My mother has credit card debt she can't pay. Both parents are on social security and live in a home that was left to me and my brother. The cc companies are calling and threatening her even telling her it's going to get turned over to the county she lives in in Georgia. What can they acuatly do
3 Answers from Attorneys
If she has no assets and little income they can't do much, although without details I cannot say that for sure. They can make her miserable. Depending on the details, she may be best served by bankruptcy, or may have other options.
I'd be glad to have her consult further with my office. My number is 404-768-3509. With details I can probably help her eliminate the harassment, and possibly even eliminate debt.
There is so much that your parents can do. First of all, they must keep all dun letters they receive from the debt collector (including the envelopes); if possible, buy them a recording device and have them record the harassing telephone calls. Keep a log of each time they call, the date and time, the name of the collection agency, debt collector, the name of the creditor, account number, and what the collector said during the call. For instance, "my client is going to turn this over to the district attorney because you're a fraud", or some nonsense like that. Your parents have valuable legal rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act, and Georgia’s Unfair Deceptive Practices Towards the Elderly Act. So, there are many ways that an experienced consumer lawyer can protect your parents from this debt collector’s unfair deceptive acts and practices, and at the same time vindicate their legal rights in the process.
The fact that they told your mother that they were going to “turn the matter over to the county” is reason enough to get a consumer lawyer involved. I am a Georgia consumer lawyer. For more information about my law firm visit kaidenlaw.com and contact me directly.
I agree with the sentiments of the other attorneys. Regarding thre house, its not important that it is left to you and your brother. What is important is who is on the the title now? Is it in your and your brother's name? Or is is still in the name of your parents? If its no longer in the name of your parents, then its safe. If it is in the name of your parents, is it mortgaged or owned free and clear?
Its important to know. You ask what will happen. The usual progression is that once debts become delinquent, they get sent for collection. Sometimes they get bought by junk debt buyers but they are still in collection. After a few years, then the debt ends up with a law firm in Georgia who will sue and get a judgment against your parents.
Social Security is exempt from any garnishment or levy for a credit card debt. However, in order to preserve the exemption, Social Security funds must be direct deposited (unless your parents have the funds put on a deposited to a debit card - I know Social Security was rolling that out and I don't know if they have started in Georgia yet for people who do not designated a bank for direct deposit). The Social Security funds cannot be mingled with non-exempt funds or commingled with the non-exempt funds of another person. If the creditor gets a judgment, they can be given notice that the only money comes from Social Security and its off limits.
Wages can be garnished, but that is not likely an issue if your parents are retired. Creditors with judgments look for the "low hanging fruit." In other words, they want money and the easiest ways to collect are wage garnishment and bank account levy. If these are not viable avenues, then the creditor will look for other assets that are owned free and clear, like a house, other real estate or a car. So how are these assets titled and is there a lien (a mortgage on the land or a car that is still being financed?)
If the assets are already subject to a lien or the assets are not in the name of your parents, then there is absolutely nothing that the creditors can do. Sure, they can get a judgment, but they cannot collect on it and your parents would be judgment-proof.
A lawyer can stop the harassment for a fee as noted by Attorney Kaiden. Your parents need to stop the harassment NOW. While bankruptcy may be a viable option, if your parents truly own nothing and are judgment proof, then they should not go to that expense. It will be far cheaper to get a consumer attorney who specializes in the fair debt collection practices act and other laws. And it sounds like they have already violated the law. If a violation is shown, your parents can recover attorney fees and damages under the act.