Being Sued for a Debt – Review Your Options

You are being sued for an old debt.  What should you
do?  Justice _scaleYou are overwhelmed and need some
advice. 

Why are you being sued? 
The purpose
of the lawsuit
being filed by the creditor or collector’s
attorneys is because they ultimately want to seek a judgment
against you and then garnish
your wages
or attach to certain assets of
yours.  

What happens if I ignore the
lawsuit?   

If you ignore the lawsuit, you will be held in default and a judgment
will be entered against you.  Once the creditor or collector
has a judgment, they will be able to garnish
your wages
or bank account. 

What are my options?

Can you afford a lawyer?
Many consumers make the assumption that hiring and paying for a
lawyer to defend a lawsuit is far too expensive.  You don’t
know this until you ask.  There are many law firms out there
(SmithMarco, P.C. for instance) that
would be willing to help a consumer in this situation, and would be
willing to work out a reasonable fee and an easy payment
option.  The money spent on a lawyer can save hundreds or even
thousands more that could be paid to the creditor.

Respond to the lawsuit
Read the summons and complaint carefully.  See what you need
to do and if there are any deadlines.  If you have questions,
call the clerk or seek local counsel or legal aid.  Each court
has different rules and procedures.  Make sure you follow the
court rules.  Keep copies and if you mail any written
document, mail it certified mail with receipt. 

Review your defenses
The three most popular defenses include:
 1) This is not my debt.
 2) This is my debt, but it has been paid in full.
 3) The Statute
of Limitations
has expired and the collector
can not sue me
for this debt. 

Settle before the court date
Contact the collector and see if they are willing to settle out of
court.  If you can reach a settlement, be sure to get it in
writing.  A settlement is a better option than a
judgment.  With a settlement, the collector can not garnish
your wages or bank account.  Plus, you will avoid the court
fees and interest that comes with a judgment. 

Hire an attorney
If you are being sued for debt $5000 or greater, consider hiring an
attorney.   This will be less stressful on you and it
might work out to your benefit both emotionally and
financially.  You should call around and find an attorney who
will provide a free
consultation
.
If you are being treated unfairly by the collector, your rights
under the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
might be violated. 
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt
collector
CANNOT:

  • Use any profane language or any language that is harassing and
    abusive (FDCPA 15 U.S.C. 1692d)
  • Engage in any conduct, the natural consequence of which is to
    harass, abuse or oppress. ( FDCPA 15 U.S.C. 1692d)
  • Make any misrepresentations of fact, such as how much is owed,
    or certain actions they may take to force payment( FDCPA 15 U.S.C.
    1692e)
  • Threaten arrest or criminal prosecution ( FDCPA 15 U.S.C.
    1692e)

If a debt collector has engaged in any of the above conduct that
is not allowed by the FDCPA
statute of limitations
, or has been deceptive to you in any
other way, contact our office for a free case review.

File for Bankruptcy
If this debt is for a large sum or you have multiple debts, it will
make sense to consider bankruptcy for the following reasons:

  • Give you a fresh start by eliminating most or all of your
    debts.
  • Force creditors and collectors to leave you alone.
  • Stop any garnishments that are proceeding or about to
    begin.
  • Place a stop on any lawsuits pending against you.
  • Have all outstanding balances removed from your credit report.
    The fact that you filed for personal bankruptcy may appear on your
    credit file, but the creditors must report that the balance owed on
    the account is zero).

What if you do not work, will the judgment affect
you?
Maybe, maybe not.
Income from social security, disability payments and unemployment
can not be garnished.  These assets are exempt funds.
Review your assets.  Do you have a house or vehicle or a
savings account?  If you have a judgment against you, 
the collector can file a lien against your property and/or freeze
your bank account.

When you’re being pursued by debt collectors or being sued for a
debt, you have rights, and we’re here to help.  SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting
consumer rights since 2005. If you feel that you’re rights have
been violated, please contact us for a free
case review
.