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Calls, mailings or lawsuits from debt collectors: all things most people would prefer not to deal with. But they’re more common than you might realize. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 70 million Americans have dealt with debt collectors, and around 25% felt threatened during their dealings with such agencies.

The type of language some collection agencies use can spark fear. When you’re served with a lawsuit and threats to your wages, bank accounts and other assets, the urge to ignore the issue and hope it miraculously goes away can be strong.

But understanding what happens when you get served papers for debt and what steps you can take to legally defend against a debt lawsuit can make a huge difference. First, make sure you understand your rights. Then, check out these seven things you can do when sued for a debt to find out how to win a debt collection lawsuit or protect your assets when possible.

1. Respond to the Lawsuit or Debt Claim

The number one mistake borrowers make when they are sued for a debt is failing to respond to the notice, which usually arrives in the form of a summons and complaint. If you owe the debt and can’t pay it, you may assume there’s not much you can do. If you fail to respond, however, the collection agency will get a default judgment against you. That opens up new avenues of collection for them, including wage garnishment or the ability to take money from your bank account, depending on state law. Worse, the collector may be able to add attorney’s fees, court costs or interest to the balance. In some cases, the balance can double or triple due to these additional costs.

Responding to a debt collection lawsuit, then, is a must.

Once the plaintiff (the collection agency or creditor) files a lawsuit, the matter is put before the court. That means you can’t simply respond via phone or letter to the plaintiff. You have to respond via legal briefs called an Answer. Some tips for doing so include:

  • Don’t admit liability for the debt; force the creditor to prove the debt and your responsibility for it.
  • File the Answer with the Clerk of Court.
  • Ask for a stamped copy of the Answer from the Clerk of Court.
  • Send the stamped copy certified mail to the plaintiff.

You must respond within the time period set by the lawsuit summons, which is typically 20 to 30 days from the date on the notice. Missing the deadline for a response can lead to the same consequences as ignoring the matter entirely, so act as soon as possible. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, once a judgment is entered, you may be unable to dispute the debt from that point on.

2. Challenge the Company’s Legal Right to Sue

One way to respond to a debt lawsuit is to challenge the plaintiff’s right to file the lawsuit. By the time a debt reaches this point, it has often been sold—sometimes more than once. The entity that owns the debt and is pursuing a lawsuit against you is legally required to show proof that they have a right to do so.

If you don’t respond, judges aren’t going to seek this information on their own and the court will consider your silence on the matter as an admission of responsibility for the debt. However, if you ask for documentation in writing or during a hearing, the judge is likely to back your request.

The plaintiff must provide:

  • A credit agreement signed by you
  • Documentation of the chain of custody of all paperwork—in short, proof that the paperwork is accurate and came from the original creditor

Plaintiffs that can’t provide this documentation may not have the standing to bring the lawsuit. Judges often dismiss debt lawsuits because of this.

3. Push Back on Burden of Proof

One thing that happens when you get served papers for debt is that the burden of proof rests heavily with the plaintiff. That means the person suing you has to prove:

  • That you are responsible for the debt
  • That they have the right to sue you
  • That you owe a specific amount

Requiring proof of the amount you owe can be one way to defend against a debt collection lawsuit.

For example, if a collection agency is suing you for $4,000 related to a credit card account, you should ask for documentation that starts with the opening of your account and ends with the last activity on the account. The goal is to demand that they account for every dollar they say you owe by showing:

  • The balance was increased when you made purchases
  • The balance was increased via fees and charges that were a part of the original credit agreement signed by you. If you didn’t agree to fees, they don’t have standing to sue you for them
  • The current balance is accurate and reflects all previous payments and adjustments

Because accounts often change hands multiple times before a lawsuit occurs, it’s not uncommon for this type of documentation to be impossible for creditors to drum up in a timely manner. That can result in a dismissal of the lawsuit or an agreement for a settlement at a much lower total.

4. Point to the Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations govern how long creditors have to bring a lawsuit regarding a debt. The rules vary by state and even situation, but typically the laws provide a range between four and six years in most cases. The beginning of that time period usually starts on the last day you were active on an account.

Activity is often defined as making a payment or drawing funds from an account. For example, the last time you used a credit card to make a purchase or made a payment on the balance of the card. You can review a guide to the statute of limitations on debt in each state to better understand the time line on your debt.

Because making a payment on an account can restart the clock for your debt, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice about your situation before you agree to make any payment on a debt. Some collection agencies get robust about efforts to collect even a small sum to extend the time line so they can file a suit later.

5. Hire Your Own Attorney

When you’re already faced with debt that you may not want to—or be able to—pay, incurring additional legal expenses often sounds like a bad idea. But consulting with an attorney helps you understand all your options in defending against a debt collection lawsuit. Many attorneys who offer this service also offer free consultations.

The benefits of a free consultation include:

  • Knowing whether there areoptions you can pursue
  • Understanding whether the benefits are worth the legal costs
  • Hearing an unemotional third party discuss your situation, which puts it into helpful perspective

Plus, attorneys who believe the creditor has acted illegally may take your case without compensation from you. That’s because if the court determines the creditor acted outside of the law, it might order the plaintiff to pay all legal fees. That includes paying your lawyer.

6. File a Countersuit if the Creditor Overstepped Regulations

Debt collectors that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may be on the hook for more than your legal fees. Consult a lawyer about this step, but if the creditor has engaged in violations, you may be able to seek compensation for any related damages.

7. File a Petition of Bankruptcy

If you owe a debt and can’t pay it and you’re experiencing other financial distress, bankruptcy might be the right option. When you file a petition of bankruptcy, an automatic stay occurs. That means that all debt collection activity must cease and desist while the bankruptcy is handled.

Bankruptcy has large ramifications for your financial status and credit, but in some cases, it can be a first step toward a clean slate and rebuilding your credit. It’s not always the right response to every debt-related lawsuit, but if you think filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be right for you, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait until just before the date of any hearing related to a lawsuit, your attorney may have to file an emergency bankruptcy petition, which can be more expensive.

Whatever decisions you make about defending against a debt collection lawsuit, remember that your financial history continues to develop your entire life. You can keep an eye on your credit score and understand how this legal activity impacts it by getting your free score on Credit.com.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Daniel Dennis

    I have a very old debt that I have not paid on in over 7 years in new jersey. My ex wife took it apon herself to pay it off and is now taking me to court for the other half. Is Statue of limitations reset with that debt because she made a payment? And also am I pretty much beat to pay her now because statue of limitations will not apply now?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Making a payment can restart the statute of limitations. However, you may want to consult your attorney about your best recourse here — whether you’re on the hook to pay can be affected by the state you live in, whether your spouse was also liable for the debt (which can also be affected by state, since some adopt community property laws that make spouses liable for debts incurred during a marriage) and what’s stipulated in your divorce decree.



  • Jeanine Skowronski

    You may want to consult a consumer attorney. If you have a statement in writing, it may be best to show up on your court date with said letter to ensure a there isn’t a default judgment for the lender.

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    The receipt of payment may be enough to get the court case dismissed. However, you may want to consult a consumer attorney about your best recourse.



  • Hot Goddess

    I got sued by a creditor recently, i live in florida. basically, ive had a nightmare tryign to find a good lawyer or someone who isn’t a jerk. One lawyer was glad to take on my case for 2 weeks. I went to meet with him- but i wasn’t signing paperwork b/c i felt sick that day. He was very nice and said i could do it a week later. I called and asked if i could do it the next day, he was going out of town. He and his wife said yes. An hour before the appt, he calls telling me he can’t take my case based on ONE statement I made about my debt- it all sounded so shady and fishy. That threw me off completely.

    I went in a state of panic and settled with the debt company- trying to call other lawyers too. They agreed to 3 payments of the same price it cost a lawyer. I then called another lawyer today- he was crazy. He went on and on insulting me, blabbing away, talking over me. If i tried to talk he angrily TALKED over me and said “IM GIVING YOU TWO REFERRALS AND THEN IM DONE”!!! he was psycho..another lawyer agreed to take my case for 1000, same cost for settling. B/c these lawyers are so awful im just going to settle

  • kay

    What if you just want to pay the amount as it was an oversight or now you have the money or whatever. How do you just pay without incurring add on’s or activating something that allows them to add things on.

  • Tara

    I was served papers, I called the people and told them I had insurance during that time and they asked me to prove it. I did this, they stated that they would bring the bill to my insurance company (it was a hospital bill for $3500 and I had been laid off from my job) and still there was a court date that they never told me about, the papers never mentioned a date. Do I need to call them back and figure out what happened? Do I need to find out if they even billed my insurance company for the damages because during that time my insurance (due to a issue between them and the health care act) was stating to places I didn’t have insurance with them. How do I proceed?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You can ask for written verification of the debt, though there might be more information in the papers you were served. You may want to consult a consumer attorney about your best recourse.

      Thank you,


  • Debi

    I received a civil complaint for a credit card. The amount is almost double what I last saw on a statement. I have not received a statement from the company in over 2 years. There was a copy of a letter with the complaint that was supposedly mailed to me from the lawyer’s office a few months ago that said I had 30 days to dispute the debt, but I never received the notice. The first time I heard anything of this debt in over 2 years was when I received the complaint. I believe that I stopped receiving bills because I was notified that I was named in a class action lawsuit against the same company that is now suing me. I am answering the complaint and requesting more information about the debt from the company, as well as a copy of the original signed contract. Do I have any further steps I should take?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney about your best legal recourse.

      Thank you,


  • kesie

    I have an open line if credit debt with my credit union. I have always been two months behind making payments, but the creditor was willing to work with me. They would call me and remind me about a payment every month and I would pay. One day in October 2015 the creditor called me and wanted me to make a payment that I couldn’t make on that day. I told them that I can make a payment but it wouldn’t be on that day. they told me to not bother making a payment and they charged my account off. I still made the payment and they sent my payment back to me. I received a letter from the law firm stating that I need to pay the entire balance by November 15th 2015. I was not able to make that payment. I contacted the law firm but they stated that the company did not want to work with me. the law firm stated they will be sending me out if stipulation for court. what can I do?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Kesie,

      Unfortunately, creditors may still send an overdue or defaulted account you are making payments on to collections, but you can consult a consumer attorney to learn of your best options.

