I recently had a judgement appear on my EX CR. This account was opened in 2001 and was filed by the court in 2003. Just recently I started repairing my credit and disputed a few things. 5 yrs later the court decided to report this judgement. Any suggestions on getting it removed?
it is in fact accurate, I'm just curious why they waited 5 yrs to report it for the 1st time on my CR. You think a GW letter, or possibly a simple phone call would get it removed? It was paid off in 03' and is showing paid.
Cody - I'm going to paste here the response I gave to another poster about a utilities judgment. Some of this will apply to your situation. The short answer to the question about why it didn't show up until now is that some creditors wait until the statute of limitations is about to run out and then they file their lawsuit; you don't hear about it because by then you've moved from your "last known address" and have completely forgotten about the debt because the creditor didn't sell it to a collection agency. And you've probably signed something that said you'd accept service of process by mail. In your absence, the judgment was granted. If the creditor is not a public utility company, you may have a chance to do something about the actual judgment -- for example, you need to ask the creditor's lawyer to supply you with copies of everything you signed in connection with the debt to see if the fine print actually says that you accept service by mail rather than service of process (in person). If you didn't sign any such agreement, then you may be able to have the judgment voided because of improper service; on the other hand, getting it before a judge may simply cause him to void the prior judgment and issue a new one (and yes, the judge can do that). But in any event, you definitely need a lawyer to do this. There is no other way to remove the judgment from your credit report; court records cannot be deleted because they are paid; they stay on the record for 10 years. Your only hope to get the item removed is to get the judgment voided, and realistically, that is going to take 3-5 years and cost you thousands of dollars in attorney's fees and court costs. Good luck.
You have two different issues: FICO score and public record.
There's nothing you can do about the FICO score except to pay off the judgment. While it is true that you can dispute it, as long as the judgment stands by the Court, there won't be any movement and the court will not agree to a pay for delete.
I bet this is what happened: You didn't pay your bill and you kept getting these letters from "lawyers" telling you that any information they collected could be used against you. After a while, you started ignoring these letters (they weren't real lawyers anyway, right?). You think they forgot about you. I can tell you from experience that utility companies never forget about you. They have plenty of in-house lawyers who do nothing but go after people who don't pay their bills -- it's the only option they have since they are prohibited by law from denying service. (They can ask you for a big deposit the next time you need their service, but they can't deny you service.)
So, the in-house lawyer files paper at the county court at law and says that you haven't responded, files an affidavit of your last known address, and you get one more notice sent to you. You have probably made their job easier by moving from the "last known address" so you don't get the notice. You probably signed some document when you first got service wherein you agreed to service by mail as opposed to service by process. Twenty days later, the in-house lawyers stands before the judge and you're not there. You get a judgment against you in abstentia for the amount, plus court costs, plus attorney's fees, plus interest, and the in-house lawyer promptly files an abstract of judgment with the county clerk where it is recorded in the county property records, and reports it to the credit bureau where it will stay for 10 years (even after payment and filing of a release of lien).
Because you weren't there for the actual court date (in absentia), you get 30 days to appeal the judgment. After the 30 days, the judgment is final. Judges are very sympathetic to utility companies, so don't expect a miracle (you'd need something like brand-new DNA evidence to get you out of the judgment, some kind of evidence of wrongdoing that would get the prosecuting attorney disbarred). You should probably hire your own attorney and see for yourself if there is anything you can do, but this is one of those problems that you write your congressman about and then move on with your life. The judgment -- like a bankruptcy -- stays on your credit bureau reports for 10 years and -- unlike a bankruptcy -- is renewable every 10 years. And the utility companies hire plenty of paralegals who do nothing but re-file abstracts of judgment with county clerks every 10 years to ensure that the judgment stays on your credit bureau report.
Why do utility companies do this (unfair) thing? Because they know in the end you are going to pay the judgment. You are going to pay the judgment because no mortgage lender will allow you to purchase a home with an outstanding judgment. Judgments and tax liens absolutely have to be paid before you can get a mortgage BECAUSE if you default on your home mortgage, payment of the proceeds of any foreclosure will go first to payment of the judgment, then tax liens, and then mortgage lender. That's because the judgment is first in line for payment (older debt than the mortgage) and tax liens are always paid off before foreclosure proceeds are disbursed. Therefore, no mortgage company will give you a mortgage until you first remove these obstacles to the mortgage company getting all of its money back. And if you sell your home, by law you must repay the judgment before you can receive the proceeds of the sale. (If you don't obey this law, and the utility company finds out, the utility company can file suit against you and take everything you own.) And the courts enforce these laws because utility companies are monopolies in the public interest and receive favored treatment. (But courts generally give favorable treatment to anyone who has a judgment against a debtor; utility companies get the best treatment.)
So, yes, judgments are a very bad thing to have in your credit file.
Which brings us to the second problem you have, but may not know you have. The utility companies know that you will pay the judgment sooner rather than later because of employee background checks. If you haven't applied for or changed jobs in the last three years, you are probably not aware of this new trend in the labor market: extensive background checks. I found out recently that when you apply for a new job, you are asked not just to agree to a criminal or credit background check, but also to a civil background check. This was news to me. Now, your entire civil history (divorce, custody, car accident lawsuit, and, yes, even judgments for bad debts) can be pulled and reviewed by your potential employer. The last thing you want a potential employer to see is that you are a "dead beat" -- not meaning that you are one (believe me, I understand), but that's what many people think when they see a judgment for a bad debt.
If you are serious about disputing the judgment, you should hire a lawyer real fast. If you are thinking of buying a home or changing jobs soon, you should pay off the judgment as soon as possible. If you have time, you may want to think about paying it off slowly. But don't think that a utility company will let the judgment slide into oblivion -- trust me, it's on someone's calendar to be renewed. And it can never be deleted from the credit bureau report just because someone accepted your payment any more than you would expect the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to delete a bankruptcy reporting because you'd been discharged.
Finally, before you hand over any money in payment, make sure that you get a "release of lien" from the utility company -- an even exchange, you hand over the money and they hand over the release of lien. Then run to the county clerk's office and get the release of lien filed right away. Once you've done this, the judgment will still be on your record, but it will be on your record as paid.