BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When a Baton Rouge woman answered a knock at her door earlier this month, she was shocked to see city constables standing outside.
She was even more shocked to see the two other men who were with them; an attorney and a man who had loaned her money 13 years before.
They were at her home with a court order, allowing them to enter her home to search for anything of value they could seize to satisfy the woman’s outstanding loan, plus interest.
The woman, who we’ll call Julie, contacted WAFB for help in determining if what happened was actually legal.
It turns out, it is. Julie took out a $1,434 loan from a loan company on Foster Drive in 2007. She made a few payments over the years but admits she did not pay most of the loan.
With accrued interest, the outstanding loan balance is now over $2,800.
After 13 years passed, she thought the loan had long been forgotten about, until that knock at the door.
The debt collection attorney who was present had a court-approved seizure notice, known as a “fieri facias.” That is the order that allows a debt collector to legally enter a home and search for items that can be seized to pay for the outstanding debt. Julie says the men proceeded to look under her mattress, through her dresser drawers and even inside her refrigerator.
While she says they ultimately did not take anything, the debt collector told her this should be proof they are serious about recovering the money.
The law clearly spells out which items can and can not be seized.
Things like televisions and cell phones can be seized but other items cannot.
For example, they can not seize a wedding or engagement ring worth less than $5,000 or any “tools of the trade”. For example, they could not seize the tools that a plumber might need to do his or her job.
During any such seizure, a law enforcement official must be present.
An attorney who deals in debt collection but is not connected to this particular case tells WAFB such seizures are very rare. However, as Julie found out, they are not unheard of.