Maybe there are no more debtors’ prisons, but that doesn’t mean your life can’t be screwed up by unscrupulous collection agencies.
Sonya Capri Ramos says her Salt Lake City home was sold out from under her in 1996 to pay a collections agency seeking payment for dental work performed on one of Ramos’s daughters. And despite the fact that she had made three years of payments on a $51,000 mortgage, the title changed hands for just $1,550 at a sheriff’s auction.
The bill blew up to $950 from legal and collection fees, and in 1996 she was sued by a collection agency named North American Recovery. She didn’t contest the lawsuit—she claims she was never notified—and the judge ordered that some of her non-exempt real property should be sold to pay off the debt. “But because the real estate at stake was Ramos’s home, which by law is considered ‘indivisible,’ the title to the entire property was sold at auction,” to a company called Jarmaccc Properties—which has refused to give her back the title, even after she paid them the $1,550 through a bankruptcy restructuring in 1998.