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How to Settle a Debt in West Virginia

Sarah Edwards | March 17, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Edwards is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

When you reach a debt settlement agreement in West Virginia ^^

Summary: If you’re facing a debt lawsuit in West Virginia, you only have 20 days to respond before you lose automatically. Luckily, you can settle the matter before your court date. Be sure to file an Answer to the case, send a settlement offer to start negotiations, and get the agreement in writing. SoloSettle can help with all these steps and more.

If you’re carrying debt, you know that you need to maintain your monthly payments. Keeping up with your obligations protects your relationships with your creditors and increases your credit score.

However, sometimes people get caught up in too much debt or experience a job loss or significant unexpected expense. In such cases, it’s hard to keep up with debt payments.

When you stop making payments, creditors will try to collect what you owe. They may call you, email you, or send you letters. If you don’t get back on track, they might charge off your account and sell it to a debt collector. Sometimes, they’ll take legal action against you.

A creditor who starts legal action against you is seeking a judgment. A judgment grants your creditor additional debt collection privileges, like freezing your bank account or garnishing your wages. You’ll want to avoid a judgment since it goes into your public record and can impact your ability to obtain loans in the future.

If you’ve been sued for a debt, you can reach out to creditors and debt collectors to negotiate a debt settlement before your court date. With SoloSettle, that process is made easy. Keep reading to learn more.

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There are 3 steps to the debt settlement process

It’s not too late to settle a debt if you’ve already been sued for it in West Virginia. Just follow these three steps:

  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 further. Don’t like reading? Watch this video to learn more instead:

1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer

Your creditors will start the debt lawsuit process against you by filing a Complaint. A Complaint indicates your creditor’s reasons for the lawsuit, such as nonpayment of a debt. It will also list the amount you owe, including any interest or fees.

Respond to the creditor’s Complaint with an Answer. An Answer is a legal document that lists why you haven’t paid the debt or why you believe the creditor’s case is invalid. A few of the most common defenses people use in their Answers include lack of validation of the debt or that the debt is past the statute of limitations.

Make the right defense the right way with SoloSuit.

In West Virginia, you have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit before a default judgment is ordered against you, meaning you lose automatically. With a default judgment, creditors and debt collectors can garnish your wages and seize your property. This is why it’s important to respond to the lawsuit as soon as possible.

Even if you plan to settle the claim before your court date, you should still file an Answer. An Answer allows you to defend yourself if your efforts at settlement fail. Your creditor won’t be able to ask for a default judgment in the claim; the judge will have to listen to your explanation first.

2. Make an offer to start negotiations

The next step is to begin the negotiation process. Determine how much you can afford. We recommend an offer of at least 60% of the total value of your debt. If you don’t have that much cash available, consider taking on a few odd jobs or ask for help from friends and family. You can use this simple equation to calculate how much you can offer to settle:

Amount available to settle = (monthly income – monthly costs) + savings

Next, you should research how much your creditor or debt collector will be willing to settle for. Debts can settle from 1% to over 100% of the total amount of the debt. According to America Fair Credit Council’s Regan Report, the average consumer can reach a debt settlement of 50% when working with a debt settlement company.

All of that said, a 50% settlement is not easy to get. We don’t see it much. An 80% settlement is easy in most cases, as most creditors and debt collectors are willing to drop to that amount. Usually, we see debts settle for somewhere within that range. Around 60% is pretty common.

You might go through several negotiation rounds before reaching a deal with your creditor. Be careful not to accept an agreement you’ll have difficulty complying with. If you do and can’t make your payments, your creditor will continue with the legal process against you.

SoloSettle's software takes care of the settlement negotiation process.

3. Get the settlement agreement in writing

Don’t transfer any money to your creditor until you have a written and signed agreement. A written contract spells out the terms of your deal so that there’s no room for misinterpretation.

The agreement should indicate the amount you’ll repay and when it’s due. It should also specify where you’ll send your payment.

The contract should include language stipulating that your payment ends the creditor’s rights to the remaining debt balance. They’ll release the lawsuit against you and report the account settled or paid in full to the credit reporting bureaus.

We recommend you notarize your agreement and ask your creditor to do so, too. A notarized agreement is a legal instrument that can protect you if your creditor tries to back out of the deal or doesn’t fulfill its terms.

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

Let SoloSettle manage your debt settlement agreement for you.

Now that you understand the debt settlement process, let’s walk through an example of how to settle debt in West Virginia.

Example: John is behind on his credit card payments with Chase Bank. He hasn’t made a payment in six months, so Chase files a debt lawsuit against him for the $2,000 balance due on his account. John uses SoloSuit to file an Answer with his local court and sends a copy to Chase, buying himself time to make a debt settlement plan. Next, John assesses his finances. He determines that he can afford to pay $1,200 in a settlement. He uses SoloSettle to contact Chase and start the negotiations. Chase considers his offer and counters it with $1,500. John asks family members for a $300 loan, and they provide it to him. SoloSettle helps John manage the settlement agreement documentation, which both parties sign and notarize. After SoloSettle transfers John’s money, Chase drops the case and reports the account settled to the credit reporting bureaus.

What are West Virginia’s debt collection and debt settlement laws?

West Virginia adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prevents creditors from taking specific actions. Some prohibited acts include the following:

  • Calling a debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contacting a consumer more than seven times a week.
  • Calling a debtor repeatedly throughout the day.
  • Telling the debtor they’ll face jail time if they don’t pay their bill.
  • Threatening the consumer with legal action the creditor doesn’t have the right to take.
  • Using threatening or obscene language when attempting to collect a debt.