      Thank you,


  • Lisa

    This is on behalf of my 75 Year old mother… She got a credit card in 2003, paid on it until 2008, when she was forced to move from her apartment. After months of moving around, she finally settled in another apartment. She never heard from the credit card company, as far as I know. In 2014 she suffered a stroke and is now total care. I moved her from Florida to Pennsylvania with me to take care of her. Now in 2015, a company called frontline is calling her about this debt. A judgment was filed against her in 2009 and this is the first she is hearing about this, again as far as I know. She can barely talk, she can’t walk, and she only gets a small amount of money from SSA. I don’t know what to do for her, I can’t afford to pay it for her and she can’t afford to pay due to all her money going to her medical expenses. I am her POA, however, I was not there when she became in-default and a judgement was entered. She does not remember this bill, but that could be a part of the stroke that affected her memory. What can I do or should I do in this situation? I have asked the company to send me proof that she owes this since I am coming into this not knowing about it and her not remembering about it. All they can send me is a copy of the judgement. They also say they have sent things to her at this current address, which is not true, I receive all her mail. What should be done?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      You need to talk with a lawyer. A defendant should be informed of a court date before a judgment is issued. A lawyer could advise you on whether it could be set aside.

      • Lisa

        She may have been notified, but because she did not have a permanent address it may not have found her until after the court date. She does not remember and she did not live with me. So, I know nothing about it. Should I contact the courts and see, because shouldn’t something have been sent certified mail?

        • Jeanine Skowronski

          Hi, Lisa,

          It may be best to consult a consumer attorney to find out what your mother’s best course of action is here.

          Thank you,


  • Andra

    My mom received a voicemail on her home phone that i have a case against me. No name or number. I haven’t received any summons or complaint. What can I do?

  • Tam

    Me and a partner brought a business from someone going bankrupt unbenounce to us.
    In turn the persons turned the contract and the monies due to her to the bankruptcy court in lieu of her paying her debt to them. The business folded failed because her contracts were not continued and we are being sued by courts for payment. My partner went bankrupt and they left her alone and now they are perusing me.
    I believe the statue of limitations is up. What should I do? I also did not think a contract was transferable and now they either need to go back and pursue her and or leave me alone.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Tam – As much as we’d like to help you need to talk with your own attorney to protect yourself — and your assets.

  • Pat

    please help midland funding says that they have filed papers in court for a 2,500.00 debt that I have been trying to pay every month, I just sent them 500.00 can they still sue?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Yes, but that doesn’t mean they will win. Do you know if they have actually filed papers or have they just told you that? When you say you have been “trying to pay,” have you been paying?
      Here’s a post that might be useful:
      Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

  • Carlos Cervantes

    i was just given a summons. Is there a way to work it out before having to go to court? Can i still work out a payment plan with the collectors? stress levels are at an all time high here.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      You can try. As long as you have not gone to court, there is still time.

  • questiongirl

    My kids said there was a guy knocking on the door when I was not home. They know not to answer the door when we are not home. She said he had a badge. I’m assuming that one of the credit cards I let go are trying to sue me. Im scared. Im not sure I know where to begin. In the past the offered for me to pay like half but wanted money up front. Well if I had that then I would not have defaulted on the min. Payment. My husband took a 30,000 dollar pay cut, I was in nursing school and so on. Long story short my cards went south, was unable to finish school. Anyhow can they proceed with a lawsuit in court if I not served with papers? If so how can I find out my court date? I tried looking at the county clerks office but could not figure it out. I don’t believe I owe as much as they are requesting. Where do I go to file this stuff listed above. I don’t want to not do something. As my credit was awesome for 19 years. Any other sitea you can offer up to give more detail? Anyone ever hire a lawyer? What are their prices like? We are the only family at my husband’s company that did not loose our house. We now just have a house. And a car. No internet,cable,etc… please help. God bless

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I know this must be incredibly stressful for you. Please meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. The attorney can help you understand your rights and options. You can visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. Depending on where you live, the consultation may be free or at least at a low cost.

  • Liz

    Hello can you provide with some assistance on how to go about this matter. I just received a call from a firm that I was going to be summoned for an account that was open back in 2000. However, I do not recall this account when I returned the call the lady who answered just told me of the issue and disconnected the call.. Can you please assist? Thank you!

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Liz —
      A debt from 2000 is probably no longer collectable (there are exceptions, but if this was not a judgment and there has been no activity on the account, you probably do not have to pay). But a phone call is not enough. You should get a “demand letter” and you have a right to a “validation of the debt” via postal mail. Any collector who objects to having to provide those (which are required by federal law) should be suspect. Here are some resources that may help:
      The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
      7 Things You Need to Know About the Statutes of Limitation for Debt
      9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

      • Liz

        Ok, so based on the information you have provided I called GBA solutions this morning and request that they send me “Demand Letter and Validation of Debt” by mail. The lady who I spoke to yesterday stated that they could no longer do that because they had attempted to reach me at an old address that I have not live in for about 9 years and by email. But, that the summons was being mailed out in 7 to 10 business days at the old address. So, based on the information you provided and I read this account is passed the statue of limitation and sounds like a scammed. Now, can you please guide me on the next step I need to take? Should I contact my court house to see if I’m being sued by this company, so that I do not miss the court date and have them win by default?

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          That’s certainly one thing you can do. And if they know your old address is no longer current but they “serve” you there then they probably are not perfecting service. Sounds very fishy.

  • Clinton

    I was just served with Collection Lawsuit papers. What should my first step be, I have 16 days to respond???? Please help

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Please read this article: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit. Anytime someone is sued we recommend they talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney asap to find out what their options are, and what happens if the creditor gets a judgment.

  • Joy

    I just found out that there was a judgement put against me and they took every penny from my bank account. When I called to see what the judgment was for they told me I was sued by a debt collector which I had no knowledge of. They told me I was summons paperwork about the lawsuit March of 2014 but I was never summoned any such documents. Is there a way I can dispute this and get my money back?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      We touched on that in this story:
      I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      It’s difficult to tackle as a DIY project. Your best bet is to talk with a consumer protection attorney if you can. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler


    I would encourage you to meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. The attorney can advise you as to what they can and cannot to do collect, and can help you understand whether you need to consider bankruptcy if they sue you and you can’t afford to pay them.

  • Iral

    I have been sued by the company midland, I sent a letter back, and my court date is June 24 2015 and the last payment was made on that account the June 3 2011, live in Tx. My question, is this account out of statute of limitation?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It is very possible that it is but we’re not attorneys so we can’t give you legal advice. However, since you are in Texas you’re in luck. The Texas Consumer Complaint Center can likely help you determine how to proceed and their services are free.

  • db

    was sue by recovery partners ii llc in 2006. didnot get a notice on this. didnot know aout this until I tried to refi my home.. recovery partners is out of bus. the atty who handled this is not giving any info as to who I own this 19,000 to. what can I do?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Denise —

    We’ve published a more recent article on judgments which you’ll find here: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?. It sounds like you are in a very stressful situation and that it’s affecting your health. I’d encourage you to at least meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. You can ask them about whether you were properly served and whether the judgment was illegally obtained. You can also find out what the creditor can and cannot do to collect from you now that they have a judgment.

  • Adar

    Hello, Can somebody here take a look at a past civil suit matter and offer some input? it deals with a summary judgment having been issued against me even after I sent my Answer to the complaint.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      We can’t offer any kind of legal advice but you are welcome to post it and see if someone in the community can offer feedback.

  • Lilly

    You have proof you paid? Send copy to them certified mail. Let them know if they continue to harrass you for bills already paid you will take them to court.

    • jontx11

      My friend when through the same thing. Um, they came to her house. She certified the proof. She called the police and had them arrested for harassment.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Tyler

    Just got served. $7,917.30 is the balance of the credit card I had. Lost my job in 2010 and haven’t paid on the card since then. Was without work for 14 months. I’m back on my feet now, but this is still a lot of money for me. Now that I’ve been served, is it too late to try and settle?

  • mary

    should I get a lawyer?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You mean to defend you against a lawsuit by a collector or creditor? It’s a good idea; the other side will almost certainly have one.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Your friend may be able to take you to small claims court but even if she gets a judgment against you she may have trouble collecting given your limited financial resources. No a court can’t force you to take a job but if you can find a way to earn enough income to pay her off it sounds like it makes sense to do so so you can cut your ties.

    We wrote about the issue of going after someone’s car in this article: Can Debt Collectors Repossess My Car?

  • MikeV

    Hello looking for some honest advice this looked like a good place to get it. I just got a letter today from an attorney trying to collect an old debt. Back in 2006 I signed up for on of these deals where they bring a fresher and stock it with food from lakeside national foods. I made a small deposit and made monthly payment to a company called Jefferson financial. I paid for a while but lost my job and could no longer pay eventually lost everything and I filled bankruptcy in 2009. I included Jefferson financial in the BK. it is now 2015 an attorney sends me a letter saying that aim in default of the contract with lakeside signed in 2006 and was to commence August 2011 and end July 2013 he sent a copy of the contract.

    How can this even be possible when I never even made a payment to lakeside much less here from them or receive any additional services from them since I signed the agreement much less filed the bankruptcy in 2009

    You help would be greatly appreciated

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Did you dispute it? You can send them a certified letter telling them that this debt was discharged in your bankruptcy and instruct them not to contact you again. My guess is that will be enough to get them to leave you alone. You can also file a complaint with the CFPB against the company and the collection attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know what would be required to open a new court action and I don’t know whether they will try to pursue this but it seems to me that the odds are in your favor that they won’t want to go to the time and expense of trying to litigate again, only to risk losing again. But I can’t say for certain. You can always talk with a consumer law attorney in your area – visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates website if you need help finding one.

