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Miami residents who went bottom up in the recent mortgage crisis and who wound up with underwater mortgages and had to walk away may just now be getting back on their feet. Most may assume that the worst is over and they can begin again on surer financial footing.

Unfortunately, they could be really wrong in their assumption. Even though the banks and mortgage holders took possession of the homes long ago, they may have been unable to sell them for enough to cover the loan amount when coupled with legal bills, fees and penalties associated with the foreclosure process.

The burst housing bubble caused lending institutions that in the past allowed debtors to be off the hook legally for these costs to seek out deficiency judgments against the borrowers. Armed with these judgments, debt collectors are pursuing the former homeowners with zeal, shaking them down with asset seizures, wage garnishments and frozen bank accounts.

Consumers who have relocated their families into new homes, found employment after long layoffs and even paid off some debts are suddenly thrust into their old worst nightmare — having to make payments on costs associated with a house that isn’t even their own any longer.

Consumer advocates say that the blame for the financial collapse should be borne by the banks, who issued the unsustainable loans to consumers in a shaky economy.Being faced with a process server bearing litigation demanding sums of money that can run into five and even six figures years after moving on is shocking to most people. What is unfathomable is that if the debt collector wins the suit, the debtor can kiss their bank account goodbye, along with any paid-off vehicles and still be subject to up to a 25 percent wage garnishment.

It’s enough to sink anyone into the pits of despair. But you don’t have to take a deficiency judgment lying down. You can fight them back in court.

Source: Huffington Post, “Debt Collectors Harass Americans Even After They’ve Lost Their Homes To Banks” Michelle Conlin, Oct. 14, 2014