Are You Being Sued by a Debt Collector?
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
1. DO NOT IGNORE THE
If you are being sued and you do not show up to court, the debt collector automatically wins its case, takes a judgment against you, and can then try to garnish your wages and/or bank account. If you do not have an attorney, be sure to appear in court on the scheduled date. The judge is highly likely to continue the case on the first setting anyway.
2. RETAIN A LAWYER
Your chances of defeating a lawsuit are much greater if you have legal representation. Do not assume that you cannot afford an attorney. If the debt collector violated the law in the process of suing you (which is not unusual), an attorney may be able to take your case on a “contingency fee” basis, meaning, the attorney only gets paid if he or she collects damages on your behalf. Even if you do not have a counterclaim against the debt collector, many consumer protection attorneys charge low fees for these types of cases.
3. DON'T ASSUME THE
DEBT COLLECTOR WILL WIN
Debt collection has become a major industry in the United States. Debt collection companies buy bad debts from credit card or finance companies. They pay pennies for each dollar owed. They make a tremendous profit by collecting the debt in full, plus interest, plus fees. The companies buy the accounts in bulk and they sue people en masse. However, when these companies purchase an account, they frequently do not purchase the documents they need to prove their case in court, such as the contract, an accounting of the alleged balance, etc. Because very few people retain lawyers, the debt collectors win the majority of their cases anyway. Once a lawyer gets involved, the debt collector frequently dismisses the case because it lacks sufficient evidence.
Also, if you are being sued for money you allegedly owe on a vehicle that has been repossessed from you, there are very specific regulations that the debt collector and law firm must follow. If they do not comply with these laws, they cannot collect.
4. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO
MAKE ANY STATEMENTS
If you appear in court without an attorney, the judge may ask you whether you owe the debt. Even if you believe you owe the money sought, it is best if you do not make any admissions without first speaking with an attorney. The fact is, you may not owe the debt to this particular company. It is also possible that the amount demanded in the lawsuit is unlawfully inflated. You can politely tell the judge that you would like the advice of an attorney and he or she will accept that. The same goes for speaking directly with the collector’s law firm or the collector itself. Do not make any statements to them without first getting legal advice.
5. YOU MAY HAVE A
If you do not owe the debt being collected, there is a high likelihood that the debt collector is violating the law and has a duty to compensate you. But even if you do owe the debt being collected, the debt collector must abide by regulations designed to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices. If the debt collector violates the law, you may be in a position to receive compensation.
The materials on this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice about any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Slough Connealy Irwin & Madden and the user or browser.