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How to Settle a Debt in Washington

Sarah Edwards | March 17, 2023

Settling your debt in Washington can be easy with the help of SoloSettle.

Summary: If you’ve been sued for debt in Washington, it’s not too late to settle it. Just respond to the lawsuit before Washington’s deadline, send a settlement offer to start the negotiation process, and get the agreement in writing. SoloSettle can help you with each of these steps and more.

Debt is part of life. You may have a credit card or two, an auto loan, and a mortgage. While you try to keep up with the payments, the unexpected can happen and make you fall behind.

When you stop making monthly payments, your creditors will start collection activities. You’ll likely receive phone calls, emails, and letters asking you to resume paying your bills.

If you don’t catch up, your creditors may sell your account to a debt collector. In some cases, they’ll start a debt lawsuit against you and try to obtain a judgment.

A judgment grants your creditor the right to take additional adverse actions against you. They may garnish your wages or attempt to freeze your bank account. If your debt has collateral attached, like a home or automobile, they can seize it.

If you have unsecured debts, it is possible to settle them and avoid a judgment. You can pay less than you owe and move forward from a challenging situation.

Keep reading to learn about three steps you can take to settle your debt in Washington.

There are 3 essential steps to debt settlement

If you’ve been sued for debt in Washington, it’s not too late to settle it. In fact, you can reach out to your creditor or debt collector at any stage of the debt lawsuit process to discuss a settlement. Just follow these three steps to settle your debt in Washington:

  1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer.
  2. Make an offer to start negotiations.
  3. Get the settlement agreement in writing.

Below, we’ll break down each of these steps in detail. Don’t like reading? Check out this video instead.

1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer

Your creditor will begin the legal process by filing a Complaint with the court. A Complaint lists your creditor's reasons for taking legal action against you. They’ll indicate you haven’t made payments toward your debt. Your creditor will also state the amount you owe.

Many consumers make the mistake of ignoring the debt lawsuit in the hopes of it going away. If you fail to respond to the Complaint before the deadline, you give up the right to defend yourself in court, and the court will likely order a default judgment against you. This gives creditors and debt collectors the right to garnish your wages, seize your property, and freeze your bank account.

In Washington, you have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit and avoid a default judgment.

You’ll need to respond to the Complaint with a legal document known as an Answer. In your Answer, you’ll explain why you believe the lawsuit is inappropriate. A few defenses you can use in your Answer include that the debt is not sufficiently validated or that the statute of limitations has passed.

If neither of those aligns with the facts of your case, look for another defense that does.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

2. Make an offer to start negotiations

Your next step is identifying how much you can afford to pay in a debt settlement. Take note of your savings and any upcoming income. If you don’t have much money, ask for help from family or friends, or consider selling a few items you don’t need.

We recommend starting with an offer of at least 60% of your debt’s value. That’s enough to show the creditor you’re ready to bargain with them. They’ll consider your offer and compare it to the expense of further collection activities, which may have uncertain returns.

If you can’t afford to pay that much, offer what you can. You should explain any extenuating financial circumstances. Your creditor might be able to come up with an alternative arrangement that suits your situation.

Don’t accept any offer that you can’t afford. If you don’t pay the settlement, your creditor will continue the legal process against you.

SoloSettle takes care of the settlement negotiation process.

3. Get the settlement agreement in writing

Before transferring any money to your creditor, get a written agreement. A written contract ensures that everyone understands the terms of the deal.

Your settlement agreement should indicate the amount you’ll pay to settle the debt and when it’s due. It should also describe how you’ll transfer your payment and a statement waiving your creditor’s rights to the remaining balance of the obligation, stipulating they’ll stop further legal action against you.

We recommend including a space for a notary to witness the signing of the agreement. Notarizing the contract makes it official and gives the deal additional legal credibility.

Here’s an example of a debt settlement agreement example to give you an idea of what yours should include.

Now that you know the three steps of debt settlement, it’s time to see an example of how to settle a debt in Washington in action.

Example: George is behind on his credit card payments to ABC Financial. ABC Financial takes legal action against him, and George receives a Summons and Complaint from the company. ABC Financial is suing George for the outstanding balance of his loan, which is $4,000. George uses SoloSuit to file an Answer with his local Washington court and sends a copy to his creditor. He uses the defense of insufficient debt validation. After determining he can afford $2,400 in a settlement, he uses SoloSettle to contact ABC Financial and make an offer. ABC Financial decides to accept George’s offer. Once both sides have signed a written agreement, he sends his settlement money. ABC Financial drops the claim against him and reports the account settled to the credit bureaus.

What are Washington’s debt collection and debt settlement laws?

