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Old 09-29-2011, 08:31 AM
 
2,654 posts, read 2,634,829 times
Reputation: 1430
Default Judgement? How to find out what it is?

We recently ran my husband's credit score. He received a Social Security number for the first time roughly a year ago, and I wanted to make sure that everything was okay.

To our surprise, there is a judgement listed for ~$3,500, entered 1/2006. We have no clue what this is. My questions are:

1. How do we figure out where the judgment came from (ie, who entered it) and what the terms were? We went through the last few years of files and bills and we have no idea what this is.

2. He owns a business - is it possible that this is a business related debt (We don't have any outstanding business debt either, but just another angle) that was transferred against his personal name? Can that happen?

Thanks for any help. This was a huge surprise to me, and with a new SS# I was looking to help build up his credit since we will be applying for a mortgage in the next several months and this is a huge blow.

Any tips/help you can offer is greatly appreciated. All I can find when I look up judgments is that it's basically one of the worst things that can deteriorate your credit.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:38 AM
Status: "Character is what you do when no one is looking..." (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: San Antonio/Houston
20,116 posts, read 19,843,115 times
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You can write to that credit report bureau and ask/dispute.
Here is contact information:
Credit Bureau Contact Information - Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
Good luck!
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Lincoln, CA
504 posts, read 815,260 times
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Judgments are usually entered in your local court - Superior or Municipal. You can find out quickly by checking the docket number found on your credit report. Usually it's a series of numbers and letters. Once you have a docket number you can just call the court and find out the fees to get a copy of the judgment. They charge like $5 or $10 for a copy and you'll have to physically come down to court with your ID to get it. The same thing happened to my sister a year or so ago. She had a lien slapped on from a second mortgage from a short sale that was later paid, but they never filed the removal of lien. It took a lot of work to get the lien off (even though she had proof that it was paid off). After they get paid, they creditors don't really seem to care.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:01 AM
 
2,654 posts, read 2,634,829 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddiesgirl View Post
Judgments are usually entered in your local court - Superior or Municipal. You can find out quickly by checking the docket number found on your credit report. Usually it's a series of numbers and letters. Once you have a docket number you can just call the court and find out the fees to get a copy of the judgment. They charge like $5 or $10 for a copy and you'll have to physically come down to court with your ID to get it. The same thing happened to my sister a year or so ago. She had a lien slapped on from a second mortgage from a short sale that was later paid, but they never filed the removal of lien. It took a lot of work to get the lien off (even though she had proof that it was paid off). After they get paid, they creditors don't really seem to care.


Thanks - this is helpful. I think there was a docket number it in the credit report. I'm just confused. His SS# is new, he's never had a loan, mortgage, anything. He has debit cards, not credit cards.... We really want to know what it is! I'll go this route and see what I find. Thank you!
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:08 AM
 
15,505 posts, read 4,252,769 times
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How do you get a new SS#?
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:10 AM
 
2,654 posts, read 2,634,829 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freemkt View Post
How do you get a new SS#?
You become a permanent US resident and receive one for the first time. Previously he had an ITIN that he used for taxes.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Ohio
10,108 posts, read 5,304,110 times
Reputation: 5739
Quote:
Originally Posted by mc33433 View Post
We recently ran my husband's credit score. He received a Social Security number for the first time roughly a year ago, and I wanted to make sure that everything was okay.

To our surprise, there is a judgement listed for ~$3,500, entered 1/2006. We have no clue what this is. My questions are:

1. How do we figure out where the judgment came from (ie, who entered it) and what the terms were? We went through the last few years of files and bills and we have no idea what this is.
The credit report should so state. There's a number listed, that is the book and page number where the judgment is recorded. Any names listed are most likely the name of the county where the judgment is recorded.

You might be able to go on-line to that county's clerk of courts website and find the judgment information there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mc33433 View Post
2. He owns a business - is it possible that this is a business related debt (We don't have any outstanding business debt either, but just another angle) that was transferred against his personal name? Can that happen?

Thanks for any help. This was a huge surprise to me, and with a new SS# I was looking to help build up his credit since we will be applying for a mortgage in the next several months and this is a huge blow.

Any tips/help you can offer is greatly appreciated. All I can find when I look up judgments is that it's basically one of the worst things that can deteriorate your credit.
You need to get on this immediately.

