When a debt collector sues a consumer, the consumer has to
answer that lawsuit by following the instructions on the Summons
that is served. But here are some pitfalls and pointers:
- Make sure the case is
handled. It is one thing to
settle the debt, but there is still a lawsuit out there with your
name on it. What is going to happen to it now that you struck
a deal? The collector may still want to have a judgment
entered in case a payment is missed on a payment agreement.
That would allow them to immediately garnish wages or take assets
without having to go back to court. It is best to argue for a
dismissal of the case. A dismissal “with prejudice” means the
case is dismissed forever, and there is no right to bring the
matter back to court. A dismissal “without prejudice” means
that the case can be brought back for reasons such as
non-payment. If a payment agreement is being made, it is
highly unlikely a collector will agree to dismiss a case with
prejudice. Dismissing a case without prejudice is a happy
medium that allows the collector the right to go back to court if
you don’t pay, but gives you peace of mind knowing that the case is
currently dismissed and will stay that way as long as the debt is
being paid. Either way, you cannot ignore the lawsuit.
- Get any agreement in writing. These
collectors handle dozens of lawsuits a day. It is not
surprising if something slips through the cracks. Whatever
deal is worked out, get it in writing from them. Most
importantly, get how they will handle the court case in
writing. If the case will be dismissed, make sure that it
says so on the document they give you.
- Follow up on that case. Despite
what they promise you and give you in writing, follow up to make
sure they did what they promised with the court case. Get a
copy of the dismissal order if the case is being dismissed.
If a conditional judgment is entered, get a copy of it. Don’t
rely on their comments to “trust” them – that “everything is all
fine”. All too often we have seen consumers think they worked
out a deal for their case, but later found themselves having to
face a wage garnishment.
SmithMarco, P.C. helps consumers defend lawsuits and settle
their debts in a way that is fair and economical. Contact us
for a free case review.