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What Happens if I Can't Pay the Debt Collection Agency?

I am 60 years old. I live in the state of Texas. I am disabled. My only source of income is SSI. I am also on Medicare. I have lung cancer.

Today I received a letter from a collection agency for a debt that I owe 2 years ago. It's about 0. I cannot pay that amount. I don't own anything valuable. I live with my wife but my name is not on the house title, only hers. What can happen to me?

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6 Responses to “What Happens if I Can't Pay the Debt Collection Agency?”

  1. Jackie
    October 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Nothing much can happen to you if you make a token offer, even one dollar a month. You can only get in trouble if you say "I'm not paying it." They will probably refuse your token offer but a court will accept it.

  2. shimmeringcupcake
    October 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    You can get sued for not paying. Try to call and work out a payment plan. Usually they will work with you because getting some money is better than getting nothing from the bill collectors point of view. Also if you do not pay they will keep tacking on interest and the debt will only increase. Bankruptcy is your only option but even that is expensive since you would need to get an attorney.

  3. Nelson
    October 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    They can take you to court & then you may have to pay legal fees, but rarely would they go to that much trouble for so little. I wouldn't pay them a dime. It could & probably would affect your credit though. Unless you are worried about your credit, I say pay them nothing. I went through the same deal after a divorce & the only one who really went after me was the one for thousands. It is very unlikely that they will do anything to you, $400 isn't worth the trouble. Harassment is what it is. Tell them flat out, I don't have it! Legally all that they can do is take you to court & try to get their money.
    They are more then likely not going to go to that much trouble for $400.........

  4. Flower
    October 14, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    You owe a debt and they are trying to collect. They dont want monthly payments but most collectors will settle the debt for around half of what you owe. That way you can stop worrying about it. If you ignore them, they will keep pursuing you for some money. My advice since I am in the same boat is to send them a judgment-proof letter. You will find a sample on line.They generally dont pursue court actions if you have no assets or income. But as what happened with me, is they turned it over after a few years to another collector and started the process again. It would be simpler to settle it. For such a small amount they may not bother filing a lawsuit. They might just write it off their books. Is this a joint debt? If so, they will try to garnish her income. They cannot legally garnish your SSI unless this is a government debt like taxes but I think you can still be exempt from garnishment.

    Check out the SSA Q&A webpage link, scroll down to the last question and answer.

  5. Alex
    October 14, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Flower has it right! Even if you did have assets, it would cost them more than $400 to file a lawsuit to get at them. Research settling debt online because there are lots of caviats; the big 2: always get settlement offers in writing and never give them access to your bank account (via transfer or personal check).

    Since the account went to collections, it's a negative mark on your credit score which will stay for 7.5 years after payments stopped. If you plan on taking out a loan or cosigning for someone else during that time, you might be denied if this account hasn't been settled.

  6. beetman rosman
    August 3, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    “P.S. no opinions dipshits, just tell me why you think you can be your own "United State of Texas".--- You are asking for an opinion, but demand no opinions?? Amazing. You must the smartest one in your class.

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