It sounds like an erroneous reporting. You can try to dispute the judgment with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it, but most likely nothing will happen.

No court in the US reports judgments, liens, bankruptcies or other prejudicial information to credit reporting agencies. That is done by a 3rd Party. There are people who do nothing but hang out at county court houses and collect information for private use. Since those are public records, that is perfectly legal. Originally, there were a number of small companies that did that, but Hogan bought them out, and then eventually Lexis-Nexis bought Hogan.

Lexis-Nexis and Choicepoint are both credit reporting agencies in addition to the 3 traditional credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian). The information they report is considered "gospel" (ie infallible) so the CRAs will probably blow you off on the first dispute. If you dispute a 2nd time, they might actually contact Lexis-Nexis, but if the error is there, it won't come then either. You'll have get an attorney and sue under the Fair Credit Reporting Act like I did.

The case law in Johnson v MBNA (4th Circuit Court of Appeals) is quite clear. There, the panel of three judges actually pulled out a copy of Webster's dictionary and looked up the word "investigate" so you have case law on your side.

I had an erroneous judgment that result in my credit limits being lowered by Crapital One and Providan (who no longer exists). When I went to buy airline tickets, both cards got declined. When I called, I was given the runaround ("Your credit limit was reduced because you were over limit" which makes no sense since I wasn't over limit). I refused to pay the over-limit fees, and then because I refused, they also tacked on late fees, which I refused to pay. Both cards were eventually charged off and sold to junk debt buyers. I got $2,200 out of Asset Acceptance for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Protection Act and NCO ate the other credit card and nullified the debt to avoid being sued by me. That's of little consequence since my credit rating was damaged in for several years.

After a year of the stupid game, someone suggested I get a copy of my credit report, and when I did, it had the judgment listed. I called the Jefferson County (Ohio -- and I had no idea where that was) courthouse and harassed those people for 6 months to the point that they were begging me to call, write or personally visit them ever again.

I went to an attorney who happened to be across the river in Bellvue, Kentucky and on a hunch, he thought it might be Jefferson County, Kentucky (Louisville). He was right. Turns out it was a judgment for property taxes. I have never owned property in the US and had never been to Louisville.

So now I have a letter from the Jefferson County Clerk of Courts stating that the judgment is not mine and should be removed and Equifax removes it, but Experian and Trans Union refused to remove it, so I sued them and settled for $6,000 plus they paid my attorney's fees.

You might have a long road ahead of you.

Anyway, the credit report should list the county, and the book and page number where the judgment is recorded. Call the county court house and tell the clerks what you're doing. They will look it up for you if you can't find it on-line and give you the details. You will probably have to physically go to the court house, present identification and show them your credit report, and they will give you a letter signed by the Clerk of Courts, and you can send that with your dispute to the credit reporting agencies.

Whenever there is a potential for legal action, I strongly urge people to avoid using the on-line e-mail dispute system for a number of reasons.

I know on-line is easy, blah, blah, but that is ignorance talking. Print up or hand write a letter and mail it to each credit reporting agency certified mail return receipt requested. Yes, it's a few bucks, but it is a paper trail and it is legal documentation for court action.

What people don't understand is that when you use e-mail/on-line disputes, you open up your computer to something called "Electronic Discovery."

So if you don't want to lug your computer to the office of a strange attorney and have strangers rooting through all the files on your hard drive and reading all of your personal things and having access to your e-mail accounts and reading all of your personal e-mails, then I suggest you hand write/print a letter and send it snail mail.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Huntington, NY
7,459 posts, read 9,625,256 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
The credit report should so state. There's a number listed, that is the book and page number where the judgment is recorded. Any names listed are most likely the name of the county where the judgment is recorded.

You might be able to go on-line to that county's clerk of courts website and find the judgment information there.



You need to get on this immediately.

It sounds like an erroneous reporting. You can try to dispute the judgment with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it, but most likely nothing will happen.

No court in the US reports judgments, liens, bankruptcies or other prejudicial information to credit reporting agencies. That is done by a 3rd Party. There are people who do nothing but hang out at county court houses and collect information for private use. Since those are public records, that is perfectly legal. Originally, there were a number of small companies that did that, but Hogan bought them out, and then eventually Lexis-Nexis bought Hogan.

