Debt collectors have recently started trying to send people to jail for being in debt in Minnesota.
These are usually for credit card debts, but can also be anything from mortgages to medical debts also.
Debtors’ prisons were abolished in the US over 100 years ago, but the debt collectors have again found a way to make the courts do their work for them.
How do debt collectors try and send people to jail for being in debt?
To do this,
- The debt collector goes to civil court to obtain a judgment, which normally entitles them only to collect against the assets of the debtor
- The debtor is then ordered to tell the debt collector about their bank accounts and other assets
- If the debtor doesn’t give this information to the creditor, then the judge can find the debtor in contempt of court for ignoring the order
- A judge can then issue an arrest warrant for being in contempt of court
This means that although you can’t go to jail for being in debt, you can be jailed for failing to give information to a creditor.
Can anything else happen?
What is more, although creditors are generally supposed to serve you with a summons and complaint before they can get a judgment, this does not always happen:
- The creditor can get the judgment without your knowledge
- After the creditor gets the warrant, the police can arrest you, or if they stop you in traffic and see the warrant, they might take you to jail
- Once you go to jail, the judge will probably set bail at the amount of the debt
- If you post bail, then the money will go to the creditor
So in effect, some debt collection companies have found a way to bring back debtors’ prisons.
Is there anything you do about it?
Two ways to fight back against this are by:
- Showing up in court when the debt collector gets a judgment, or
- Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy
If you go to court, you will have to give them your bank numbers, and the creditors will probably use that information to take the money in your bank account, but they won’t be able to find you in contempt of court.
If you file for bankruptcy relief then the judgment and many other types of debt will be wiped out, and the arrest warrant will stop.
If you’re worried about going to jail for being in debt, then we might be able to help you.
Simply call 612.724.4357 now and tell us what you need us to do.
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