I jumped up and down at my wife with glee, explaining what just happened. She was happy, but couldn't quite appreciate my inner joy over what just occured. I scratched my head thinking who might understand. I realized this is the place, because a sincere thank you is needed.
In 2003, I was served with a lawsuit for medical debts. The hospital was unwilling to accept the amount we could send each month, wanted more, and had apparently lost its patience with us. At that point my wife and I decided bankruptcy was our best and only option.
I found CB some time after bankruptcy while I was trying to figure out secured credit cards. It was here I learned about judgments surviving BK. After doing my research, I confirmed we had a judgment and it had been recorded as a lien on our property prior to BK. I contacted an attorney and with their help filed a motion to avoid the lien through the BK court. That process took several months but eventually the order was entered and the lien was avoided.
Fast forward to last month. We are refinancing our home due to the record low interest rates. The cost saving is astounding. Everything was proceeding fine until I get a call.
Lender: "We have a demand for payment from a judgment lien"
I provided as much paperwork as I could think of to the lender, but their title department was apprehensive. Days dragged into weeks while they "researched" and refused to give the go ahead for the loan. What was there to research, I wondered? Today I got frustrated and took matters into my own hands. I obtained from the lender the demand for payment from the collector and set to work. First call, the collector making the demand.
Me: "Did you know you are collecting on a judgment that was avoided?"
Collector: "Judgment was from before BK, so you have to pay it."
Me: "Um... no, I avoided the lien. I'd like to provide you with a copy of..."
Collector: "Let me stop you right there. You need to contact *****. She is our legal team and can answer all of your questions."
Now I get the number of the attorney and the case number from the collector. Call to the number.
Me: "Hello, may I speak to *****?"
Attorney's office: "In regards to?"
Me: "Case number ***** for *****."
They put me on hold for a bit. Then I'm told this person is out of the office. Not to be delayed, I turn to Google. Sure enough, the attorney has an email address advertised on the firm's website. My email to them for your reading pleasure, and with some added commentary by me.
I had hoped to speak with you directly but you were out of the office. While I await your call back, I wanted to give you a quick heads up via electronic mail.
I was in the process of refinancing my home when the title company reported ****** had made a demand for payment on a judgment lien. They provided me a copy of the fax sent by *****. This came as a bit of a surprise to me as we filed to avoid this lien through our bankruptcy case.
I contacted ***** today because I am hoping this demand for payment is an inadvertent mistake. (Note from me, an honest clerical error has no consequence, so I am offering them a quick way out!) I spoke with someone named ***** and tried to explain the situation, but she referred me directly to you. I am attaching the order avoiding the lien that was part of my bankruptcy case ***** in the COURT NAME. I am quite certain you have access to electronic records and can verify the lien was properly avoided.
I look forward to discussing this with you in more detail today. I would also like the opportunity to provide a more complete copy of the court records and the subsequent payment demand from ***** to you via certified mail.(Note from me, subtle indicator that I am going to build a paper trail.) I can be reached at ***** at your earliest convenience.
About ten minutes later I receive this response:
Thank you for your call and email. I have confirmed that the lien of ***** was avoided in your bankruptcy. My client will fax your title company a notice that they may disregard the payoff figure previously provided. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact ***** directly.
For CYA, I send a quick follow up:
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you could let your client know the fax should go to:
[ lender contact ]
The fax should indicate that nothing is due and the previous payment demand was made in error. Itâ€™s a bit time sensitive to me. I would hate for the mortgage interest rates to go up while this is holding up the process.(Note from me, another subtle indicator I am thinking about actual damages I might incur.)
Seconds later, a second response from the attorney:
Thanks for the contact information. ***** has already sent one fax to the number they had on file, but will confirm the number and will send to the one below if it is different.
Clearly, the attorney understands what I am thinking and what needs to happen. Ten minutes after this exchange, I was contacted by the lender with news that the title was cleared and we could proceed with closing. So now the thank yous. Thank you to CB for giving me the knowledge about judgments and BK, and especially about lien avoidance. Our original bankruptcy attorney certainly didn't explain it. Thank you to CB for giving me some sense of the right things to say and how to say them, so I can write a letter in my own words instead of needing a template. Most of all, thank you for giving me the confidence in these matters that I could tackle the situation head on. Once upon a time, the thought of calling someone's attorney would have been far too intimidating.
It now seems I won't have to pursue the collector for a collection attempt after a bankruptcy. It also seems they won't get a dime from me, and I am all set to save tens of thousands in my refinance.