Overdue debts will not send you to jail.
Please repeat: overdue debts will not get you jailed.
Yet it is disturbing how many people fear that not paying their debts is criminal and might land them in jail.
Relax: America abolished debtors’ prisons some 250 years ago.
The related fear is that a frustrated creditor can unilaterally put a lien on their assets.
If you don’t pay
There are still legal consequences if you don’t pay your debts, but the consequences aren’t criminal.
Your creditors can sue you and get a judgment against you. To get a judgment, they have to file a lawsuit against you, in the right court, and serve you with notice of the suit.
That’s what due process is all about.
What to do if you’re sued
If you appear in the action, by filing a written answer, a trial on the suit is required, unless the parties settle.
A creditor with a judgment can then enlist the power of the state to help them collect the judgment.
Other consequences of unpaid bills
Even if you haven’t been sued, debt has consequences: calls from collectors, worry about who to pay, damage to your credit record.
The stress of being in debt should not be glossed over. Stress kills.
And if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stupid. Yes, stress depresses your intelligence.
Those negatives often last longer than the life of the debt in question.
If this is your situation, get some help. Consult a reputable credit counseling agency. Make an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer.
Find out what your options are.
But don’t worry about jail.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.