How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court
Chloe Meltzer | July 21, 2022
You may have a debt, but you also have a defense.
Summary: Are you being sued by a bill collector for an old debt? Make the right defense and learn how to beat a bill collector in court.
Debt collectors can be both collection agencies or lawyers that collect debts on behalf of clients. There are also bill collection companies that buy older debts from creditors or other businesses. Their job is to attempt to collect them to make their money back. Other names for a bill collector are debt collection agencies, debt collection companies, or debt buyers.
Why a bill collector is calling you
- You have a creditor that believes you are past due on a debt. Creditors often have their own debt collectors, but they can also refer or sell your debt to an outside bill collector.
- To locate someone you know. This is legal as long as they do not reveal that they are a debt collector.
- Debt buyer bought your debt and is attempting to collect on it.
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If you are concerned about a bill collector calling you then you need to learn your rights and how to stop the calls should they be too much. You can also ask them to stop contacting you, but this will not stop them from taking you to court or reporting your debt to the credit bureau. If you do choose to ignore them, you may end up being sued for debt. This can lead to a worsening of the situation.
If you do not owe the debt you are being contacted about, or you have already paid the debt, then it is important to take action to fight it.
Respond to the lawsuit promptly
Often the number one mistake that borrowers make when being sued for a debt is not responding. This seems incredibly simple but it is very easy to fall victim to.
The notice will typically arrive as a summons and complaint. If you owe the debt you may try to ignore it and hope it goes away, but this is not the best course of action. If you fail to respond an automatic judgment will be placed against you, therefore the bill collector will be able to garnish your wages, pull money directly from your bank account to satisfy your debt, and even possess your assets. They may even be able to add attorney's fees, court costs, or interest to the balance. This is not worth it.
This is why you need to respond with an Answer.
File an Answer with SoloSuit in 15 minutes and win in court.
Sending an answer
Once the plaintiff (the bill collector) files a lawsuit, the matter will be put before the court. This means you can no longer respond through the phone or even a letter. You will need to respond specifically with a legal document called an Answer. Things to remember when sending your Answer (response):
- Always force the bill collector to prove you owe the debt
- Never admit liability for the debt
- 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 as certified mail to the plaintiff
- Respond within the amount of time on the summons (typically 20 to 30 days)
You must respond in the allotted amount of time on the response because if you do not it is the same as not responding at all. Then, an automatic judgment will be placed against you. Once a judgment is entered you may no longer be able to fight the debt at all.
Challenging the bill collector
One of the best ways to avoid a debt lawsuit is to challenge their right to sue. Most often the debt has been sold many times at this point, and the entity pursuing you will be required to show proof that they can do this. What you need to realize is that the judge is not going to look for this information on their own, so you will need to suggest and ask for proof.
Make the right defense the right way with SoloSuit.
Legal proof that you owe the debt
- Credit agreement that you signed
- Documentation of the chain of custody of all paperwork
- That you are responsible for the debt
- The bill collector has the right to sue you
- You owe a specified amount of money
Examples of proof
- Balance increased when you made purchases
- Balance increased through fees or other amounts that were part of an agreement you signed
- Balance is accurate and reflects previous payments
Although it might seem like this is easy information to obtain, because accounts often change hands multiple times before the lawsuit even begins, it is not uncommon for this paper trail to be lost. This is why it is essential that you ask for this information. If they fail to provide this information it can lead to a dismissal of the lawsuit or an agreement for a settlement at a much lower total.
Don't let debt collectors push you around. Beat them in court with SoloSuit.
The best affirmative defense
Affirmative defenses are those that will 100% get you out of being sued for your debt. They are undeniable in court. The statute of limitations is the best affirmative defense that exists. The statute of limitations governs how long creditors can bring a lawsuit to court. Although the rules vary by state and type of debt, the average length is between four to six years. The beginning of this time period starts on the last day you were active on the account.
Activity is defined as making a payment on the account or drawing funds. This might include the last time you used a credit card or made a payment on the balance.
Restarting the statute of limitations
It is essential not to make payments on past due accounts that have been sent to court. This is because you will restart the period of the statute of limitations if you make any type of payment or activity. Some agencies work to revive what is called “zombie debts” to extend the timeline and file a suit against you.
Whatever decisions you make about defending yourself against a bill collector, it is essential you know your rights. Never admit responsibility for the debt, and be sure to look into the statute of limitations. This is the best way to learn how to beat a bill collector in court.
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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