Calls from collection companies are horrible, no matter whom you owe or how much you owe. Debt collectors call you demanding money now, and often call multiple times each day. These calls are certainly annoying and stressful, but sometimes the calls get downright scary. Some collectors even threaten that if you don’t give them a credit or debit card number right then, that a police officer will be sent to arrest you. So you pull out your wallet and make a payment, usually taking money away from more pressing needs such as rent or grocery money. But did you know that you can’t be arrested simply for not paying the collectors when they call?
However, it is important to pay attention to unpaid debts and any paperwork you receive regarding such debts. Because if one of your creditors goes through the right process, you can be arrested for failing to follow court orders.
In Utah, in order to garnish wages, take money from your bank account, or seize your personal property, a creditor first has to get a judgment against you. Even then, the creditor cannot have you arrested for not paying the judgment, but a judge can have you arrested if you ignore the judge’s order to appear in court on the judgment. The process typically looks like this:
- You can no longer afford to pay on a debt – maybe due to job loss, reduction in hours, or similar circumstances.
- The creditor starts sending letters and calling you, but you can’t afford to pay so you ignore those letters and calls. When the creditor can’t get hold of you, they hire an attorney and a lawsuit is filed.
- A constable or other process server comes to your house and drops off papers, called a “Summons and Complaint”. You still can’t pay the debt, so you ignore the court papers.
- Since you did not answer the Summons and Complaint, the creditor automatically gets a judgment against you. You receive a copy of the judgment, but again since you can’t afford to pay the debt, you ignore that too.
- If the creditor still cannot get hold of you to get payments on the judgment, they will schedule a court hearing and if you ignore that and don’t show up to court, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest for not showing up in court.
If you are having trouble paying your bills, and are receiving collection calls and/or court papers, call Mountain View Law Group at (801) 393-5555 today and schedule your free, initial consultation with an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney. We can help you before the process gets to the point where a warrant for arrest is issued!