Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Virginia

With a judgement against me, can they take my vehicle?

I had a credit card that I couldn't pay. The company has obtained a judgement against me. I don't own a home or anything. In trying to re-establish credit, just a few months ago, I got a loan on a vehicle. My name is the only one on the lien. I owe $4300 on the credit card and $12000 on the vehicle. With having this judgement against me, can they take my vehicle? If so, how likely is it that they would do this? Also, since I've had the credit card, I've changed jobs and banks. How easy would it be for them to get my information? I know several people who have had judgements placed against them for credit cards, but none of them have ever been garnished for that type of debt. I know that by law they can, but do they not typically garnish for credit card debt? Do they garnish only for the principal amount, or do they take interest, late fees and all? I appreciate your time.

Asked on 11/08/06, 2:55 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael E. Hendrickson Attorney & Counsellor at Law
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Re: With a judgement against me, can they take my vehicle?

The credit card company will usually sell the defaulted debt to a collection agency which will then undertake to locate the debtor and any assets which may be available for garnishment(wages),levy(bank accounts)or other seizure and sale. However, beofre initiating such enforcement action, the collection agency must first obtain a valid judgment against you through appropriate judicial process. And then they may garnish/levy for everything that they can get up to the total amount owed which can include not only the principal and late fees(if included in the judgment) but all applicable interest that has subsequently accrued on the judgment.

In regard to your vehicle, if your name is the only one on the title and not the person or entity which gave you the loan for the vehicle,

then you are the sole owner of record and the collection agency could also initiate enforcement measures against this vehicle(most likely a Sheriff's seizure and sale or auction of the vehicle)with the proceeds applied to the debt.

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11/08/06, 3:22 pm
Jonathon Moseley Office of Jonathon Moseley
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Re: With a judgement against me, can they take my vehicle?

In terms of the vehicle, I suspect that the lender's name is on the title along with yours. That is the typical practice. So a creditor would have a very hard time seizing and selling the vehicle because of the lender's rights in the vehicle. Creditors typically sell vehicles in a process that in my opinion is a JOKE and a SCANDAL in which the vehicle does not receive a sale price of what it is worth.

Since the car lender already has a lien on the vehicle itself -- assuming this is properly recorded in the vehicle records with the state -- the credit card company would be in 2nd place. THey would have to completely pay off the $12,000 loan in order to sell the vehicle. Because of this, they are not likely to do it.

In terms of the credit card company finding you, when you applied for credit to buy the vehicle, you almost certainly reported your current job. That was almost certainly reported to the credit bureau and your credit records updated with your current employment, current address, etc.

THerefore, a credit check might easily reveal where you are working, unless you have changed jobs since you applied for credit with the car lender.

Garnishing your paycheck comes under rather strict rules. They cannot take all of your paycheck.

However, there are almost no restrictions on garnishing your bank account.

If they discover your bank account, they could take ALL of the money in your account, leaving you with no money to pay rent.

You should be careful to have enough cash on hand to pay the rent, so that you do not get evicted. It happens all the time.

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11/09/06, 1:07 pm

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