Statute of limitations laws in West Virginia cap how long a creditor has to take legal action against a consumer. Under WV Code § 55-2-6 (through 1st Spec. Sess. 2012), creditors have five years to start the legal process for oral contracts and 10 years for written agreements.

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission has recently amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule to expand debt settlement regulations to all debt relief organizations and companies. All 50 states, including West Virginia, are governed by this Rule as it relates to debt settlement practice.

Under the new Rule, any company that provides debt relief services, namely debt settlement companies, cannot:

  • Charge upfront fees. Debt settlement companies cannot collect any fees from a consumer before the debt has been effectively settled or otherwise resolved.
  • Fail to disclose certain information about its services before a consumer enrolls in the program. This includes how much the service costs, how long it takes to see results, how much money must be saved before a settlement offer is made, consequences that may occur if the consumer fails to make payments on time, customer’s rights, and other important terms.
  • Misrepresent their services. No false or unsubstantiated claims can be made regarding a debt settlement company’s services.

What’s the best debt settlement company?

Finding the best West Virginia debt settlement company is about identifying which company best meets your particular needs for debt settlement.

SoloSettle differs from many traditional debt settlement companies. It is unique because it’s a product of SoloSuit, a trusted brand with years of experience helping consumers manage debt. Sophisticated scams that prey on those overwhelmed with debt problems are a real concern. With SoloSuit’s SoloSettle tool, you know you are working with a valid company that has helped thousands of consumers.

Most debt settlement companies require a substantial minimum debt before taking you on as a client—$15k or more. SoloSettle works with debts of any size. Plus, SoloSettle uses an active approach to settle a debt, making it ideal to use if a lawsuit has been filed.

Still not convinced? Check out this review from a real SoloSettle customer:

“I'm very thankful for SoloSettle.. Having a third party negotiate the settlement was instrumental in resolving this case and saved me from two giant headaches: 1) I didn't have to deal with the plaintiff's lawyer and 2) I didn't have to go to court. I also love that the payment was processed through SoloSettle. I was nervous about sharing my personal financial data with the other side, but SoloSettle protected that for me. I hope I never get sued again, but if I do, I would use SoloSettle again in a heartbeat.

SoloSettle really saved me a ton of time and heartburn and kept me from having to be my own lawyer in court.”

Other reputable debt settlement companies include:

  • New Era Debt Solutions—New Era has been in business for over 23 years, making them a trusted name in debt settlement. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Century Support Services—Century has over a decade of experience in helping consumers settle debts and maintains an A+ rating from the BBB. The business has consistently high customer satisfaction scores, but the fees can be steep. Make sure you understand the fee structure before making a final decision.
  • National Debt Relief—assists individuals with resolving multiple debts through debt settlement. To qualify for its programs, you must have at least $10,000 in unsecured debt, like credit card balances or medical bills. Programs last two to four years, and you’ll pay 15% to 25% of your debt in service fees.
  • Accredited Debt Relief—helps people resolve obligations through debt settlement. Clients enroll in a customized plan and make monthly payments, which the company uses to settle their debts. Programs last one to four years, depending on how much the consumer can afford to pay monthly. Fees range from 15% to 25% of the debt.

What’s the best way to contact the collector?

You can start the debt settlement process via email, letter, or phone. Before contacting your creditor, determine what factors are nonnegotiable and how much you can afford in a settlement.

We believe email provides the best results. It’s fast and user-friendly, and you’ll have time to consider each message you send to your creditor. Depending on your creditor's willingness to accept a settlement, you may resolve your debts by email within a day or two.

Some people prefer to speak with their creditors. A conversation with your creditor can deliver results quickly. You could have an agreement in under an hour. We recommend recording the call if you phone your creditor rather than write to them.

Under WV Code § 62-1D-3 (2020), you don’t need the other party's consent before recording a phone call.

FAQs about how to settle a debt in West Virginia

You probably have lots of questions concerning debt settlement in West Virginia. Here are a few of the inquiries we typically hear:

Q. What percentage of debt should I offer to settle?

You should offer what you can afford in a debt settlement. While we recommend starting with 60% of the value of your debt, some people can’t afford that much. Evaluate your financial circumstances and offer what you can. Explaining your situation to creditors can help; they might accept a lower offer or provide you with an alternative solution.

Q. Can I do my own debt settlement?

It’s entirely possible to handle your own debt settlement. In fact, you might save some money in debt settlement fees! However, you should thoroughly understand the process before you start and make sure to get any agreement in writing.

Q. Is it better to settle a debt or pay it off?

In almost every situation, it’s better to pay off your debt completely. However, debt settlement is the way to go if a creditor is suing you or you’re stuck in a difficult financial situation. Debt settlement can help you avoid more severe repercussions, like a judgment or bankruptcy.

How to get debt relief in West Virginia

SoloSuit has additional guides concerning debt relief and the debt collection process in West Virginia. Check them out below:

You can settle your debt before your court date

Giving into a default judgment isn’t the best move. Instead of ignoring a debt lawsuit, take action to defend yourself. Negotiate a settlement with your creditor, get it in writing, and make your payment. While it may take a little time and elbow grease, it’s well worth doing.

SoloSuit has debt settlement solutions that can help you in the process.

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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