Summary: Are you being sued for a past due balance? Here's everything you need to know about what to do if a debt collector sues you.
If you are in debt and cannot pay it, then a debt collector may eventually sue you to recoup their debt. If this has happened to you, you must respond. If you do not then you may have your wages garnished or money taken directly from your bank account. Knowing your rights will ensure that this does not happen to you.
If you are being sued then it is not usually the best situation. You may have no idea where to begin. The first step is to respond. As long as you respond you will have more of a chance to save yourself.
Responding to a debt collection lawsuit means that regardless of if you believe you owe it or not, you will need to write a response. This should be done by the deadline in the court documents and sent in by certified mail.
Responding to the lawsuit shows the debt collector that you are present and ready to fight. Responding also means that the debt collector will be required to prove you owe the debt. If they cannot prove that you owe the debt, then they will not be able to sue you. In some situations, You may even be able to resolve the debt by going to court. Most debt collectors would rather settle out of court than go through expensive litigation.
Use SoloSuit to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in 15 minutes.
Do not ignore a debt collection lawsuit
Even if you think you do not owe the debt, you should respond to the debt collection lawsuit. If you do not respond you lose all of the possibilities of challenging the debt. Responding puts you in a better situation. It will cost less in fees and give you more control over the situation.
Ignoring a debt collection lawsuit will only make matters worse. If you avoid being served with the papers, then you may get in more legal trouble or be charged a fee. This is called “refusing to accept delivery or service of process”. Additionally, if you do not respond to the lawsuit, it may simply go on without you and you will automatically lose. This will result in a default judgment being put against you.
The result of losing the lawsuit would be wage garnishment, liens on your property, or bank account garnishment. None of these are good options. The debt collector may also look for the court to award them additional money for collection costs, as well as interest, and attorney's fees.
Judgments are apparent on your credit report and will make it a lot harder to exist in society. For example, you may have trouble getting a job, insurance, even a phone, or a living situation.
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Steps to take if you are sued by a debt collector
- Answer the lawsuit: As mentioned, you must answer the lawsuit. This is done in writing, and by a court appearance. You will be given information from the court to know exactly where and when to appear.
- Gather information: You should look for anything about the debt that you have. Any information you may have gotten from the collector at any point will prove helpful. This should also include the validation letter you should have received. This is legally required by law.
- Look for problems with the lawsuit: Because it is the debt collector's responsibility to prove the lawsuit is valid, look for missing evidence. They are required to prove that you owe the debt, that it is accurate, and that it is not past the statute of limitations.
How to get help with a debt collection lawsuit
If you are struggling with a debt collection case then there are ways you can get help without hiring a lawyer. For example, you can often get free or reduced-fee legal help. This is specifically for low-income individuals. You can also look into pro bono programs.
Another option is to look through the Solo Suit website. We have plenty of answers that can walk you through how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit, and how to avoid wage garnishment.
Don't let debt collectors intimidate you. Respond with SoloSuit.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA is a group of laws that requires debt collectors to abstain from harassment and unfair debt collection practices. If a debt collector breaks any of these laws, you can sue them.
Many states do have specific debt collection laws, but they are all governed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you believe that a debt collector is violating your consumer rights you can contact the FTC at ftc.gov, your state attorney general's office, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Generally, the FDCPA bans third-party debt collectors from:
- Continued attempts to collect debt not owed: This involves calling you about a debt that you have reportedly explained you do not owe. It can also be in regards to attempting to collect on a debt they have no proof of.
- Illegal or unethical communication tactics: This may involve lying, being rude, extreme harassment, or other unethical practices.
- Taking or threatening illegal action: Debt collectors may not threaten to send you to jail or take your money if they do not have the legal right.
- False statements or false representation: Any type of lying is illegal when it comes to debt collection.
- Improper contact or sharing of info: Debt collectors may not tell anyone other than your spouse regarding your debt. Should this occur to anyone, such as your employer, friend, children, or parents, it is a direct violation of your rights.
- Calling at odd hours: Calling before the hour of 8 am and after 9 pm is considered harassment under the FDCPA.
If a debt collector breaks the law, then you can sue them within one year. This can be done in both state and federal courts. If you wish you can sue for damages that happened due to their breaking of the law. This might include lost wages, medical bills, or general compensation for the effect the debt collector had on you.
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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