  • http://www.florinlegal.com Scott Florin

    I posted a similar article earlier this week on my blog, but the first topic you posted is so important…DO NOT IGNORE CREDIT CARD LAWSUITS! Like some of the other comments below, there are a great deal of attorneys who offer free consultations, including myself. There are also so many individualized factors regarding the alleged debt and your own personal finances to consider when defending a lawsuit that it is impossible to list all of the relevant factors in a list.

  • wendy

    My husband was served papers for a medical debt. We then made payment arrangements and made those payments. The collection agency still put a judgment on him. Their response was that “it was part of the deal.” Is this legal?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Wendy —
      Do you have paperwork showing that there was an agreement that if you made the payments, there would be no lawsuit? (A collection agency can’t put a judgment on anyone. That is done by a court.)
      You can read more here:
      Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Interest on collection accounts and judgments is common but that doesn’t mean they are correct. If you think they are overcharging you, you can try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Pioneer Tech

      Hi Gerri:
      Can a company use the amount owed and get a tax right off and then turn around and collect it from you after they get the write off? I think the answer is no, so then how do these junk collectors get to collect on an amount that was already used to by the original owner of the debt for a tax write off. Then what would stop each person who takes assignment of the debt to take the same write off as the original owner of the debt. Shouldn’t the same logic be applied to the last guy in line trying to collect a debt that the original owner deemed un-collectible.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        I can’t comment on the tax aspect of the issue.The write-offs businesses get isn’t my area of expertise. What I can say is that if a debt is charged off that doesn’t stop the creditor from collecting (at least until the statute of limitations expires).

  • Silver Savior

    What’s so bad about writing it off?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Then it may be time to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I think I am missing something in your description of what’s happening, but regardless I agree talking with a consumer law attorney would be a wise next step.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    A creditor can look at your past history when making a loan. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t make the account disappear from your credit reports. However, if your credit report indicates that you will owe money for this judgment that you discharged in bankruptcy, I would suggest you talk with your bankruptcy attorney for advice on dealing with it.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    A creditor can look at your past history when making a loan. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t make the account disappear from your credit reports. However, if your credit report indicates that you will owe money for this judgment that you discharged in bankruptcy, I would suggest you talk with your bankruptcy attorney for advice on dealing with it.

  • Karen

    I have court in 3 weeks but I’m not working I have five kids and my husband gets six hundred a week what can I do

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I would suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney to find out if the collection agency acted legally. It is possible they didn’t, and if they didn’t you may be able to get the judgment vacated.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    As much as we’d love to be able to help, this is a legal matter and you need legal advice. If you can’t afford an attorney you may be able to get help through Legal Aid.

  • eric

    I just paid a debt because the company that called said there was a civil case pending. And it would have been for three times the amount unless I could pay a reduced sum today, that the company would except that as final. I asked for a verification letter, which they sent. And I assumed it was legit, unfortunately I failed to read the whole thing just thenparts with the large money numbers. Now I look at it and the letter isn’t even addressed to me. It has someone else’s name all together. They already have my money, is there anything I can do, or is it lesson learned.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Ugh! How did you pay them?

      If it is a scammer – and it sounds like it very well could be – you are probably out of luck. I would encourage you to at least report it to local law enforcement. These kinds of reports often go into a national database that may be useful in identifying the crooks.

  • Tony

    Hi Gerri are you still answering, I have a case that needs your help

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I am still answering consumer questions on the blog if that’s what you’re asking.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Are the fees they are charging outlined clearly in the contract/agreement you had?

    How long did you go without paying?

    What type of employment contract?

    • Not Rich

      I never received a notice saying what fees they would charge me if I defaulted on my payment plan. I missed one payment arrangement. They did tell me “collection activities would continue” if I broke the arrangement. I used to be a loan collector, so I was very specific when I spoke with the agent about my missed payment, that would be happy to take care of the balance when I received my first check. I never said I wouldn’t pay, just that I couldn’t pay. Not sure what you’re asking about the employment contract. I voluntarily left my job because my position was cut, as well as my pay. (Unrelated to my situation, cost saving plan by upper management for a business going through rough times.) I work in an at-will state, so they could have fired me for any reason. But when my position was cut, I decided the best course of action for me was to move on.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If the statute of limitations has expired and they are trying to sue you then, yes, you may be able to raise the statute of limitations as a defense. You may want to consult with a consumer law attorney to double check, but if you confirm that it’s outside the statute of limitations you may be able to represent yourself.

  • john

    I have been hounded by a physicans office. I have proof that I paid my co-pay and they use phrases like “insurance transfer cost” I have ask a number of times at the doctors office what the story was and each time they say they will look into it. Now I am threatened with a collection agency. It is a small amount, 3 office visit co-pays, an from past experience if they make a mistake they continue to charge me anyway. May I sue the office for the bother they put me through and will it be worth any money to me ?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    kik – I would suggest you talk with the consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The collection agencies should validate the debt.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    A legitimate collector would give you that information. Good for you for not falling for it.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Esmerelda —

    Did you take out the payday loan before or after your bankruptcy? If before, chances are good you are talking to a scammer.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am not an attorney and can’t give legal advice but my assumption is that the fact that they filed a complaint wouldn’t extend the statute of limitations. You can probably find out for little or no cost by talking with a consumer bankruptcy attorney: NACBA.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am not an attorney and can’t give legal advice but my assumption is that the fact that they filed a complaint wouldn’t extend the statute of limitations. You can probably find out for little or no cost by talking with a consumer bankruptcy attorney: NACBA.

  • Chris M.

    If you’re asking for proof of ownership, I’m not sure they are required to provide that to you. They are required to send you a written notice within 5 days of the first phone call though – did they at least do that? If not, I’d recommend contacting a consumer protection attorney, especially if you have information that says the debt is owned by someone else.

  • Chris M.

    I assume you are referencing debt validation/verification. A debt collector is not legally obligated to provide proof of debt prior to taking a consumer to court through itemized statements, signed contracts, etc. The only thing they need to provide to satisfy a dispute under the FDCPA is confirmation from the creditor that the amount they are claiming is owed matches what the creditor says is owed. It’s a ridiculously low standard I’m afraid.

    In court it’s a different story though and they have to prove their case.

  • Chris M.

    Just to clarify here, the maximum amount the FDCPA can award in statutory damages is $1,000 per action, not per violation. Whether you are suing over one phone call or 100 phone calls, you can only be awarded up to $1,000 in total for statutory damages. Keep in mind the amount awarded is at the discretion of the court; I’ve seen many cases where the award was only $50 – $100 for minor violations.

    • Brian Williams

      Well what I meant to say was a 1,000.00 per call on the TCPA,That was a typo, and FDCPA could be settled up to 1,500.00 because I have done it and that is actually the maximum if proven intentional.

  • Steve

    You can file a motion to Vacate the judgment and start at square one with a defense.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Margee – Have you called your credit counseling agency? Is this a DMP or a debt settlement program? (What is the name of the counseling company?)

  • Jaelle

    On 7/22/14 I received a call from my bank telling me there was a lien on my home from a creditor. After tracking this collection company down ( who had purchased this debt in the early 90’s) down and then their lawyer. I found out that this was a debt from either 1983 0r 1986. How could the place a lien on my home for a debt way pass the Statute of Limitations? In Ohio the SOL was originally 15 years. It has since been changed to six years. I am trying to find out the correct procedures to file a motion to have this judgement vacated.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Jaelle – I suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney. If you need help finding one visit NACA.net. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

    • Chris M.

      Talk to a consumer protection attorney. If the debt was outside of the SOL when they filed suit, you can have the whole thing tossed – and even go after the collection agency for violating the FDCPA to collect statutory damages. Many consumer attorneys will take your case at no charge if the CA violated the FDCPA.

      If you win and that lien hurt you in some way (like causing you to get a higher interest rate or something from it being on your credit report) then you’re looking at actual damages as well.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Is there a judgment? If so then there is no need to sue you because that would mean they already have. Are you sure you’re not dealing with a scammer? 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but my recommendation is that you talk with a consumer law attorney. If you can’t afford one, you may want to find out if you can get help from Legal Aid.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Are you sure you are not dealing with debt collection scammers? Debt collectors are required under federal law to send you written confirmation of the debt within 5 days of initially contacting you. It’s not optional. Have you read this? 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

  • Nikki


    I have a small business credit card – in my name and the business’ name. The credit card company for some reason closed this credit card account abruptly and then requested the balance to be paid. I don’t have any paperwork or indication that the balance was ever sent to a collection agency. A few months later, the corporate agent for the company was served with a lawsuit but I haven’t been personally served yet. Even though it’s not a corporate card, its for commercial expenses, do I (or my company) still have the same rights to dispute the debt and request validation of the debt and/or protection under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

    Do credit card companies have conditions they must comply with when attempting to collect commercial debts – like they do for collecting consumer debt?

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Probably, but talk with an experienced debt collection defense attorney in your state about the angle in your comment, and other potential options for managing the situation.

    Check out http://www.naca.net when trying to locate an attorney with the experience you need, who will also typically offer a no cost initial consult.

  • anita jones

    Wisconsin…I have a creditor that took me to court and the case was dismissed. Now they are threating to take me back to court. can they do that?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Was it dismissed with prejudice or without prejudice? If the latter then they may be able to try again. (Please keep in mind we are not attorneys and can’t offer legal advice.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What state do you live in? If you live in a community property state then any debt incurred by either of you after your marriage may be both of your responsibility. If you don’t, then it sounds like the lender has mistakenly identified you as a joint accountholder and not an authorized user. (Whether your husband agreed to pay it or not would irrelevant if you were a joint accountholder – but it sounds like you were not.)

    Get your
    free annual credit reports to see how it is listed. Also monitor your credit scores for free throughout this process. Finally, you may need to either talk with a consumer law attorney or complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • lbuggz

      I live in Florida

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Steven – You should be speaking with an debt defense attorney about your next steps. Try to locate some one nearest you with the experience needed through http://www.naca.net.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It is not at all uncommon for debt collection lawsuits to contain errors. In fact,. one judge was quoted in a national news story stating that most of these suits are erroneous but because consumers don’t defend themselves they get a default judgment. I don’t know what the track record is for this lender nor do I know what kinds of defenses you may have. The outcome may also depend on where your case is filed.

