I can't tell you what to do & I can't predict what the creditor will do. Debt collectors either put the debt on your credit report & wait for you to voluntarily pay to clean up your credit or they sue. If they sue, you have the right to defend the suit on legal grounds. "I can't afford to pay" isn't a legal defense to a lawsuit. If you are sued, there is a self help center at the RJC where you can get free help to complete the forms, but if a creditor obtains a judgment they can garnish 24% of your paycheck & attach any money in your bank to cover the debt, plus legal fees & court costs. Hope this perspective help!
If, and only if, they get a judgment, they can garnish a quarter of your paycheck and seize non-exempt property (which most people don't have in Nevada).
They can also report derogatory information in the meantime.
As discussed by my colleagues, debt collectors utilize 3 standard collection techniques: they call, they report the debt on your credit report, and they sue. Generally, they only call and credit report the debt. If you owe enough, they believe you have assets of some sort, and/or have a job (so that they can garnish your wages), then the account might be placed with a law firm that will try to sue you. It's only after the law firm sues you and obtains a court judgment that they can start garnishing your wages or lien your house (if you have a house you should homestead it).
From what you've described, it sounds like the account is still with a non-attorney debt collection company. The most the collection company will do is call and credit report your account. You should contact an FDCPA attorney to evaluate the collection activities. If the collection agency has violated the FDCPA, the attorney might be able to negotiate a better deal and get you up to $1,000. Keep copies of all letters. Write down the following information about each phone call: the date and time of the call, the name of the person you spoke to, the name of the collection agency, and what was said. You should also have the attorney review the lease to determine if you really owe $1,600.
FDCPA attorneys such as myself do not charge for representation; we get paid by the offending debt collection company. If you have any questions or need further information, you can email me at email@example.com. I'm happy to provide free advice.
I know this situation is frustrating. I would call the collection company again and offer to pay the $80.00 per month. Tell them the name of the manager you spoke to and request that they communicate with that manager to see if they will except this type of payment arrangement because it is the best you can do right now and explain why. Collection companies usually want a large chunk of money up front because they take their fees for servicing the debt for the company (your apartment complex).
If they will not budge, the creditor can get a judgment against you (by suing you and winning in small claims court) or report the debt to your credit report. Should the creditor decide to (1) sue you in small claims court, you will be required to attend a mandatory mediation, as long as you answer their complaint (if sued, you can visit the Justice Court's website for all the steps you need to take if you are a defendant). At that mediation, you will have the opportunity to propose to pay the $80/month. If they accept it, it will become a binding agreement. If they do not accept it, you will have an informal hearing in front of the judge that could result in a judgment in their favor for $1,600 + any fees. They must get a judgment before they can garnish any wages from your job.
However, the creditor may not sue you since the amount in small and may just report the debt after a certain time period on your credit. If they report it to your credit, it will remain there for 7 years and could effect jobs where your credit report is reviewed as a factor in hiring you. However, the employer must meet Assembly Bill 331. This bill prohibits a person from procuring a consumer report for purposes of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee unless: (1) the use of the report is required or authorized by state or federal law; (2) the person reasonably believes that the consumer has engaged in specific illegal activity which is likely to be reflected in the consumer report; or (3) the information in the report is substantially related to the evaluation of the consumer’s likely performance of the duties of the particular position for which he or she is being evaluated.
I hope these explanations help you. Good luck in negotiating with the collection company.