If I have a hearing at a Magistrates Office with a credit debt for $5000.00, can they take my car.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Why is that your question? That is totally the wrong question.
The correct question is, do you have a defense to make sure that a judgment isn't entered against you? The answer is probably yes, in that collection agencies trying to collect credit card debt seldom file these matters correctly (in compliance with the rules) and seldom have the required back-up documents which are required by the law.
You should contact an attorney who has experience defending collection actions such as this to help you. Very often, once an attorney is involved who understands what is required, and challenges these actions properly, the credit card company will withdraw their complaint against you.
They are counting on you either not showing up or not defending this. Once you defend, it will often go away.
If you wish, you may contact me to discuss this matter, as I am experienced in defending this sort of matter.
There is no exemption for a car in PA unless you file bankruptcy. However, if the car is financed or owned jointly with another, then the answer is probably not. Even if the car is an older model car and owned free and clear, it still is probably safe. It costs money to have the sheriff seize, store and sell something like a car. If the sale is not going to bring enough to cover these costs and to give the creditor a profit, the creditor is not going to do it.
Creditors don't want your stuff; they want money and the other important question is what about your bank account? PA allows you to exempt up to $300 in any one bank account. There is no real limit if you get exempt income like Social Security, unemployment, worker's compensation or some other similarly exempt property. Links to the exemptions can be found at 42 PACSA Sections 8123 and 8124.
You still need to figure out what you are going to do about the debt. If you have other dischargeable debts, consider filing bankruptcy. If you have valid defenses/objections, then it may make sense to litigate. Don't delay; you only have 20 days to file an answer to the complaint. The 20 days starts on the day you received the answer. Litigation makes sense where the debt is either barred by the statute of limitations or where the debt has been sold to the original creditor by a junk debt buyer. Junk debt buyers often cannot prove its your debt as noted by Attorney Pascal.
Or it may make sense to do nothing depending on your circumstances. If you have no valid defenses/objections then spending money to litigate will not result in anything other than a judgment being entered against you. If you have the funds, it may be possible to resolve the debt for approximately 50% of what is owed - but it could be more or less.
If you are interested in resolving the debt in a non-litigation non-bankruptcy context, please email me at rachelforjustice.com. If you are interested in litigating, then get up with an attorney in your area specializing in credit card defense. Attorney Greg Artim here at Law Guru is in your area although there are others like Attorney Pascal. Many attorneys give free consults and I would take advantage of that. If you are interested in bankruptcy, then see a bankruptcy attorney. Many bankruptcy attorneys also give free consults.