    Just showing up is not a defense against a lawsuit. You either need to have an attorney present or at least get some input on possible defenses you can raise yourself. If you can’t afford an attorney you may want to see whether you are eligible for legal aid: LawHelp.org. I truly hope you can find a solution.

    (And I understand completely what you’re saying: if you had the money to pay it you wouldn’t be in this situation!)

  • http://www.coralseamercantile.com.au Coral Mercintile

    great and useful article about dealing with debt collection companies.Thanks

  • christine alpert

    my aunt paid credit card insurance and when she got fired i called the credit card to let them know cuz she doesn’t speak english they said it would be taken care of. 2 years later she get a summons from the midland funding to go to court what does she do

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Christine – Unfortunately your aunt is going to need legal advice since she is being sued.She will need to talk to a consumer law attorney. She may have a defense to the lawsuit as I mentioned in the article, but you’ll need an attorney to evaluate the facts and circumstances. If she can’t afford one, I’d suggest she find out if she qualifies for legal aid. Does she live in Texas by chance?

  • Allison

    I was served with a summons and complaint and was advised to respond, which I did but I didn’t list any of the above defenses. They neglected to respond but asked the court waive the dismissal without prejudice a set the matter for trial. So, I have to go to court in August.

    My question is what do I do next. I know to ask them for standing and chain of custody but how do I do that correctly? Do I send the plaintiff a letter? Do i wait until the court date and ask them in front of the judge? This is discovery, right?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Who is suing you (name of plaintiff)?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I would suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney in your area to find out if the amount of interest they are charging you is legal. (Visit NACA.net for a referral.) If it is, and there is no way you can resolve this debt you may need to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Regardless of whether that is standard practice or not the real issue now is what can you do about it? You need to find out whether the statute of limitations has expired (are they filing suit too late?) If so then they may be breaking the law. If not, then you need to understand your options for either fighting the lawsuit or resolving the debt. I suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Karen – I am not sure I understand. Did they take the payment out earlier than they were supposed to? Do you have any record of your agreement with them? Have you tried contacting the provider who took out the payment early?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Alisha – Since you are being sued for this debt I strongly recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney to find out what your options are.

  • jenni

    In the section “make them prove what they owe”, it states “We always demand to see the original signed agreement and a balance on the account from zero to the present,” Is that something i put in my answer, file a motion, ask the judge during the trial? Thanks

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Jenni – The procedure for responding to a debt collection lawsuit varies by state. The plaintiff (the creditor or collection agency) will have legal counsel and you will be at a disadvantage if you try to handle this yourself. I’d recommend you at least talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Why isn’t your bankruptcy attorney advising you on this? It would be very improper for us to do so when you are in the midst of a legal proceeding.

  • Rain

    today my uncle received an estafa-case notice or something like that from a company that lends money. they gave him 5 days to pay all his balances including the interests and it has reached over 60,000. the letter says that if he can’t pay the exact amount before the time limit that they gave, they would really sue . PLS,GIVE US SOME ADVICE

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      What is the name of the company? What state is your uncle in?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Unfortunately the fact that you can’t afford to pay is not a defense against a debt collection lawsuit. As I mentioned in the article, you must have a valid reason for fighting the lawsuit. And this is something that is generally difficult for the average person to navigate on their own without legal training. (It’s not impossible but difficult.)

    Have you tried reaching out to your local legal aid office. Some of them are quite good and may be able to assist you. Another option is for you to consult a consumer bankruptcy attorney. It may turn out that bankruptcy is your best option here.

    Finally, even if they get a judgment against you in court that doesn’t mean they will be able to collect. This article may help: Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    An attorney who regularly collects the debt is considered a debt collector for purposes of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Calling you a liar and refusing to verify the debt etc sounds they may not be following that law. You need to consult a consumer law attorney of your own. You may have a case under the FDCPA and if you do you they may have to pay your attorney’s fees as well as damages. Visit NACA.net to find one in your area. Let us know what happens.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    They would need to sue you first, get a judgment, and only then would they be afforded extra ordinary collection options. At that point, the social security cannot be attached at the source, and I doubt the annuity would be attachable (talk with an experienced consumer law attorney about this).

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    It is possible that you could be sued. What is the name of the debt collection company contacting you?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Candy – It is natural to be panicked when you receive notice of a lawsuit. But take a deep breath and please provide us with some more information to help us point you in the right direction.

    What kind of provider was this? Hospital, doctor, lab?
    When did your husband get this medical treatment?
    Was this a participating provider in his insurance network?
    What happened after he saw the provider – did he get bills? An Explanation of Benefits from his insurance? Anything else?
    Do you know why it went unpaid? Did you have any conversations with your insurance or the provider?
    Were you contacted by a collection agency previously? If so, what happened?
    You say the company has shut down – what company?
    How much are they suing you for?
    If need be would you be able to settle or pay this bill?
    I need to better understand the situation.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    I would recommend you contact an experienced consumer law attorney with a practice that focuses on helping people with collection issues in the courts. Try looking for one that is a member with http://www.naca.net (use the find attorney feature on the site). You may also want to try contacting a low income legal aid office nearest you. If you qualify for low to no cost help, they would be a great resource. If not, they may be able to refer you somewhere.

    The reason for what you described to occur, is often due to failure to follow through with something compelled by the court, like not showing up for an asset discovery hearing.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Greta – Unfortunately by making those two payments you may have revived the statute of limitations which may have given this collector longer to sue you. While I know you don’t want to file for bankruptcy, you really do need to get legal advice here. What happens if they successfully sue you and get a judgment for $19,000? Do you know how they can collect from you? (It may include garnishing wages, going after your assets etc. depending on state law.)

    I’d really encourage you to at least talk with an attorney who handles bankruptcy and debt collection defense. It may be that you have a defense against this lawsuit since it changed hands so many time. But you are going to be up against counsel and trying to represent yourself will be difficult at best.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Jeff – You appear to have legally discharged the debt in bankruptcy, but that would not have let her off the hook for the debt as a cosigner. She paid, or could have been sued. If the divorce agreement was that you were to pay this, but did not, they may be able to force the issue. You should talk with your lawyer about this. If you are not going to talk to your divorce lawyer, talk to a different one and get their advice.

    • Jeff

      Thanks Michael, I was only able to get a hold of my bankruptcy lawyer but said about what you said. Best I can hope for is not going to court, not paying legal fees, or penalties to lender. Should I demand any taxable write-off she might have claimed to be subtracted from what I possible owe? It was a loan used for educational job training.

      • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

        I cannot see how her tax treatment on this issue would relate to your finances, but talk with your tax pro about this to get the advice you need.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Renee – You should discuss this with your own attorney, but I would expect that the only one that would be inconvenienced by your move, as it relates to the collection lawsuit, would be you.

    I am not aware of any requirement for a suit like this to get moved to another state for your convenience. You would need to travel back to Ohio for trial, and any required appearances leading up to that.

    Have you consulted with an experienced debt defense attorney? It would be a good idea at this point if you haven’t.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know. Was their case dismissed with prejudice or without prejudice? If the former then it’s my understanding they can’t bring the same case again. But I am not an attorney so I’ll have to suggest you talk with one in your area. Visit NACA.net for a referral.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Since you have proof this is an easy one. They have to honor this request and if they broke the law you may be entitled to statutory damages, attorneys fees, and possibly even punitive damages. Contact a consumer law attorney who no doubt will be happy to help at no cost to you (since the collector pays the attorneys fees if you win). Visit Naca.net for a referral.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds like you are doing your homework and doing everything you can. They may not show up in court, and if not, hopefully your preparations will pay off. As much as I’d like to give you further advice, I am not an attorney and am not familiar with how these kinds of matters proceed in your local area. If you can let us know how this turns out, though, I am sure other readers will be interested!

    • Aj721

      They never showed!!! Dismissed with prejudice. I did not have to say a word, except my name and that I was the defendant. THANKS!!! I followed your advise and prevailed!!!! I was back in my car by 9:30 am!!!

      I was the 7th case out of 13. Those before me did not show and got judgements by default. PEOPLE – follow Gerri’s advise – file and answer and show up!!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes it may be possible depending on the facts and circumstances in your situation, but the procedure varies by state. Two ways to find out: talk with a bankruptcy attorney who should be able to explain your options or try researching it yourself. If you decide on the latter, start with your state attorney general’s consumer protection office. You can also try contacting the court. Some publish consumer information.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds like you are being sued for a debt. I would recommend you contact a consumer law attorney. If you can’t afford one, you can try legal aid. Gulf Coast Legal Services is a good organization – I know they cover Bradenton, not sure if they can help you in Gainesville but it is worth a try.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    It would be a good idea to talk your situation over with an experienced consumer law attorney. One who specializes in defending against collections in the court. This type of attorney could already have experience dealing with QuickClick, or the attorney they have hired to collect from you. Try to locate an attorney near you at http://www.naca.net

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You need to talk with your own attorney right away. First place I would start is with your divorce attorney of course. I suspect, though, that you also need to consult with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. They should be able to help you with both the judgment and the creditors that are coming after you. You can search for one in your area here: NACBA

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Your best bet is to talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection and lemon law. They may have some advice for you to help you understand your options. Visit NACA.net to find one in your area. The first consultation will likely be free. If you discover you can’t afford their advice, ask if they can refer you to legal aid in your area. I hope you can figure something out so you can put this behind you before you leave.

  • Tanya

    Pay your bill. You incurred it. Just bc it is old doesn’t mean you don’t owe it. Where are your morals? Do you even have any that you are intentionally hiding from a co that helped you when you needed it? God forbid you ever need help again. I hope you get turned down for any credit for years to come and then you will learn.

