(WSVN) – A South Florida woman was involved in a car accident 20 years ago. Why is she still struggling with a debt catastrophe? Karen Hensel of 7 determined.
Many South Floridians live paycheck to paycheck. But Veronique Nesmith says she’s not even getting her entire paycheck.
Veronique Nesmith: “It touches me very much. It touches me, I can’t even tell you.”
She is responsible for thousands of dollars caused by a car accident that happened almost 20 years ago. She only found out last year when she started a new job and her salary kept getting tight.
Veronique Nesmith: “Almost $400, about $300, and a few dollars.”
When she asked about it, she found out that her wages had been garnished.
This is the actual court order sent to her employer.
It is said that in 2006 a judgment was entered against her for $14,801.91.
Veronique Nesmith: “I literally broke down.”
Veronique learned that the debts were being collected by a collection agency.
Veronique Nesmith: “So when I called the company, I spoke to the young lady and she said to me, ‘Oh yes, it’s a car that you owned in the 1990s,’ but this vehicle had one Accident and I have received documentation showing that the GAP insurance covered the balance of the vehicle.”
Veronique says she had papers showing the car had been paid off, but she threw it away years ago.
Veronique Nesmith: “So I actually tried to get in touch because the financial company came to mind. So I called this number and then found out they weren’t even in business anymore.”
7 Investigations revealed that the finance company has gone through two changes of ownership and the current owner cannot locate Veronique’s records. However, at some point in the last 20 years, her account was handed over to a collection agency.
Veronique Nesmith: “And if it’s something I’m responsible for, at least give me the opportunity to do it. And I was not given the opportunity.”
Veronique claims she doesn’t remember receiving any court orders about the debt in the mail.
The collection agency told 7News that it sent a letter to Veronique’s address on January 24, 2020.
She added that she called her four days later and “discussed settlement options”…but “didn’t follow up…”
Veronique Nesmith: “That didn’t happen. I’ve only spoken to them once, after finding out that the attachment may have happened in September 2022, but haven’t spoken to anyone before.”
We told Veronique’s story to bankruptcy attorney Patrick Cordero. He says many people don’t realize they’ve been sued until years later.
Patrick Cordero: “And things like garnishments, confiscations of assets, garnishments of other salaries happen, and you can’t deal with them.” It does happen, but most people recognize a responsibility.”
According to Cordero, there are ways to avoid a garnishment that you can’t afford. The most likely option is filing for bankruptcy.
Patrick Cordero: “We protect your assets, your car, stop the seizure and give you a fresh start.”
He and Veronique work together to figure out the next step.
Veronique Nesmith: “Oh, it makes me feel good because I honestly thank you for getting me to this point in the first place.”
She hopes that the help she gets will finally put an end to her debt crisis.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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