When a person or a company sues you, this process normally involves your being served with a Summons and Complaint. The complaint names you the defendant and the person or company suing you is the plaintiff. Based on the court where the plaintiff files the complaint, you have a certain amount of time to answer the complaint. If you were served with a complaint but ignored it or failed to appear in court, the judge will most likely enter a default judgment against you in favor of the plaintiff and the plaintiff wins by default. Since a judgment is public record information, the credit bureaus can report this information on your credit report for seven years from the filing date of the complaint. Depending on the amount of the judgment, the plaintiff may garnish your bank account and wages. The sooner you find out if there is a debt judgment against you, the sooner you can develop a plan to deal with it.
Checking For a Judgment Against You
Go to the AnnualCreditReport.com website to get your three credit reports – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get each credit report for free once a year. If you already ordered your free credit reports for the year, contact the credit bureaus to determine the cost of a credit report in your state. Call Experian at 888-397-3742, Equifax at 800-685-1111 and TransUnion at 800-888-4213.
Review each credit report to determine if a debt judgment has been reported. The beginning of the credit report lists public record information.
Go to your local courthouse and request a judgment search under your name. The court clerk must provide public records on anybody you inquire about. The court normally charges a nominal fee for a copy of the records.
Check the National Center for State Courts website that provides public access to court records. Go to your state's link to determine if you can get access to judgment filings.
Many court systems provide a free judgment look-up. Make sure you have the correct name of the person or entity when you search judgment records. You can open an account with KnowX.com, an on-line database that includes public record information for many areas of the U.S. Before you open an account, determine whether the area where you need to search provides records to KnowX.