    • Sunday

      Tanya get a grip on reality..who are you to judge anyone . Sometimes people get into situations that they cant help right away. Just because she didnt pay doesnt mean she did it to be immoral! ! Maybe she couldn’t ..do you know her or the situation. Get a life

    • Cossi

      Tanya,, the law have no morals

    • johnny

      Well said Tanya! I was going to say exactly that. I can’t believe someone is advising not to pay just because this is an old debt.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Tanya – Talking to the debt collector won’t keep it on your credit report longer. The fact that he is threatening court action sounds suspicious. You are entitled to a written notice of the debt. Insist that they send it to you. Proceed carefully; this could potentially be a scam. Read:
        9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Adam – My understanding is that they would need to document that you owe the debt. It’s not up to you to prove that basic fact. However, when they take you to court they will have lawyers who know the court procedures and you will be at a severe disadvantage. would encourage you to talk with a consumer law attorney. They may be willing to help you at low or even no cost if the collector is breaking the law. You may even be entitled to damages. Visit naca.net to find one in your area.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    There are consumer law attorneys that specialize in auto deals gone bad. I would encourage you to locate one nearer you and talk about how all of this went down. You can search for one at http://www.naca.net.

    You may not be able to afford to retain an attorney (though consumer law attorneys can be more affordable than people think). You can also look for help from a low income legal aid office nearby. Many will have experience with auto lending and warranty laws. And it sounds like you may qualify for lower cost assistance.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Jan – It is not too late to consolidate your bills if you are referring to something like a debt management program. But just like original creditors, not all debt collectors will be interested in having you on the plan.

    If you want to post the names of the collectors you are currently hearing from, I can comment about that. There is also good opportunities to settle debts for lower payoffs at this late stage of delinquency.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Unfortunately, they do not have to accept the settlement, or payment in the amount of the two bills you agree with.

    You can increase your offer if you can pool together other cash resources that quickly, but at this late stage, I would encourage you to go to the court date regardless. You may find you are able to set up some type of affordable payment while there, or learn of other options and exemptions.

    Have you sought advice from a low income legal aid office? You may want to place a call to one and see if they can suggest anything to you at this late stage, and perhaps even get some support.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Is this collector threatening you with either of those actions? If so their threats are probably illegal. You generally can’t go to jail because you can’t afford to pay a debt, and a debt lawsuit is a civil matter not a criminal matter. However, you can suffer some consequences if they get a judgment against you (possibly wage garnishment or seizure of your bank accounts, depending on state law), and judgments last a very long time. For that reason, I would really encourage you to at least meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney so you understand your rights and options here.

    Also read: Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What?

  • nancy

    Hi Jill,
    I have answered the summon / complaint in the case of a credit card collector in a timely manner, representing myself on September 2012. filled out the forms and got waiver for the fee of $350 filed them all correctly and requested for ‘validation of debt ” Itemized on the form.
    after filling it, and submitting a copy to the court, I have not heard back from this collector who have hired a law office to represent them “Access Management” until Oct. 2013. they took the case to the different superior court in Santa Ana , and sent me
    ” case management” to appear at that court .
    I again mailed them and the court a “validation of the debt”.
    requesting the history of payment, and the date last payment was received etc. they just sent me a letter that they have originally sent to collect the debt a one page attached that just shows an account number and the name of a bank.!! there is again no evidence that this debt was transferred to them or no original agreement with my signature so None.
    how ever no one from plaintiff ‘s side had showed up at that date, our case was the first case at 9:00 am that was on 15th November 2013, judge then said we will give them another chance to show up in the court and the case was postponed by judge to Dec. 20th 2013, Later on I have received a copy of a letter addressed to the same judge from the Plaintiff that stated the attorney has missed the case with a 5 minutes difference by getting late to the court, and they request not to be sanction by judge… which was not true, we have started already 10 minutes after 9;00 because judge was not on time and no one showed up even 20 min. after, and I left the court about 9:25 .
    How ever at the second time December 20th 2013 , now Judge didn’t show up this time and he was busy with a conference call we were told, and now the case in postponed to June 11th by the secretary of the court!!

    but the Law office (plaintiff) paid $100 to a just graduated young attorney to represent them in court, the law office on this case are in northern California in Venture county. the young attorney has requested for a trial date. this young attorney as he tried very hard to talk to me outside the court, had no idea about the case, he did his best to get information out of me and find out if I have any money in pocket, he even offered me now to represent me in the court etc. and said if you have any questions call me and handed his bz card!!

    now I have to wait till June 11th for the court date trial in June 2014.

    this people apparently have no evidence of the debt, how ever they tried numerous time and took it to two different courts in the hope that I wouldn’t show up or not answer, and they win the case by default.
    a friend attorney advised me to send them the'”Request of Production” at the same time file it with court.
    I am not sure what I need to do to get rid of these blood suckers.

    I have petitioned a BK 13 back in 2008 as I was going through foreclosure, to stop the foreclosure. as an attorney charged me over $5000 to save my house, with no result and the house was foreclosed and all the credit cards were added to the BK beside few small cards with low limits. how ever the Bk was dismissed , due to the lack of income, no job to pay for the payments, etc.
    The account that this collection agency pursues was not even there with this large balance as they maintain. $17,000, it is not something that the Bk attorney could missed? he would have added this account to the BK.

    I don’t know where they get this account information, at some time I have transferred many cards balances to new cards with low interest. I am not sure if this one was one of those or not!!
    I was told now I need to do Discovery or “Request for production ” and if they come back with the same one page paper for evidence,
    I should go back to judge and request for dismissal of the case for lack of evidence or production.
    1) Please advise if this is the way to do it right, and what are the importance to put on that form to request for production.?
    I am frustrated and this case going almost 2 years now, I have no money to pay for attorneys or pay anything for the account that I am not even sure about. filling BK chapter 13 didn’t stop the foreclosure and my house was foreclosed in 2008. since then no credit card company has granted me any credit, so this account if existed must have been before that time which was till 2012 already over 4 years…
    2) I have also pulled my credit report in 2011 , there was no account with this information but now in 2012 -2013 this collection agency reporting late payment on the account, I have no agreement with them and didn’t pay a dime to them.
    3) they try hard by taking it to two different courts? can they do that and for how long?
    4) Are these arguments strong enough to present to judge or they may come with different tricks that I am not aware of.

    • Chanti

      Please inform me with the recent update on your case. Thanks.

  • Parrot Sarnoso

    If you have some other debts, you can consider to file for Chapter 7.

  • Charles

    My wife recently received a summons and complaint from a debt collector. We reside in the state of Texas. Back in April of 2011 she was contact by Dillard’s and set up a settlement offer and payment arrangements of $910 for 3 months. Supposedly this would settle the debt. She made all 3 payments on time and without fail. Now a couple of years later a collector is suing her for the unpaid amount that was suppose to be written off. Here is my question….how should we respond to the summons. We have until Monday Feb 17th. Do you have a sample letter that we can use? Thank you so much.

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Charles – Before looking for template responses to election lawsuits online, you may want to consider talking with an experienced debt defense attorney. Most offer a no cost initial consult where you can talk about your situation, get feedback, and your bearings on what to do next. There are some fantastic consumer law attorneys in Texas. You can locate some at http://www.naca.net

      You do want to file an answer in time, and simply denying you owe the debt would appear to suffice in your situation (you already resolved this). Did you get the settlement agreement in writing at the time? Can you still access the bank account records that will show those payments you made?

  • Bill Porter

    Jill I called the Courthouse today to find out about the letter I received. They said “oh disregard that, we received the paperwork about your bankruptcy.” I was very confused about everything because my attorney was gone and no one to speak to. Thank you for getting back to me. I am glad I called the courthouse. I was very mad at them because they said they were not responsible for letting me know about the new information. I guess its good I decided to call them. Life is tough.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Hang in there. It should be behind you soon.

  • Teresa

    After answering the debt collectors interrogatories, we sent our own questions for them but they have not responded. It has been several months and they had 30 days to respond to the requested information. How do we move forward to get the case dismissed with prejudice?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Teresa – Generally speaking, you would need to file a motion with the court. But you should run your legal issues by an experienced collection defense attorney in your state. You may be able to locate one who is familiar with your local courts, judges, collection attorneys and creditors at http://www.naca.net

    • Parrot Sarnoso

      You need to file a Motion to Compel, if they do not answer after the Motion to Compel, they are in Contempt with the Court. Then the Judge will decide, if punish them, fine them or vacate.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What do you mean your attorney is gone and you can’t talk with him? Do you mean temporarily? Do not pay this other attorney until you have talked to your attorney.

    If you file for bankruptcy then you generally are protected by the automatic stay. But you need to talk with your attorney asap to make sure that none of your property is at risk because of the judgment.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Glynda – I would really encourage you to get help from an attorney if at all possible. They will be represented by an attorney and you should too. Do you have a legal aid office in your area? That is one place to try. If not, consider talking with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. They should offer you a free or low cost consultation and can at least help you understand what might happen here.

    Hang in there.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    There may be nuances to that process, but generally, yes they can.

    If you are concerned about how that is possible, and how you may be able to defend against the collection action, try locating an experienced debt defense attorney near you through http://www.naca.net

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Diana – Because you are being sued, you should talk with an experienced debt collection defense attorney about your options.

    Some additional things to consider:

    If you want to take care of this yourself, without the additional cost of an attorney, you generally have to do that through the attorney collector suing you at this point. Calling their office to discuss settlement and putting a stop to this, is unavoidable.

    I am not a fan of monthly payment plans at this stage of collection, and for those who are concerned about their credit rating. That is because the payment plan is often only accepted if you consent or stipulate to a judgment. I do understand when there is no alternative to affordable monthly payments, and they are a good way to get an agreement in place so as to avoid wage garnishment, lines and bank levies (where applicable).

    If you were to settle this in one lump sum, depending on the creditors policies, the collection attorney, and your financial hardship, you could target anywhere between 50 to 100%.

    I understand you are worried about other bills, and falling behind. It is what it is sometimes.

