Not My First Rodeo

I had an old debt thrown out of small claims. Before I executed my (almost Neo-like) litigating kung fu that resulted in the more recent goals achieved in federal court, I totally disarmed a savvy attorney who thought that he had my number.

I was in a period of reform regarding my credit (I mean, I had a family after all) with my attempts at resolving the latent results of my irresponsible early 20’s. I was now on my goal of “pulling a 720.” I pulled my credit report and went through it line by line. Any old items that were nearly aged out, I let them do so. Bills that had been “resuscitated,” were disputed. And, any of the small, dumb ones that shouldn’t have gone that far in the first place was negotiated off. This system of mine had worked so good, that within a few months, I raised my credit score by over fifty points. Every year I would do the same thing. I was on top of my game.

One day… I get a summons in the mail. I learned that it was from a creditor. Sometimes, a finance company will cut their loss and sell a debit to a collector, who are supposed to specialize in recovery. But, in the rare occasion, that doesn’t happen. And so, the debt is sold to yet another collector. This can happen multiple times, as what appeared to be my case. Having learned the hard-knock lesson of not ignoring these kinds of things (from a garnishment or two), I prepared for trial. I wasn’t necessarily planning on fighting it, more so than just showing up.

However… I did a little research.

That was all the effort required to raise the question in my mind, “Wait, who was the original creditor?” I traced that question back as far as I could go on my reports, to which I noticed that there was a possibility this debit was actually stone age.

At the court, as I waited to be seen before the judge, I noticed an attorney who remained as plaintiff despite subsequent (and very commonly, unrepresented) defendants. This was who I would eventually come face to face with. Interestingly, he worked the multiple cases that were obviously brought before the court with an impressive measure of efficiency. Most, if not all of them, wanted nothing more than to reach some kind of agreement; to which he fully agreed. He’d take them to some back room before coming back out alone moments later, ready to take on another one.

Finally, it was my turn. I was, perhaps, ready to follow the path of the other defendants, save for satisfying one little thing… “Your Honor,” I began, “I have no intentions of disputing the validity of this claim. I do, however, raise the question of who the debt originally belonged to; including the date of default.” The latter of which was the most important. See, no matter how many times its bought by another, more aggressive creditor, when a debt reaches a certain age, that’s it. The judge may or may not have known that, none of the defendants may have known it, the attorney certainly did.

We went into the back room where, undeterred, the attorney insisted I agree to the “reasonable” settlement offer. After I insisted, based on law, to provide such information as was mentioned earlier, he huffed and then said that he’d get back with me.

I’m still waiting on that call…

I guess I could’ve been intimidated by all things related to the court and its system and  thereby signed anything that was thrown at me, lest I spend forever in jail and be penniless. But, of course, that didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, it was because I’d courageously used the law to my advantage that I wound up having to not pay what I consider a debt that isn’t truly mine.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll win this relatively larger case with as much of an ease as the last occasion, but the common denominator remains consistent. If there was an injustice affected upon you, and you had no one but yourself as an advocate, all it takes it a little research of the laws and a little more courage to present your theory before the court. Many a person (myself included) have prevailed, where others conceded.


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