I love that scene in Sudden Impact where Clint Eastwood says to the bad guy,
“Go ahead. Make my day.”
I know that some people get so frustrated with nasty debt collectors that sometimes they just want to face them off Clint Eastwood style. However, in the state of Georgia, this is a bad idea.
Georgia state laws give a creditor some serious leverage against you. In Georgia, a creditor can garnish your wages, seize money from your checking account, put a lien on your house, and take your car away from you if it is paid off.
In this blog post, I would like to focus on the judgment creditor’s option of taking your car. I have been practicing consumer bankruptcy for fifteen years and I have not seen many creditors go to the trouble of taking someone’s car. To my surprise, I have recently seen an increase of creditors going after cars. Perhaps the internet has made this an easier option than it has been in the past.
As a general rule, the first legal step that a creditor will take against you is obtaining a judgment. Don’t ignore this situation or you could end up getting unpleasantly surprised. After the judgment is obtained, the creditor will the get a FIFA from the court who issued the judgment. The creditor can then perfect that lien against your car which could allow them to repossess it. The Forsyth County website does a great job of summarizing this process.
Just this past week, I received a call from a potential Atlanta bankruptcy client who lost her car in this fashion. In her situation, her car was paid off. She thought that no one could ever take her car away from her. She worked hard to pay off the debt on the car.
However, a few years ago, a creditor obtained a judgment against her. She thought that since it had been a few years, the creditor was never going to do anything against her. Unfortunately for her, her judgment creditor crept up on her and took her only source of transportation. Welcome to Georgia!
The good news for Georgia consumers is that Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 can help protect you from past judgments and eliminate judgment liens.
If you have some old judgment creditors, take care of the problem. Go meet with a local bankruptcy attorney and let them review your entire situation. Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 might be just what you need to keep a judgment creditor from sneaking up on you.
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