    What amount of money can you pool together from whatever sources in order to settle this in one payment?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    So sorry to hear that. First, for the tax issues, you should be eligible for voluntary tax assistance. If they can’t help, I would suggest you contact the Taxpayer Advocate’s office. The Complete Guide to Finding Tax Help

    As for the debt collector, it may be proper service if they can’t otherwise locate you. I can’t say for sure as it depends on state law. But you must respond. I’d suggest you reach out to a legal aid office near your relative’s address. They are usually willing to help or at least point you in the right direction. You need to do this asap before a default judgment is entered and makes your life that much more complicated.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Dee – I am so sorry I don’t know. Probably the state in which the contract was signed, but I am not certain.

  • Diana

    Hello… I just got served with court papers (sued) for a debt from a few years ago (creditor). I live in California. Papers state I have 30 days to answer back to court. A bit nervous/scared since I don’t know much on what to do. I do owe the money and had some financial hardship issues in the past but do want to take care of the matter. I don’t have all the money up front. I don’t want any serious issues, more money owed and mainly my credit getting hurt even worse (hoping to purchase a home soon). What can I do? Need some advise… Can I try to fix this without going to court?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Collection lawsuits can be resolved without a judgment. Ideally, I suggest you look at all of your options to pay the debt by negotiating a settlement when you cannot afford to pay all of it.

      How much are you being sued for?
      What amount of money can you pool together to settle?

    • Parrot Sarnoso

      Diana, you need to answer the Complaint as soon as possible!!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Sabrina – You may be able to get the motion vacated if you were not properly served notice of the lawsuit, but you’ll likely need the help of a consumer law attorney to pursue this. You may want to start by contacting your state attorney general’s office to see if they know of other complaints like yours against this company. You can also find a consumer law attorney by visiting Naca.net. We’ve written two other articles that discuss this issue: How to Kill Zombie Judgments on Your Credit Report and Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    In most states judgments can accrue interest. I am not saying they have calculated it correctly but it’s possible that they were adding interest charges. We wrote about that here: Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt? Have you asked the attorney’s office how they arrived at that amount? If I were in your shoes, I would put that request in writing via certified mail.

    If they don’t provide a satisfactory response and you really don’t want to talk with a consumer law attorney then you could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Here’s what the FDCPA says about venue:

    (a) Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer shall —

    …(1), bring such action only in the judicial district or similar legal entity —

    (A) in which such consumer signed the contract sued upon; or

    (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.

    I don’t know if they are allowed to bring the suit in Michigan where you work since you live outside of the country but it doesn’t say that is permissible.

    I am going to have to recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney to get clear on your rights here.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Ask your mortgage loan officer what kind of documentation you need. Typically they can fax a letter on letterhead but an email would not be sufficient. Your loan officer should know what will satisfy the underwriters.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Vince – This is a question for your bankruptcy attorney. Can you contact him or her?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds like you are dealing with a debt collection scammer. That would be a very old debt and in most states outside the statute of limitations. 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

  • Cindy

    I am getting served for a car loan debt that is not mine. I did not sign for it. It is my boyfriends, and they have not repossessed the car yet. Why is my name on the suit filing. ? I looked up filed suits in my county to see who was trying to serve me and why- I am in Texas. The insurance is in my name, but that is it. Depending on out come will this go on my credit? How can they have my name added to this filing?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Here is the good news Cindy. In Texas you have a terrific resource called the Texas Consumer Complaint Center http://www.texasccc.com/. They should be able to point you in the right direction. If not, I would encourage you to talk with a consumer law attorney about how to respond. It doesn’t sound like you should have been sued but you need to respond in order to stop the action against you.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is very clear on venue.

    (a) Venue
    Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer shall—
    (1) in the case of an action to enforce an interest in real property securing the consumer’s obligation, bring such action only in a judicial district or similar legal entity in which such real property is located; or
    (2) in the case of an action not described in paragraph (1), bring such action only in the judicial district or similar legal entity—
    (A) in which such consumer signed the contract sued upon; or
    (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.

    You don’t live in Utah – did you sign the contract there?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know Beth.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You don’t have to wait to be served with a lawsuit to file bankruptcy, and if you are even considering going that route I recommend you talk with a bankruptcy attorney sooner or later.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Are you really being sued or are they just threatening to sue? Are you dealing with a legitimate collector?

  • Sed

    I’m being sued for a loan I couldn’t afford to pay anymore, because I lost my job and I’m still jobless. Now the loan company is calling it fraud because while trying to collect the automatic payment I switched banks because they kept putting my account in default. And I ended I owing the bank every week. Can I include this debt in my bankruptcy ?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I don’t see why not, but the person to ask is a bankruptcy attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds like the case was dismissed due to any activity – which means just what it sounds like. The plaintiff didn’t follow through and It’s been dismissed. If they had obtained a judgment then you should see one on your credit reports.

    Does it say dismissed with or without prejudice? If it was dismissed without prejudice (which would be likely in this type of situation) they can refile.

    Please note, though, I am not an attorney and this isn’t legal advice. If you are worried about a debt collection lawsuit I recommend you talk with a consumer law/bankruptcy attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    John – Contact a consumer law attorney. If they believe the law firm (which likely qualifies as a collection agency) is breaking the law, then you won’t have to pay the attorney’s fees. That’s because in the case of FDCPA violations, the collector will have to pay the attorney’s fees.

    And even if they don’t feel you have a good case, it will be well worth it for you to pay for a couple of hours of their time to get some advice on how to handle this yourself. The other side will have attorneys who understand court procedures and you will have to be well-prepared to defend yourself. Plus the attorney can tell you how these kinds of cases typically proceed in your area.

    This is not a small amount of money, and if you can prevent a judgment from being entered against you, it will be well worth it.

    • john

      Would it be advantages to file the dispute first asking for a copy I the contract as well as payment. Billing inquires so I can consult with an attorney and have paperwork in hand ? This way we can see what information is available to me. Thank you for your help on this matter.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        I just don’t know how the procedures work in your state and don’t want you to end up in a situation where an honest misstep results in a deficiency judgment against you.

    • Keynan Kinard

      I have a court next week. Involving me not making payments since October. What’s the outcome I can expect by going to court on, next wednesday?

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        If you don’t raise a defense to the lawsuit then you can expect a judgment to be entered in favor of the creditor/collector. Once you have a judgment against you it likely opens a new set of collection options. However, consumers can often be successful challenging these lawsuits. That’s why I suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in these issues.

        Please also read: Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes, it’s worth a try. Collection lawsuits are often settled before they go to trial. You may want to read this articles first: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit as well as articles by our contributor Michael Bovee who writes a lot about settlement.

  • A.G.

    Hi Gerri, I have a private student loan that I am being sued for. I have already been served so I know there really is no escaping this situation and believe me I am not trying to escape I am just looking to resolve it. The student loan amount is over 100k do you think realistically there can be a settlement agreement for something under 30% of what I owe? I really need some answers because it is alot and I am not dealing too well this. I have high blood pressure and everytime this situation comes up i get super depressed.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I wish I could say “yes” but it’s tough. Without the option of bankruptcy, they have no incentive to settle – especially for such a small amount. I would really recommend you talk with a consumer lawyer well versed in student loan issues. You can visit Joshua Cohen’s site TheStudentLoanLawyer.com for a free 15 minute consultation. I’d recommend you start there.

  • Jamie

    The debt collector and I came to settlement after suit was filed. I have something in writing with the settlement agreement, but still have not received the papers they said they would be sending for me to sign so that they could send them to the court. I am worried about a “default judgment” being entered even though a settlement has been reached. I have called twice and they told me that it is in their records that a settlement has been reached and there is nothing else I need to do until we receive the paperwork. Should I be worried?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I would be concerned too. However, if your settlement agreement clearly states they won’t proceed in court, then you’d have something to back your side of the story up if they didn’t keep up their end of the bargain. (I assume the agreement is clear on that?) I can’t give you legal advice, but if I were in your shoes, I would continue to do what you are doing and be a squeaky wheel!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds fishy to me. I am not an attorney but according to my sources the statute of limitations for most consumer debts in Georgia is 6 years. It sounds like that time period has elapsed.

    If you get an actual court summons then you can deal with that, but my guess is they are just trying to scare you into paying something.

    In all of these situations where a collector calls and tries to get consumers to pay by phone while threatening dire consequences, my response is the same: Tell them to put it in writing.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Crystal – what state did this take place in? Did the attorney’s office identity themselves?

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    AJP – Yes, there are differences. It would help to know what state you are in, and whether it is the home equity loan originator that is suing, or a successor, or debt purchaser is suing.

    I can offer more feedback if you post more of those details.

    It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney of your own when sued. You should look to connect with a debt collection defense, or foreclosure defense attorney, licensed in your state. Most of this type of attorney offer a no cost initial consult, and it is a great way to get your bearings about your options and next steps. Try to locate one in your city, or one nearby, at http://www.naca.net

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    With a property lien in place, judgment creditors are often reluctant to work with you. You can indeed offer a reduced settlement, but will should be realistic about what they will accept.

    How much is owed? How much time do you need to raise the funds to settle with them?

    • Justneedmoretime

      I owe about 4500.00 this includes lawyer fees and late fees. I plan on paying the debt, but simply need more time… about a year. I am not planning on moving since I have a lien on the property. I am hoping that since they worked with me once, they will work with me again.

      • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

        How much of your agreed monthly payments can you afford to make? Are your current HOA dues being paid?

        How did you respond to the summons you received 3 weeks ago?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I can’t think of any scenario that would prompt this. But to be safe, I suggest you contact the Texas Consumer Complaint Center. They are a great resource and should be able to help: http://www.texasccc.com/

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Have you checked your credit reports to see if a judgment has been entered against you?

  • SeeYouToo

    I was just served a notice. I live in California. I looked all over the court website for a form to use in response. Why do they make it so hard? I can’t find anything. What format should I use to respond? Do I get it stamped by the courts and then serve the plaintiff?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You’re right. They often leave it up to the lawyers to respond. We can’t help with that, unfortunately. You may want to try to contact a consumer law attorney in your area for help.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Kay – From what you shared I would encourage you to speak with an experienced FDCPA attorney about the threat of being sued for collection. That type of threat is real enough. Collectors do sue after all. But it is not something that should be said as a collection ploy, and if there is not plan or intention to sue. You shared enough detail to raise at least some skepticism about there being any intent to sue.