Washington state has debt collection and debt settlement laws that all debt settlement companies must follow. According to RCW 18.28.120, debt settlement companies are prohibited from:

  • Accepting any contract that has blank spaces after being signed by the debtor.
  • Lending money or credit.
  • Charging fees in the form of a promissory note or mortgage.
  • Making any false or misleading statements about its services.
  • Offering any form of compensation to any person for referring prospective customers to the debt adjuster.

Washington also abides by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which limits the actions debt collectors can take against consumers. Prohibited acts include:

  • Using obscene or threatening language to collect a debt.
  • Telling the consumer they’ll go to jail if they don’t repay a debt.
  • Pretending to be someone they’re not when attempting to collect an obligation.
  • Contacting people the consumer knows and telling them they owe a debt.

The state legislature has passed additional protections for residents of Washington. Creditors cannot:

  • Publish lists of consumers who owe debts.
  • Tell the debtor they’ll destroy their credit if they don’t repay the debt.
  • Call a consumer before 7:30 a.m. or after 9 p.m. concerning an obligation.
  • Require debtors to pay for collect calls or telegram fees.
  • Contact consumers more than three times a week concerning a debt.

Finally, under WA Rev Code § 4.16.040 (2020), written contracts and debts on account have a statute of limitations of six years. WA Rev Code § 4.16.080 (2021) establishes a three-year statute of limitations on oral debts.

What’s the best debt settlement company?

Various debt settlement companies can assist you with the debt settlement process. Here are a few of our recommendations.


SoloSettle is the best solution for anyone facing a current debt lawsuit. Before your court date, SoloSettle handles the debt settlement negotiation process for you.

We’ll negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Once you agree to it, we’ll make sure you have a written contract. Then, we’ll deal with the payment process, so you won’t need to worry about handing over your banking information to a debt collector.

SoloSettle is different from other debt settlement companies for several reasons:

  • SoloSettle can help you settle a debt of any size, whereas many debt settlement companies require you to have a debt over $15k.
  • SoloSettle actively attempts to settle your debt, whereas many debt settlement companies take a more passive role, waiting for settlement offers to come to them.
  • SoloSettle has legal defense built in with SoloSuit. While settling, you can use SoloSuit to block lawsuits if you need. Most debt settlement companies don’t provide legal defense; if you’re sued for a debt you are on your own.
  • SoloSettle is offered by SoloSuit, a trusted brand and a legitimate company. Many traditional debt settlement companies are actual scams.

Settle with SoloSettle

Make an Offer

Freedom Debt Relief

Since 2002, Freedom Debt Relief has helped thousands of people resolve over $10 billion in debt. Qualified consumers will make monthly payments toward resolving their outstanding obligations. Most programs last between two and four years, and fees range from 15% to 25% of the consumer’s total debt.

Accredited Debt Relief

Accredited Debt Relief offers debt settlement services to consumers with at least $10,000 in unsecured debt. Participants receive a customized plan requiring them to make monthly payments toward their outstanding debts. They typically complete the program in one to four years.

How should I contact my creditor?

If you’re ready to start the debt settlement process with your creditor, you can contact them via phone, email, or letter.

We recommend starting the conversation with an email. Email is quick and provides a written record of the conversation you can refer to. Usually, you’ll hear back from your creditor within a business day.

However, some consumers prefer to speak with their creditors directly. A phone conversation is helpful if you want to resolve your debt expeditiously or convey essential facts about your financial situation that may be important to the negotiation process.

If you decide to call your creditor, you should record the conversation. Under WA Rev Code § 9.73.030, both parties must consent to a recording. Thus, you must ask your creditor for permission before recording the call.

FAQs about settling debts in Washington

You likely have lots of questions about debt settlement in Washington. Here are answers to a few of the most common.

Q. What is a reasonable offer to settle a debt?

We recommend an offer of at least 60% of the total value of your debt to settle an obligation. However, if that amount is outside your reach, offer what you can and explain your financial circumstances to the debt collector. They may be able to set up alternative arrangements for your case or accept less in a settlement.

Q. How long will it be before a debt becomes uncollectible in Washington state?

Most debts fall under the six-year statute of limitations in Washington, except oral obligations, which have a limitation of three years. After the statute of limitations passes, your creditor can no longer take legal action against you. However, they can continue to send you letters and call you.

Q. Can I do my own debt settlement?

Yes, it’s possible to handle debt settlement yourself. However, you should research the process and understand how it works before beginning negotiations. Make sure to get your agreements in writing before transferring any money to your creditors.

How to get debt relief in Washington

SoloSuit has other articles concerning debt relief and debt collections in Washington. Here are a few you should review:

If you’re facing a debt lawsuit, try debt settlement

While debt settlement won’t work in every case, many creditors will be willing to work with you if you can make a lump-sum payment. Before negotiating with your creditors, determine what you can afford. Once you have a deal, get it in writing before transferring your settlement to the collectors.

SoloSuit makes it easy to tackle your debt.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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