Q: My wife had several credit cards that she was paying on when we were dating. She eventually became unable to work due to her mental illnesses and has been unemployed for over a year now. As a result, she was unable to make her credit card payments. Today, she received a notification that she has a certified letter at the post office from “Court”. She is assuming that this is serving some lawsuit against her but the largest debt she had from any creditor was less than $2000. She is mentally unable to handle stress like this. She has not been able to work for over a year, has harmed herself in the recent past, and has no property or any money to speak of. What should we do in this situation? We have asked to have the letter redelivered tomorrow. (North Huntington, PA)
A: I am sorry for your situation. However, your wife’s unemployment or mental health will not be a defense to credit card debt. My advice is if she owes the money and you can afford it, pay the credit cards that haven’t sued her yet. Perhaps you can call and negotiate a lower payoff. As far as the one who has sent her mail, you need to take the papers to a lawyer for a consultation. If this mailing from the “Court” is a Civil Complaint, you need to answer it in 20 days or she could lose by default. The attorney may advise to pay it, or may assess whether she has a defense or not. Many credit card claims are defensible, for example, there is no contract or the original contract has not been properly assigned to the present creditor. If the credit card debts as a whole are not able to be satisfied at this time, you may want to talk to a Bankruptcy attorney.