    Check out naca.net for an experienced collection violation attorney. This type of attorney will generally offer an initial consult at no cost. And often enough, take FDCPA claim clients on without charging a retainer.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Shelly – Anytime you are dealing with collections in the courts it is a good idea to run your scenario, and questions, by an experienced consumer law attorney in your state.

    Generally, beyond the balance being asserted as owed, collection costs in the courts (at least for this type of unsecured debt) can often include:

    Attorney fees (they have that outlined already).
    Court costs (filing fees and the like).
    Prejudgment interest (if allowed)
    Post judgment interest (set by the court and capped in most states).

    If you agree to pay in a single payment, or over a series of payments, get the entire agreement in writing prior to paying. Be sure you understand every part of the agreement. You can post questions for general feedback, but should connect with an attorney of your own too.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Once a loan has been sold to a collection agency, that loan is no longer owned by the original lender. If you are considering bankruptcy, though, we encourage you to seek the help of an attorney — and to be sure you have a clear understanding of what you are doing. For more, see 5 Bankruptcy Myths Debunked.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Vincent —

    Sorry you got a letter like that on Christmas Eve. Ask the collection agency to verify the debt. This is your right. Here is a Credit.com resources describing rights you should be aware of: Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights

    Good luck, and let us know what happens.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Ken —
    We are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. However, because you are being sued, you might want to hire a lawyer to represent you.

  • Gomali G

    I moved two years ago and the Post Office no longer forwards mail. If the Debt Collectors do not have my current address, how will I know if a lawsuit has been filed against me?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      That’s a good question. It is possible you could be “served” at your old address and not get the notice.

      However, debt collectors are pretty good at skip tracing. They use credit reports and other databases to find consumers.

      Still, it would be a good idea for you to get your free annual credit reports to make sure your address is up to date on all of them.

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      I would add:

      You can contact any collection agency or debt owner and update them with new information and keep a record of that.

      But if you are trying to keep a low profile, but still concerned about not knowing you were sued, set a weekly/bi-weekly calendar reminder to check the relevant courts records for that prior address and search for your name. This could be hassle free if those courts provide electronic access, as many do these days.

      I can offer additional feedback about your risk profile if I knew:

      Name of original creditor?
      Name of last debt collector contacting you?
      If the account was already placed with an attorney collector, who that is?
      Who, if anyone other than your original lender, is showing this debt on your credit report?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Mac – Please talk to a consumer law attorney who handles bankruptcy and similar matters immediately. You can visit Nacba.org for a referral to one in your area. They should be able to answer your question or point you to someone who can.

    And our condolences for your loss.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    First, we’re not lawyers and cannot offer legal advice. That said, we’d want a lawyer to look over the documents involved. Good luck to you.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I wish we could help but these are legal questions that really require an answer from an attorney.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    chericaa – Unfortunately we don’t have a sample letter. Can you talk with a consumer law attorney who represents consumers in debt collection cases? If the debt collector is breaking the law they may be willing to represent you for free. Another option may be to show up in court and explain to the judge that the debt is too old. (It always makes me nervous, though, to have consumers show up without legal representation. The other side will have lawyers and you’ll be at something of a disadvantage.) There may also be a legal aid service in your area that can help you for free.

  • ESinAZ

    I am being sued for my ex-husband’s defaulted credit card. I have no notice of this until I was served with court documents very early in the morning. How do I fight this? Who should I contact?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Was this a joint account you shared with your ex? If so then you are jointly and individually liable for the debt and the credit card company may try to collect by all legal means. If it is not a joint debt, do you live in a community property state? If so, and the debt was incurred after your marriage then it’s possible they may be able to pursue you for payment.

      Regardless, I would really encourage you to talk with a consumer law attorney as soon as possible to find out what your rights and options are in this situation. You can locate one at NACA.net.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Check your credit reports. Your judgment should be listed on there. If there is none listed, then you may be dealing with a scammer – hard to tell.

    As for the new collector, judgments are bought and sold. So it’s possible that happened. Or it’s possible your debt was sold multiple times and one company got a judgment the other didn’t know about.

    So request written documentation from the second collector, and do a little digging to try to find out exactly what’s going on. (You can talk with the collector, too. They may simply not be aware of what happened with this debt.)

    You may find this helpful:

    Creditor Gets A Judgment: Now What?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Kris – Your concern is valid. If wage garnishment is allowed in your state then they may be able to try to garnish your wages if they successfully sue you. My suggestion is that you talk with a consumer law attorney to find out what your options are – and what can happen if you aren’t able to pay or resolve this. Consumer bankruptcy attorneys are very knowledgeable in these matters and you should be able to get a low-cost or free consultation.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I would really encourage you to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney asap. The attorney should know what your rights and recourse is for this debt and at least try to help you avoid getting a judgment against you, which would lead to further problems for you. Visit Nacba.org to find one. They should offer a free or low-cost consultation. Another option is your local legal aid office. Some are very good.

    Please reach out to an attorney asap. You may not have much time to challenge this.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    One of the problems with co-signing is you may not know a bill is going unpaid until it affects your credit. When the bill isn’t paid for whatever reason, the lender tries to collect from the co-signer. (In fact, the lender anticipated this; that’s why a co-signer was needed.) One way to address the problem of a co-signer not knowing about late payments is to have the payments sent to the co-signer’s address. You can have the borrower send payments to you, and then you can pay the creditor. That way, you can know for sure payments are being made (because if they aren’t, you could be held responsible for payments and late fees — and your credit score would also take a hit). The best advice about co-signing is not to do it. Here’s a post about how co-signing can affect your credit score.
    <a href="http://blog.credit.com/2013/06/co-signing-affect-credit-score/&quot;

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Dawn —
    If the hospital is willing to accept payment, ask them to pull the bill back from the collection agency. We wrote about that here: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit That could also help get it off your credit reports (simply paying it won’t do that).

    If you pay in full in advance, don’t wait until it goes to court — send the collection attorney a certified letter with the receipt showing it has been paid. Unfortunately, we don’t know whether the collector can still charge a fee at that point. We’d suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney asap.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Tom –

    Talk with a consumer law attorney. You may have a defense to the lawsuit. Most consumer law attorneys who regularly handle these kinds of cases will offer you a free or low cost consultation. Visit Naca.net to find one.

  • GottaFaceIt

    Would you please tell me which state’s SOL would apply for a Discover card debt originally incurred in Massachusetts (6 yrs), for a current TX resident (4 yrs) or DE (3 yrs) since Discover is a DE corp? And would the venue be District Court in the county where I now reside? I have not been served, and was trying to find if they had filed suit by looking at online dockets for my current county and within 150 miles. Would Discover typically file a pre-suit notice? Does Discover sell their debt to 3rd parties or collect through an attorney? Would the date of last activity be the date I last made payment or the date I called them to discuss settlement? an if the latter is the case, how do they prove that date, with a recording of the phone call? I can not remember if the discussion involved an admittance of what I owed. Would that matter to ‘restart the clock’ on the SLO?
    Thank you. Very helpful answers to others’ questions.

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      You will want to get your SOL and other legal questions addressed by an experienced debt defense attorney in Texas. Most of this type of attorney will offer a no cost initial consult.

      Generally speaking, the SOL in your current state of residence would apply. But there are instances where you could bring the creditors “home” state SOL as a defense against a collection suit.

      Venue is often determined by your county of residence, and also the amount of the debt being collected.

      Discover has not been an active debt seller in the past few years. And they do work with attorney debt collectors frequently.

      The date of last activity is generally the last date a payment was applied to the account. I understand the concern about accounts being re-aged for collection purposes if the debt is admitted, but I just do not see many creditors use later calls regarding collections, or payment and settlement discussion, as a means to restart the clock. This is definitely something you should discuss with an experienced consumer law attorney in your state.

      My overwhelming experience is that Discover will first place an account with an in state attorney, who will send at least one written collection notice prior to filing a collection suit.

      Do they have your correct address?
      Have you received any collection notices from attorneys in your state? If so, when?
      What is the amount being collected?
      When did you last make a payment?
      What is your goal with this account?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Mark – paying a collection lawsuit won’t automatically remove the record from your credit report. Instead, the collector will update the record to show that it’s been paid, but it will remain in your credit report for 7 years from the date the account first went to serious delinquency status. Paying a collection won’t improve your credit score, but it will keep things from getting worse. You can read more about this topic in the following resources from Credit.com:

    Will Paying a Collection Improve My Credit Score?
    Will Paying a Collection Account Remove It From My Credit Report?
    How Long Does Negative Information Stay on My Credit Report?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Lebo, you won’t go to prison. This article actually explains in depth the steps you need to take to defend the lawsuit so we’d encourage you to re-read through it and follow the advice that Gerri gives above. The absolute worst case scenario would be that the creditor would be awarded a judgment against you, which means you’ll eventually have to pay the debt and they could garnish your wages or seize your bank accounts depending on your individual state laws. However, if after reading this article you still have questions and need help defending yourself in court, we’d encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney. A good place to find one in your area is http://www.NACA.net. It sounds terrifying, but if you can negotiate with them prior to the court hearing, that would be your best bet.

  • MNguy

    Hi & Thanks

    A collection agency just drained my bank account on an old credit card debt. I had asked them to verify the debt but all they sent me was a disclosure form from the orig CC. (THat didnt seem enough to me)

    IT was 2 years ago and i dont have much of the paper work and i moved out of state. They took all my money to live on. I had funded the bank account from my 401k too. I dont know what to do?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      I would encourage your next step be contacting an attorney about your options. Few attorneys specialize in collection defense, and mitigating the results of collection activity that you are experiencing. You want to consult with an attorney who has a practice that focuses in this area. I would try to locate one near you through http://www.naca.net – select find an attorney, then narrow your search by state. Most of the attorneys you contact using that site as a resource will offer a no cost initial consult.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in some states so it may be worth contacting your insurance company and seeing what they say about your state and the policy. They may be able to give you advice about your options and what to expect when something like this happens. Unless your insurance policy included an uninsured motorist coverage, small claims court may be the next step.

