I have a judgment on me, how do I find out who I owe?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Contact the attorney who obtained the judgment, it should be on the paperwork from the court and ask what it would take to have the judgment satisfied.
Depending on what it is, they may be willing to satisfy for less than the full amount or it may be the full amount plus interest from the judgment date.
Get a copy of the judgment and/or complaint. In there should be listed the name of the attorney who obtained the judgment or the name of the plaintiff if they did not use an attorney. Call the person whose telephone number is on there.
What Attorney Brown says is correct. Most creditors (but not all) on average will be willing to accept between 50% and 80% of whatever the balance is on the judgment as of the time you call. The judgment earns interest in PA at a rate of 6% per year and I do not know when it was entered.
Most creditors (again, it depends on the creditor here) will offer a lower settlement amount if you can pay in a lump sum. Even if you don't quite have the full amount but enough for a down payment, see if they will settle the debt, let you make a downpayment and payoff the balance of the settlement in 1-12 pays and still give you the same deal. Some creditors refuse to give you a deal at all if you want to pay in installments. In such case, for PA clients, I recommend that the clients keep saving until they have the settlement amount rather than make monthly payments on the full balance. However, it depends on your assets and circumstances, which I don't know. Assuming you want to do payments on the full amount, most payments are between 1% and 2% of whatever the judgment is as of now (or when you make the call). While I don't know the judgment amount or what you can afford, I recommend that you pay at least enough to cover the monthly interest and something on the principal. If you want to do something like $25 a month, while I understand and commend the desire to pay, you need that $25 more than they do so keep it and keep saving rather than pay $25 a month.
Regardless of which method you use, get a settlement letter from them BEFORE you pay them a penny. There is no such thing as "good faith" payments. They don't apply good faith and neither should you. So get in writing such things as the full balance, the settlement amount if any, to whom you make payment, where you make payment, acceptable methods of payment, the due date of each payment and that the judgment will be marked satisfied with a zero balance when your last payment is made. I don't like check by phones - use a money order or cashier's check and make a copy of each payment before you send it. Keep your record of payments FOREVER.
The satisfaction MUST be filed with the court. It generally costs $10 to file this. That is the fee charged by the courts. Some creditors will not pay the fee. In such cases, get the creditor to send you the satisfaction directly and you file it and send them a copy that is stamped with a time-date stamp from the court. If they file, get them to send you a time-date copy. Depending on the creditor and where they are located, this can take a few weeks. Keep the satisfaction of judgment FOREVER.
I say forever as you never know what will happen - papers get lost, creditors might go out of business. Or you might want to refi your home (or buy one if you do not have one now) and your credit report is not updated. If you have all of the proof it will be much much easier for everybody and you will not be in the position of not being able to prove that you paid and having to pay again.
I give free email consults if you would like to discuss the specifics of your case in confidence. If interested, you can contact me at [email protected]
If you would prefer to have counsel, I also settle debts and work out the logistics of getting a settlement letter (and reviewing it) or satisfaction of judgment for a reasonable fee.