Lexis-Nexis and Choicepoint are both credit reporting agencies in addition to the 3 traditional credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian). The information they report is considered "gospel" (ie infallible) so the CRAs will probably blow you off on the first dispute. If you dispute a 2nd time, they might actually contact Lexis-Nexis, but if the error is there, it won't come then either. You'll have get an attorney and sue under the Fair Credit Reporting Act like I did.

The case law in Johnson v MBNA (4th Circuit Court of Appeals) is quite clear. There, the panel of three judges actually pulled out a copy of Webster's dictionary and looked up the word "investigate" so you have case law on your side.

I had an erroneous judgment that result in my credit limits being lowered by Crapital One and Providan (who no longer exists). When I went to buy airline tickets, both cards got declined. When I called, I was given the runaround ("Your credit limit was reduced because you were over limit" which makes no sense since I wasn't over limit). I refused to pay the over-limit fees, and then because I refused, they also tacked on late fees, which I refused to pay. Both cards were eventually charged off and sold to junk debt buyers. I got $2,200 out of Asset Acceptance for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Protection Act and NCO ate the other credit card and nullified the debt to avoid being sued by me. That's of little consequence since my credit rating was damaged in for several years.

After a year of the stupid game, someone suggested I get a copy of my credit report, and when I did, it had the judgment listed. I called the Jefferson County (Ohio -- and I had no idea where that was) courthouse and harassed those people for 6 months to the point that they were begging me to call, write or personally visit them ever again.

I went to an attorney who happened to be across the river in Bellvue, Kentucky and on a hunch, he thought it might be Jefferson County, Kentucky (Louisville). He was right. Turns out it was a judgment for property taxes. I have never owned property in the US and had never been to Louisville.

So now I have a letter from the Jefferson County Clerk of Courts stating that the judgment is not mine and should be removed and Equifax removes it, but Experian and Trans Union refused to remove it, so I sued them and settled for $6,000 plus they paid my attorney's fees.

You might have a long road ahead of you.

Anyway, the credit report should list the county, and the book and page number where the judgment is recorded. Call the county court house and tell the clerks what you're doing. They will look it up for you if you can't find it on-line and give you the details. You will probably have to physically go to the court house, present identification and show them your credit report, and they will give you a letter signed by the Clerk of Courts, and you can send that with your dispute to the credit reporting agencies.

Whenever there is a potential for legal action, I strongly urge people to avoid using the on-line e-mail dispute system for a number of reasons.

I know on-line is easy, blah, blah, but that is ignorance talking. Print up or hand write a letter and mail it to each credit reporting agency certified mail return receipt requested. Yes, it's a few bucks, but it is a paper trail and it is legal documentation for court action.

What people don't understand is that when you use e-mail/on-line disputes, you open up your computer to something called "Electronic Discovery."

So if you don't want to lug your computer to the office of a strange attorney and have strangers rooting through all the files on your hard drive and reading all of your personal things and having access to your e-mail accounts and reading all of your personal e-mails, then I suggest you hand write/print a letter and send it snail mail.
What great advice! Thank you for posting such detailed instructions. I will be sure to save this for future clients
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:58 AM
 
2,654 posts, read 2,634,829 times
Reputation: 1430
Mircea, THANK YOU for taking the time to write such a detailed response. I immensely appreciate it, and I am going to take your advice. I just wrote snailmail letters last year to all the CRAs informing them of the new SS# replacing the ITIN to confirm everything was linked. So I have no problem with writing letters again. I thought he might have lower credit due to lack of history but never expected anything like this! Thank you!
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:31 PM
 
2,654 posts, read 2,634,829 times
Reputation: 1430
Okay, well as an update...

I was able to find my state Court online search engine and looked up my husband's name. I found the case (his name is spelled wrong) and that provided me the index number and the "disposed" status (Filed in 2005, disposed in 2007.).

With this index number, I called the county civil court. They had no more information other than my husband's name and the lawyer's name. The civil court transferred me to the records room to request the file from archives so that we could get additional information. The records room looked up the index number and said they don't even see a judgment associated with the record. They said they would order the associated documents to see if there was more information since the record is old and sometimes information "Drops Off".

They also gave me the plaintiff attorney name - when I googled them, it appears they have been sued multiple times and accused of actions such as filing judgments without ever serving an individual....

I feel like I have a lot of digging to do ahead of me.

Do I contact the attorney that was involved? The records room said it will take 4-6 weeks to get the file from the archives for us to come in and review.
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