  • Jill

    If I just went to court (before reading this article) and a judgement was made against me, is there anything else that can be done in the fight (other than bankruptcy). Can I sue them back and force them to provide the documentation you note in your article… or am I too late? They wont work with us. We are currently on one income as my 5 year old son goes through cancer treatments. They didn’t care, however. I wish I had read your article BEFORE we went to court. The debt collector didnt even show up probably because they know the average Joe knows nothing.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You can try to get a consumer lawyer to challenge the judgment. Search Naca.net for one in your area. If you have a valid defense, the attorney may be able to get the judgment vacated. As you mentioned, the other option may be bankruptcy.

      Jill – I’m really sorry to hear about your son and hope he responds well to his treatments.

    • Tanya

      If you had paid what you owed you wouldn’t have been taken to court. I’m sure you didn’t care when they were calling you to collect the debt so why should they care about your situation and your sons?

      • Nancy May Antram

        Maybe she was busy taking her 5 yr old to the hospital when they called. Have a heart and grow some compassion.

    • Camden

      Its a terrible stress having debt to deal with let alone dealing with a child having cancer. I cannot imagine how awful it must be, sending you prayers for your little boy that he beats cancer. Stay strong.

    • Robert

      Apply for an APPEAL ASAP. Keep Track of all the calls made to you DATE TIMES (VERY IMPORTANT) Let then speak, do not say anything other then “We are looking into this matter” Have a good day. Do not pay anything even if they ask. Stick to we are looking into this matter. Very important to keep all records of calls. It is against the law for them “MAKING HARRASSING CALLS FOR PAYMENTS”

      5. Sue them back

      If a debt collector has violated provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you may be able to sue them. “Once you attach their lawsuit as Exhibit A to your lawsuit against them the tide turns, and if you or your attorney knows what they are doing, the alleged debtors can get damages and attorney’s fees and costs,” says Howard. He’s referring to the fact that consumers who successfully sue for violations of the FDCPA are entitled to statutory damages of $1000, plus punitive and economic damages, if awarded. In addition, the collection agency will be required to pay the attorney’s fees and costs.

      6. Bring in the big guns

      Debtors often hesitate to contact an attorney when they are being sued over a debt they owe; perhaps due to embarrassment, or maybe they figure they can’t afford one. Attorneys who regularly take on these types of cases, however, will typically offer a free consultation. And they will often represent a consumer for free if they think the collector has broken the law. That’s because they will expect to collect their fees from the plaintiff. “Do not be afraid or intimidated to call or email a consumer protection or bankruptcy lawyer for a quick word of advice,” Ginsberg says.

      Once the collection agency is notified that you are represented by an attorney, it may be much more amenable to settling the debt, rather than trying to duke it out in court.

      ps. I loss my wife to cancer and I thought I had to keep paying her bills in the tune of over a Million Dollars. Keep in touch. I am not a lawyer just a person with some experience with your situation.

    • Tina

      just wondering how the outcome came out .. I too went into debt when my child became sick with cancer and now i am being sued by a credit card company

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    It sounds like you have given up Jim. If you legitimately do not believe the bill required your prior approval, and that the fees are not justified, you need to participate in the court process.

    I hate to have to say this, but you may need an attorney to help you fight off another attorney. It would be best to work with a skilled collection defense attorney.

    Yes, you can negotiate a reduced settlement in this kind of scenario. But doing that means having the funds available to pay the agreement you reach. Are you in a position to pay a reduced settlement?

    If there is a judgment entered against you, your wages could be garnished (depending on the state you live in), and your bank account could be levied.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Your mother in law has put your husband in a terrible dilemma. She committed identity theft and if he doesn’t want to pay this bill he’s going to have to be willing to file a police report. Otherwise, he is going to have to try to resolve the debt with the creditor. There is some good information about the problem of family identity theft here.

    As for the garnishment, I suggest you both talk with a bankruptcy attorney. He doesn’t necessarily have to file, but the attorney will be able to explain his options with regard to the garnishment.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Heather – Please talk with a bankruptcy attorney right away. The fact that you can’t afford the debt is not typically a defense against one of these lawsuits, and if they get a judgment against you then it will make it easier for them to collect. However, given what you are saying, your income may be safe from creditors and the attorney may be able to help you get them to drop this case. The first consultation should be free. You can also find out if there is a legal aid clinic in your area that can help you for free.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    My understanding is that it depends on whether the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice (can’t refile) or without prejudice (can). But I am not an attorney so you’ll want to get legal advice. If you still live in Texas (guessing from TXGirl!) then you’ve got a great resource available to you in the Texas Consumer Complaint Center. http://www.texasccc.com/

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    You should not have to pay anything if you paid the creditor off in full. There are some odd one off situations that can happen that require you to be proactive, if for no other reason than to make sure the debt is reflected accurately on your credit report.

    Would you mind posting a comment reply with more details?

    Who is the original creditor?
    Who is the debt collector?
    What is the balance they are saying is owed minus what you have already paid?

    • Kim

      WOW, thanks so much for the speedy quick reply. The creditor is my Home Owners Association. The collector is a local financial place. They said in the original letter, the one that came a few days after I had paid my HOA that I owed $630ish. We had sent the HOA a check for $299 which was the amount they said we owed including the late fees. They cashed the check. The collector is now saying we owe $652. I’m not sure they actually deducted the $299.

  • Kim

    If I made a payment PRIOR to getting notified that my account had been turned over to a collector by just a few days, am I still responsible for the collector’s fees? The creditor cashed the check. When the collector sent me a ledger showing payments, the date the ledger shows for cashing the check in question was cashed a month prior to what the ledger says and we have our bank statement as proof of this. So it leads me to somewhat question the accuracy of any of the dates on the ledger. Also, at this time, the creditor is sending the collector money each month to pay off the balance and that tells me I am not responsible for it. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Kim – I am not sure I fully understand the scenario. Are you saying you paid off the debt before it was sent to collections? If that’s the case then it should not be listed on your credit report as a collection account. You can dispute it with the credit reporting agencies and the collection agency reporting it.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Daniel – There’s nothing that prohibits you from filing bankruptcy when you own a home and the property is paid for but you have to be careful here. If you own your home, there’s a chance the bankruptcy trustee will require the home be sold to pay your creditors. It really depends on your individual situation and your debts. When considering bankruptcy, we always advise consulting with a bankruptcy attorney so that you understand your options and make the best decision for your individual financial situation.

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  • Richard

    Can you provide me with stare decisis ruling against a debt collector consequent of a broken chain of possession (custody) of the alleged debt? Likewise for failing to produce an accounting evidencing the creation of the alleged debt? Of course, time is of the essence in that I’m already in discovery and approaching court-ordered mediation; In other words, your late response = no response. Thank you. R.

  • Maria

    They may be able to prove something and get some type of judgment. Judgments are dischargeable in bankruptcy in my state. I do no have a lot of other debt that I do not pay other than private student loans already in default and less than $1000 is medical debt. I just never have anything left over and have already payed thousands off. I do not pay them because I believe that they are incorrect or the cause of going back to the hospital was caused by them, I have one hospital that put $35 on my credit after getting into a pissing match with the billing girl over an $800 error they made. My credit will be ruined for years due to student loan, I really have no incentive to pay. I already own my home, have friends that can finance cars for me, and credit cards I pay on time. In other words after becoming disabled i gave up a long time ago.

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  • http://ccomwp.wpengine.com/2012/09/seven-ways-to-defend-a-debt-collection-lawsuit/ casing

    Can I recover anything from a previous case of 2007, for a foreclosure action that derived from the predatory lending blunder. A Hearing from the Greenspan and others stated before congress, stated that those loans were bogus. When I tried to recover, I was out done, because of the arbitration clause. I had all proof that I had paid until I lost my job, but the company had fail to service the contract, unbeknowns to me, the actual lending company was secretly filing bankruptcy and transferring all the clients payments into the bankruptcy. when the new company started raising the same mortgage payments, and charging bogus late fees of $37.50, and the payments weren’t late. I figured out what was going on, so I confronted them. I caught on to the trick of their merger. One company one start the loan process and run for about five years, then then file bankruptcy. The other company would then take over and start raising the peoples payments to some ridiculous payment from $308 to $1,800 and say you are behind on your payments. in the mean while, you are on the phone with a foreign English person that is asking you do you understand what I am saying. All of this is buying the first company time to file and complete their bankruptcy.

    I had them at one point, I started in 2002-2003 when I noticed that they were going up on a $308 payment. I was not late, until I lost the job, but I had been writing them to credit my account with 5 payments that they had not credited it with. I lost in an arbitration hearing, because the arbitrator said that he had a piece of paper in his hand where his boss had ruled that he had to settle my case off the log. i was tired after three or four hours of submitting all types of document that showed they were still in a breach of contract for failure to service the loan, misappropriation of payments.
    Note; This company that filed bankruptcy took all of the payments from 1999-2004 in the bankruptcy. I was told during my period of winning, that I could only get money from May 2003 to the present date in 2004. well that leads me to believe that they still owe me, because the new company received a trade-in, of a value of $6,000, 16,900, and my payments of about 19,900 for a $34,000. The past two weeks, I see their name calling me back to collect the 19,000 they couldn’t collect from the other company. I had paid over $19,000, and they received over 16,000 for the auction.
    Because the new company’s eagerness to shut my mouth, they hurried to get the case solved. They also wrote other clients and started the ripple affect of foreclosures.
    Is their any defense for those of us that were taken advantage of during those years. We do not qualify for the $8,000, of which I could use that amount right now. Not on another home, but back in my pocket.
    Is there any way to get the congressional hearing of the matter and use that as a defense supporting that the lender knew what type of loans these were.

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