Woman’s paycheck garnished for old, paid debt

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Joyce Smith keeps her records and receipts. That saved her from an even bigger headache than the one she had.

Last month she discovered her paycheck was being garnished for an old debt she’d paid off long ago.  But she says the debt collectors weren’t listening.

“Hey, listen. You owe this from 1998, now you prove to us you don’t owe it.”  That’s the way Joyce described their attitude.

Back in the late 90s, she’d gotten into trouble running up her Discover card. She lost her job and got sued.  But after she got back on her feet, she worked out an arrangement with the law firm collecting the debt, Mel S. Harris, to pay everything off for $3,200.  She gave the cash to the New York City marshal handling the case and got a receipt.

Unfortunately, it appears the firm didn’t file the settlement with the court.

“Well they’re now telling me that now the total balance owed with interest is more than $6,000.” That’s the message Joyce says she got when she called the firm now going after the debt, Kirschenbaum & Phillips, LLC.  They were the ones garnishing her paycheck for about $120 a week!

So Joyce contacted us. She had one big factor on her side: she still had her receipt from the city marshal in 2004 saying the debt was paid in full.

We contacted Kirschenbaum & Phillips.  Attorney Elliot Phillips got right back to us. We sent him Joyce’s receipt. He checked with the marshal. And within an hour or so he sent us an email saying in part, “We are closing our file, as well as the income execution, and having the payments received refunded to the consumer.”

Joyce’s headache was over.

The lesson here: save your receipts!

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