Kari Fiotti moved back to Omaha, Neb., in 2009 after a decade living in Italy. She had divorced her husband and returned to the U.S. to start a new life.
Then, Fiotti, 44, took a pricey fall.
“When I came back, I fell and I broke my wrist without insurance,” she says.
Her doctor, she says, rejected her offer to make partial payments. So, like millions of Americans, her debt — which had grown to $1,640 with interest and fees — was turned over to collectors.
Fiotti soon learned how hard they would try to collect her unpaid bills.
Court records show that the collectors sued Fiotti, but that she didn’t show up in court for the hearing about her case.
In May of last year, Fiotti suddenly realized, “My bank account’s at zero and I’m like, whoa, what’s going on?”
Debt collectors had seized her bank account because she didn’t have enough to cover the debt. Fiotti says she was stunned. “You’re taking everything that I have,” she says. “You’re not just taking a portion of it, you’re taking my livelihood.”
Fiotti says she was doing clerical work making about $10 an hour. She had a kid in college and no savings. She says she had to overdraw her checking account just to take out $50 to buy groceries. In the end, a friend put Fiotti in touch with a lawyer, and she now has the debt behind her.