Last month, my employer received a letter from a collection agency. The letter read as follows:
"This letter certifies that I have this day served the Non-Party and the Defendant, by US Mail with a copy of this "POST JUDGEMENT REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS"; CASE NO. 12345678 seeking the deposit of the following documents in the United States mail by regular with adequate postage in a properly addressed envelope in c/o Sue Smith, address of collection agency: 2012 W-2 for Defendant, Pay stubs for past 3 mos for Defendant, Address on file of the Defendant
At the time the letter was received, I knew NOTHING ABOUT THE CASE nor did I receive a copy of the letter due to a change in address. However 3 weeks later, a process server showed up with a notice in hand regarding the case referenced by the collection agency in the letter to my employer.
Days after being "duly served"; I received a solicitation from the creditor to settle the debt for substantially less than the amount owed ... which I elected to accept.
The settlement was finalized today without court action or a judgement of any kind. I am happy to have the debt behind me but a bit steamed over the letter the collection agency sent to my employer.
If I understand the FDCPA correctly, a debt collector cannot contact an employer employer, except as part of a formal service of papers to achieve remedy a court order garnishment or judgement.
Assuming my interpretation is correct.... Did the collection agency violate the FDCPA by intentionally misrepresenting to my employer that a judgement existed in a case in which the DEFENDANT had YET TO BE served and NEVER EVER HAD a scheduled court date??????
3 Answers from Attorneys
It sounds like you're completely off-base.
A "POST JUDGEMENT REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS"; CASE NO. 12345678" is part of (actually a follow-up) to a court proceeding and is a formal court document.
So the answer to your question, based on what you posted, appears to be no.
If the document says its post-judgment that means judgment was already entered against you. While you may have known nothing about it, judgments still can be entered. I would be curious as to how the law firm achieved service over you - it could be that a complaint was left at your old address and the occupant accepted the papers. If so, then technically you have been served. Service does not need to be made on your personally if the papers are left with an adult at your residence assuming you still lived on the property. If you had left, the occupant should not have accepted the papers but if they did, then the law firm would not know and would assume there was proper service.
Post-judgment papers can be served on your employer because GA allows for wage garnishment. However, why would a collection agency be sending the papers and not the lawyer for the creditor? Collection agencies are not lawyers and cannot engage in discovery, even if they are a party, as most collection agencies are corporations and cannot represent themselves.
Something is not right here. If I were you, I would start by going to the county where a judgment was allegedly rendered and look up that case to see what was filed. The court file should contain not only the summons and complaint but also a return of service and should indicate how it is that you were served.
If there was truly never any judgment and no court case, then the reference to "post judgment" discovery is misleading and would be an infraction of the FDCPA for which you could sue the collection agency. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are only permitted to contact third-parties for the purpose of acquiring location information about you. If a judgment was entered, the FDCPA does not apply. A creditor is allowed to engage in post-judgment discovery to uncover assets/resources to pay the judgment.
If it was a bogus "judgment" referenced in the document, and you had a claim under the FDCPA, the next question is whether you released the claim in the settlement agreement.
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