What Is an Assignment of Debt?

George Simons

October 14, 2021

Debt collectors ^

Summary: Have a debt collection agency coming after you for a past due account? Not convinced that they have the right to sue you? Learn about the assignment of debt and how you can beat a debt collector in court.

Assignment of debt means that the debt has been transferred, including all obligations and rights, from the creditor to another party. The debt assignment means there has been a legal transfer to another party, who now owns the debt. Usually, the debt assignment involves a debt collector who takes the responsibility to collect your debt.

How does a debt assignment work?

When the creditor lends you money, it does so thinking that what it lends you as well as interest will be paid back according to the legal agreement. The lender will wait to get the money back according to the contract.

When the debt is assigned to another party, you must be notified when it happens so you know who owns the debt and where to send your payments. If you send payments to the previous creditor, the payments probably will be rejected and you could default.

When the debtor gets this notice, it's wise for them to check that the creditor has the right balance and the payment that you should pay each month. Sometimes, you may be able to offer changes to the terms of the loan. If you decide to try this, the creditor must respond.

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Why creditors assign debts

Note that debt assignments and debt collectors must adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is a law overseen by the FTC that restricts when the debtor can contact you and how. For example, they only can call you between 8 am and 9 pm and they cannot call you at work if you tell them not to do so.

If the FDCPA is broken by the debt collector, you can file a countersuit and may get them to pay damages and your attorney fees.

There are many reasons why the creditor may assign a debt. The most common reason is to boost their liquidity and reduce risk. The creditor could need capital, so they'll sell off some of their debts to debt collection companies.

Also, the creditor may have many higher-risk loans and they could be worried they could have a lot of defaults. In these situations, the creditor may be ok with selling debts for pennies on the dollar if it enhances their financial outlook and reassures investors.

Or, the creditor may think the debt is too old to worry about and may not assign it at all.

Different perspectives on debt assignment

Debt assignment is often criticized, especially in the past 30 years. Debt buyers often engage in shady practices. For example, some debt collectors may call consumers in the middle of the night and harass them to pay debts. Or, they may call friends and family looking for you. Some debt collectors even use foul language with consumers and threaten them.

Sometimes the debt is sold several times, so the consumer is chased for a debt she doesn't owe. Or, the debt amount could be different than what the debt collector claims.

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What to do if a debt collector comes after you

If you owe a debt and the debt has been assigned to a debt collector, you may be getting a lot of phone calls at all hours to get you to pay what you allegedly owe. This can continue for months or even years.

Sometimes, you can just ignore the phone calls and nothing happens. However, if enough money is involved, the debt collector could file a lawsuit against you. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to ignore the lawsuit.

What you should do is use the debt assignment game against them. What happens is this: The debt was probably sold a few times. You want to make the debt collector prove that the debt is yours and that you owe what they say you owe.

When the debt has been sold several times, it can be difficult for them to track down all that paperwork. You need to respond to the lawsuit by filing an answer with your clerk of court and then mail that answer to the debt collector by certified mail.

If you are being pursued for a debt that has been purchased by a third party debt buyer, there is a good chance you can get the issue resolved fairly easily. For example, in many instances, you may be able to negotiate a fairly low settlement on the debt, if you prefer to do so. This is because many companies who specialize in debt assignments actually purchased the debt for pennies on the dollar and are not actually looking to collect on the full amount owed.

Even if you cannot negotiate a settlement, make sure to log all of your interaction with the debt buyer since the collection agents they employ are notorious for routinely violating provisions contained within the FDCPA, which means you may have grounds to file a counterclaim and demand compensatory damages.

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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.

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