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Question
Wondering if you can lend some advice. I had a credit card that I could no longer pay on once I was laid off in 2010. In Jan 2012 I talked to them about a settlement- I asked them to call my father on the phone as well so I could get his advice before agreeing because I absolutely don't trust anything they say- so, my dad was on the phone and heard the terms of the settlement. I agreed to it and then made 3 payments over the next 6 weeks. That was it. Na´ve, I know. Now. I never had to settle any debt before so I thought that was it.

About 4 months later they started sending statements again and I let them know I wasn't happy to be hearing from them since I had settled...now, it appears they sold this debt to another company who has hired a law firm. They've called me and I refuse to talk to them. I do everything in writing now so today I received a letter detailing the original debt and indicating I have 30 days to deny validity of the debt etc.

What should I do? I paid the original creditor a settlement and apparently they turned around and sold it as though it were outstanding. I don't have anything about the settlement in writing- just my bank statements and my dad.

Thank you, Kathy

Answer
In order for the new creditor to collect, they need to sue you in court.  Presumably, if they did that, you would defend with your Dad as a witness.

I would write a detailed letter in response, stating when and how the settlement came about, who it was with (names/addresses/ phone numbers), how much you paid and how.  Basically, it should be the complete story that you would tell in court if you were sued.  You should make photocopies of your bank statements, and you should note that your father is a witness to the entire conversation.  You should have your father sign the letter and state that he would testify to having heard the settlement agreement.  Be as accurate and complete as you can, and save a copy of the letter and all the attachments in a safe place.

That's all you can really do.  You didn't say if the original creditor were local or not nor where the law firm or the new creditor are located.  If one of the parties were local, you could sue it in small claims court for a determination, but that's probably not worth it.  By the way, you didn't tell me how much was involved.  If it's a relatively small amount (under $2000, say) it's hardly worth going to all that trouble.

In other words, all you can really do is demonstrate that you'll fight if sued and that you have credible evidence.  If they do sue, you can present your letter to the court to show that you aren't making anything up -- and your Dad can testify.

Hope that helps.

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Michael T. Hertz

Expertise

I can answer most questions concerning bankruptcy, whether business or personal, including questions by debtors, creditors, persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcy estates, and the like. Also have expertise in tort law, French and Canadian law.

Experience

Practiced bankruptcy for 27 years in California and taught bankruptcy for three years in Maine. This included Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 cases, representing debtors, creditors (secured and unsecured), bankruptcy trustees, creditors committees, and persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcies. Debtors included persons with virtually no money up to large corporations.

Organizations
Inactive member of the Bar of the State of California. Nonpracticing member of the Bar of Massachusetts. Formerly member of the Maine Bar and conseil juridique in France. Certified by National Committee on Accreditation in Canada.

Publications
Georgetown Law Review; California Bankruptcy Journal; Maine Law Review; Dalhousie Law Journal; University of Toronto Law Journal.

Education/Credentials
Harvard Law School (J.D. 1970; cum laude) and Pomona College (B.A., 1967; cum laude)

Awards and Honors
Selected as a "Superlawyer" in 2005 and 2006 for Northern California.

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