As you check your credit report, you may notice that there are several public records or judgments posted that seem to have a major impact on your credit score. You may already know what to do to properly handle credit card debts, mortgage loans and even medical expenses. However, the question that may resonate within your mind is, “How do I resolve filed judgments against me on my credit report?”
Before you can focus on the resolution process, you should first learn about the overall process of how the judgement was filed in the first place. With most debt (such as medical expenses and credit card debt), it will essentially pile up as your creditor reports your account activity and payment history directly to the creditor.
However, that is not exactly how it works with filing judgments. To get a judgement approved, a creditor must first get a court involved. If you lose the case or simply do not respond to the summons issued to you, then the creditor will win, and the court will issue a judgment on their behalf. Since it is processed through the bank, that is what makes it a public record and may cause your credit score to plummet.
What are your options after a judgement has been filed? What can be done to resolve or even reverse that type of public record?
As referenced above, the creditor or collector is the one who starts the process of filing judgments against you by filing the necessary paperwork in court. Therefore, the best person for you to talk to at first to get a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind the judgment is the actual creditor. Do not hesitate to give them a call to receive an overview of what led to their decision to file an official judgment.
This direct contact with the creditor could very well lead to a more beneficial discussion – such as the decision to reverse what was done with the court or the necessary steps that you must take to at least resolve it if it cannot be undone.
It is theoretically possible to reverse filed judgments. Since the court processes the judgment, you can simply return to the court and request a reopening of the judgment. This is much easier said than done as most courts are typically programmed to move on from cases once the order has been finalized by the judge. However, you can still file a formal appeal with the court to have the judgment reopened.
If it is not practical to have the judgment reopened, this does not mean that it is the end of the road for you. You can still request to have the terms and conditions of the judgment altered to soften the blow that it forced onto your credit report and overall financial status. In some extreme cases, your judgment may even be discharged if you are approved for a bankruptcy to clear the slate. The extent of what can be done and how the court may or may not be able to intervene is something that you will want to discuss one-on-one with an expert consumer attorney that specializes in handling these types of cases.
In addition to the possibility of reopening or even modifying judgments, there is also the opportune option of settling judgments. There are quite a few cases in which the debtor simply the money does not have to repay their debt. It is nearly impossible to collect the debt through wage garnishment if the debtor hardly makes enough money within their regular paycheck. In addition, it is pointless to focus on repossessing or relinquishing assets from a debtor who hardly has any assets at all. Therefore, the concept of settling judgment may be viewed as music to the ears of the standard creditor – especially if they have already exhausted other options. In these instances, judgment creditors are likely eager to work something out with the debtor to essentially meet in the middle.
For instance, if you have access to a lump sum of money (such as from an inheritance, annual bonus check, lottery winnings or borrowed loan from friend or family member) then you may want to present it as a bargaining chip to your creditor and/or collector. The creditor may decide to reduce the amount of owed debt to match what you have available from your inheritance just so that they can finally close the book on your account and move on.
If you are eager to settle a judgment, it is imperative to remain cautious and careful – especially if you have decided to go through with it. The last thing that you want Is to accept impressive terms for a settlement opportunity to resolve judgments against you just to have it backfire on you due to the lack of verified documentation to support your claims. This typically occurs when perhaps the creditor offered a deal that he or she was not allowed to offer. Or, you may have received a promotional offer for a settlement opportunity in the mail that has since expired. Having documentation handy will at least allow you to spark a conversation with the appropriate people to determine the next steps to take in this process.
The best approach to handle judgments against you in today’s world of consumer debt is to avoid having judgments filed against you in the first place. As referenced above, the creditor or collector is the one who starts the process and forwards the necessary paperwork to the court. Therefore, if you want to take a preemptive approach, you should focus on collaborating with the creditor beforehand. Chances are that they will be more than willing to work with you to develop a payment plan or other arrangement that will keep all parties happy without forcing their hand to file paperwork with the court.