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How to deal with an aging Judgment accruing LOTS of interest?
A judgment was entered against me--in my absence--in April of 2010. I didn't know about it until wage garnishments began in September of 2010. I was beyond the 30 day timeframe given to make a response to the court. I had just been laid off from my full time salaried position that summer and had just begun a part time hourly position with the same employer. That meant they were garnishing from what was already an unlivable income. Between being laid off and discovering this additional challenge, I was overwhelmed. I figured I had no recourse, because, it seemed, the bad guys always win. Today, I am very interested in reclaiming my financial world and taking back the reins on my life, but I still am not sure what the best route for dealing with these opportunistic heathens might be. I no longer work for the employer through whom the garnishments were being collected. I have been working as an independent contractor since leaving there, so I am not subject to garnishments, but I am also not able to get fully on my financial feet since that mark on my credit has taken such a toll.

My very first major credit card came with a $3500 limit and was a store Visa, issued by Bank of America. Ultimately, B of A and that store ended their contract, and B of A sold its credit accounts to Chase.

This is where confusion ensued.

There was some miscommunication, billings were muddled, and I ended up getting behind on a payment. I contacted Chase, and they gave me a pay-by date and told me I would be caught up and squared away if I paid the bill by then. When I called to make that payment--a few days ahead of that date--they told me that they had sent the bill to collections. This was in 2003.

Subsequently, the bill was placed with an outside collector and was later sold. In 2006, a debt buyer was able to bully me into making some payments on the account (...and how I wish I knew then what I know now! Further, I never would have allowed them to bully me...I was really down at the time, a single mom, and struggling with limited employment while trying to go to school)...That, of course, re-aged the debt. I don't have records to show those payments, unfortunately, but I had paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200 to $1800 on a bill that, before interest began accruing was under $3000 (and, of course, they would have paid far less than that as a debt buyer, so they had more than made their money back, I am sure). I stopped making payments as I ran into financial hardship.

The next step was learning about the judgment by way of wage garnishment. It has been handled by a law firm--noted all over the internet as being a ruthless and unscrupulous lot--on behalf of a debt buyer.

At this point, the debt is listed as a $3596 judgment on my credit report. This clearly does not reflect the payments I did manage to make. The interest accrues at an exorbitant rate, and the current due is something in excess of $7000 now. I haven't heard from them, but I assume they will rear their ugly heads about the time this judgment becomes eligible for renewal, so they can wreak havoc for another 10 years.

If I could go back in time, there are so many things I would have done differently. But I am interested in figuring out the best way to go forward from here. I can't afford to pay these 'attorneys' anything like what they would be demanding. I would rather not go the bankruptcy route, as I am rebuilding my credit and am otherwise on a fairly short route to recovery and a bright future.

I don't want to call the attorneys to negotiate anything without having all my ducks in a row and knowledge in hand. Anyone with wisdom and experience have a recommended course of action?

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