Tips For Dealing With Debt Collection Lawsuits And Claims

Having a Process Server serve you legal papers at home or work is not a pleasant experience. If it happens to you, there are things you should do to save you time, money, and protect your privacy.

The ideal solution is to prevent the debt from ever getting to the point where a lawsuit is filed. Creditors and Collectors do not want to file a lawsuit right away, and will usually exhaust all collection efforts before a lawsuit is filed. If you get a letter or phone call from a collector, stay calm and confirm if the information they have is correct. If they are a collection agency, you should request, usually in writing, that they provide you with proof that they own or have been assigned the debt. You should also request proof that you validly owe the debt, such as original contracts, complete history of the account, or the original credit card application. You have the right to request these items, and if they cannot provide them to you, they may not be able to collect.

If the collector becomes abusive, keep a detailed log of who called you, time of day, what they said, who else they contacted about your debt, if they contacted you at work after being put on notice not to, and the names of any people you know who personally witnessed the call. Keep any voicemails, answering machine messages, letters, emails or texts they leave you, but do not record them without permission. All this information is useful because they may have violated Fair Debt Collection Practices Laws, and you can take them to Court yourself.

If you indeed owe the debt and they complied with all your requests, you do have the option to work out a payment plan if you wish. I do not recommend you give them any bank information such as account numbers and routing numbers. Collectors have been known to raid your account without your knowledge and claim you gave them permission. I also do not recommend giving them post- dated checks since there may not be enough funds in your account when they choose to deposit the check. Money Orders or Cashiers Checks are fine. Make sure you get all agreements in writing, keep proof or copies of all payments made, and when you make your last payment, get a statement from them acknowledging that the account has been fully satisfied (if a Judgment has been entered, you will need a Satisfaction of Judgment to be filed in the Public Records).

If you just got served with a lawsuit, there are things you need to do right away

  1. Do not ignore the lawsuit. There are time limits to respond, usually 20 days in Florida, or a default will be entered against you and the creditor will finish the case without you. Get the papers to a lawyer right away, or if that is not possible, file a response yourself to prevent a default.
  2. Gather any and all documents you may have on the debt. The history of the account is important. You may have paid off the account, or the account has been inactive for so long that it may be too late for them to get a judgment against you and collect the debt.
  3. Be careful what you say, sign, or admit to the creditor or their attorney. Even though a Judgment may be entered against you, there are certain things they cannot take from you if they try to collect on the Judgment. For example, If you are head of household with dependents in Florida, creditors cannot garnish your wages. If you inadvertently acknowledge that you are not head of household, you may have waived that right. It is best to have an experienced attorney deal with the creditor and avoid any direct communication.
  4. If there are any co-signers on the account, they should be aware that you are being sued since they are equally liable for the account.
  5. Do not transfer, sell, or change title to any of your property. If a Judgment is entered against you, the Judgment Creditor may be able to get the property anyway under Fraudulent Transfer Laws.
  6. Hire an experienced Debt Defense attorney. You should also be aware that even with an experienced attorney, your help and cooperation is vital to a good outcome. You will have to produce documents, answer required questions from the creditors attorney, and may have to attend depositions and court hearings. This may require time off from work.

    The time required to represent yourself in a lawsuit can often be overwhelming. There is also much more you need to consider when you are sued for a debt. Each case is different, that is why it is important to call, or fill out and send the short contact form on this page today to schedule your free consultation.