By: Robert J. Nahoum
Once upon a time, as a fresh-faced lawyer right out of law school, I worked as a debt collection attorney. Fortunately, not long after I found some religion and flipped – I am now (and have been for some time) committed to protecting consumer against debt collectors. So, with that background I am going to let a few dirty little debt collection secrets out of the bag.
Debt collection attorneys are in a never ending search for the path of least resistance – a default judgment. Once the judgment is entered, New York debt collection law allows them to freeze a bank account, garnishee your wages and even sell your property. Here are some of the tricks they use to get that default judgment:
Anyone who has spent any time in a court hearing debt collection cases would be amazed at how little gets accomplished. Of the 150 or say cases that may be on the calendar that morning only a fraction will see the judge. Most of the other cases (if not settled) will be adjourned to another date.
If a debt collection attorney cannot get a self represented debtor (called pro se) to settle the case, he will undoubtedly want to adjourn. That courtroom is their office – that attorney (or someone else from his debt collection mill) will be in that courtroom every single day with dozens of cases on the calendar, the pro se consumer will not. If he can adjourn your case, he hopes that you won’t show up on the adjourned date. The result – a default judgment!
Nominal Monthly Settlement Payments
Oh how generous – the debt collection attorney has offered to settle your debt collection case for payments of only $20.00 per month. How do they make any money with payments of only $20 per month you may be asking? They don’t, what they really want is for you to miss a payment because if you do, the result – a default judgment!
Confession for Judgment
You are broke, out of work, on social security, disability, unemployment – you tell all this to the debt collection attorney. He comes off moderately sympathetic – he tells you he understands your plight, he’s your friend, he says “friend, why go through this anymore? Rather than fight, why not just sign a confession of judgment and go home, after all, you’re judgment proof, there’s nothing I can take from you.” The Result – a default judgment!
Friends, these guys think they are smart and you are dumb. They want to try and exploit this position of superiority to manipulate you into doing something that’s against your best interest. Don’t let them do it, fight back!!! Make them prove their cases – at the end of the day, they probably can’t.