediately. Since this question was posted in the Bankruptcy area, however, it sounds like you may want to call a bankruptcy attorney near you for a free consult. Bankruptcy attorneys are normally well versed in FDCPA and FCRA, and can help you spot any irregularities in collection activities against you or in reporting your debts to the credit reporting agencies. Good luck.
This is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.
Look it up in the court in which it was issued and consult an
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