Keep track of shady debt collection tactics for court.
Summary: Being sued by a debt collector can stress you out. You might not know what to do. Should you ignore them? Should you pay? Find out how to react when you're served with a debt collection lawsuit.
If you are a few months past due on your credit card or haven't paid off a loan for a while, your creditor may decide to assign or sell the debt to a third-party debt collection agency. In this case, the debt collector will then attempt to collect the debt. If you continue to ignore the requests of the debt collector to collect this debt, you may find yourself being sued.
If you receive a summons for a debt lawsuit, then you may be confused about what to do next. The most important thing to do is respond. Follow the guidelines outlined below to ensure you make the right move if you are being sued by a debt collector.
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Find Out What Happens When You're Sued by a Debt Collector
If you're being sued by a debt collector, you must understand exactly the timeline of the events you will be going through. Although this might be different from case to case, generally the steps outlined below will be what you will experience.
- You receive a phone call or letter in the mail: This will be from the debt collector notifying you of the debt collection. Expect this to occur when a debt is at least 180 days past due.
- Debt collector sends debt validation letter: The debt collector must send this within five days of contacting you. This should include how much you owe, the name of the creditor, as well as advice on how to dispute the debt if you believe it's not yours.
- If you do not think you owe the debt: You must ask the debt collector for a verification letter. They must send this letter within 30 days of the validation notice.
- If you know you owe the debt: If your debt is legitimate, then you must respond to the debt collector. You should create a plan and negotiate. This might include paying off the debt in full, setting up a payment plan, or negotiating the debt.
- If you do not work to pay or settle the debt: The debt collector will then sue you. You will receive a notice from the court letting you know when to appear.
- Failure to show up in court: If you fail to show up in court then you will receive a default judgment. This means that the judge will rule in favor of the debt collector.
- Wage garnishment: Default judgments come with consequences. This leads to wage garnishment, liens placed on your property, or a frozen bank account.
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Learn What to Do When You're Sued by a Debt Collector
1. Respond to the debt collection lawsuit.
As long as you have verified the legitimacy of the debt, then you must respond to the debt collection lawsuit. This might be something you want to avoid, and ignoring it may seem like a good option. Ignoring is not a good option at all. It's the worst option. Just because you do not respond does not mean that the collector will drop the lawsuit. Instead, it will cause you to miss deadlines and make it more difficult to fight your debt later on.
2. Challenge the debt collector.
Debt collectors are typically third-party agencies. Whether your debt collector was hired by the original creditor after you defaulted, or they purchased your debt, the debt has changed hands more than once.
You may want to challenge the lawsuit if:
- You believe you are the wrong person being sued
- You have already paid off the debt
- The debt amount is wrong
- The statute of limitations has passed
The statute of limitations is the amount of time that a debt collector can legally collect a debt. It ranges from three years up to 20 years depending on where you live and the type of debt you owe.
3. Get validation of the debt.
If you're being sued for debt and you disagree with any of the information given to you in the lawsuit, you may want to file a response. This means you will need to ask for validation of the debt. If they cannot prove the debt, where the debt originally came from, how much you owe, and that it is you who owes the debt.
4. Bring evidence of FDCPA violations.
If your rights have been violated by a debt collector, then you need to bring evidence of this to your trial. As a consumer, you are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Truth in Lending Act for specific violations.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors may not:
- Contact you at odd hours such as outside the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
- Harass you such as using profanity or threatening you harm.
- Partake in unfair practices. This might include threatening to take your property (although they have no legal right to do so) or depositing a post-dated check early.
- Contact you after you have a lawyer.
- Lie, such as telling you they are someone else, or that you owe a different amount.
5. Decide if you want to accept the judgment.
There are many ways you can proceed when it comes to accepting a debt collection lawsuit. If you decide to accept the judgment but do not want to go to court then you will probably want to negotiate out of court.
If you have limited wages and assets then you may actually be judgment proof. This means that your wages cannot be garnished. Additionally, if your debt is so high that you cannot manage it, your final choice is to file for bankruptcy.
6. Negotiate to settle your debt
If your debt is legitimate, then you may be able to have your lawsuit dropped by negotiating a settlement. This is a good option if you know that the debt is yours, and you can afford to pay some of it. This will allow you to avoid going to court altogether.
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Do Not Give Up on Fighting Debt Collectors
Being served with a debt lawsuit may feel scary, but you have options. Do not give in to a debt collector and admit to the debt. Instead, follow the steps to negotiate and force the debt collector to prove your debt. You never know, you may be able to avoid paying your debt or settle for less.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
Respond with SoloSuit
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance
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