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How to Settle a Debt in Missouri

Sarah Edwards | December 07, 2022

When you reach a debt settlement agreement ^^

Summary: Facing a debt lawsuit in Missouri is scary. However, you can reach out to settle a debt at any stage of the debt lawsuit process in Missouri. SoloSettle helps you negotiate a settlement and pay off debt collectors on your own.

You’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage, car payment, and grocery bills without falling behind on credit card or personal loan payments. The stress might seem never-ending. If you’ve gotten to the point where you can no longer make monthly repayments, you need to know your options.

When you have unmanageable debt, you can set up new payment arrangements, attempt to settle the debt, or consider bankruptcy. Settling a debt allows you to pay less for the outstanding obligation while avoiding the nuclear option of bankruptcy. Once you settle the debt, you won’t need to worry about future collection activities from your creditor.

Settling debt is the best option if you’re facing a lawsuit from a creditor. You don’t want a Missouri judge to grant your creditor a judgment against you. A judgment allows your creditor to garnish your wages and freeze your bank account, making your life much more difficult.

There are 3 steps to settling a debt

If you’d like to settle your debt before your court date, you have three steps to follow:

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

Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these steps. You can also check out this video to learn more:

1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer

A debt lawsuit begins when a creditor or debt collector files a Complaint against you. In this Complaint, they’ll list information about the account they’re suing you for, including the amount due plus any interest and fees. You’ll receive a copy of the Complaint and a Summons to appear in your local court.

Even though you plan to settle the debt before your court date, you should respond to the Complaint with an Answer. An Answer allows you to defend yourself and prevents the court from granting a default judgment against you.

In Missouri, you have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit. If you fail to respond, you may lose automatically when the court orders a default judgment against you. With a default judgment granted, creditors and debt collectors can garnish your wages and seize your property.

Avoid a default judgment by responding to your debt lawsuit immediately.

In your Answer, you can provide reasons why you haven’t paid the debt or don’t believe you owe the debt. For instance, if you don’t think the debt collector chasing you for the debt has the right to collect from you, you can say so. If the debt has passed Missouri’s statute of limitations, you can indicate that in your Answer.

Learn more about how to respond to a debt lawsuit in Missouri here.

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2. Make an offer to start negotiations

You’ll need to determine how much you can afford to pay your creditor in a settlement. We recommend that you start with at least 60% of the total value of your debt. For instance, if you owe $2,000, you would offer $1,200 in a settlement.

If you can’t afford to pay 60% of the value of the debt, start the negotiations with what you have available. Your chances of a successful settlement may decline when you offer less. However, you can attempt to explain your situation to the creditor or debt collector. They may offer you some leeway or extend the repayment over several months.

Be prepared to go through several rounds of negotiation. Remember that negotiation is part of the process, and work with the creditor or debt collector until you reach an agreement you can afford.

SoloSettle takes care of the settlement negotiations process for you.

3. Get the settlement agreement in writing

Once you’ve hammered out a deal with your debt collector, get it in writing. Some debt collection agencies and creditors will use nefarious techniques to pursue the remaining balance of an old debt, even if you’ve negotiated in good faith. They may claim you never had a deal and move forward with the court process.

A written agreement prevents debt collectors from changing the terms of the settlement. You’ll have a contract you can refer to if the debt collector tries to pursue further action against you. A debt settlement agreement should look something like this:

Debt Settlement Agreement

Here’s a debt settlement agreement example to give you an idea of what it should include. Usually, the creditor or debt collector will draft the agreement for you. Just be sure to review it carefully before signing.

You’ll notice that the example includes notarized signatures. Requiring your debt collector or creditor to notarize the agreement ensures there is a witness to the contract. A witness adds further credibility to your case if the debt collector tries to renege on the deal.

SoloSettle manages the debt settlement agreement for you.

Now, let’s look at an example of someone who successfully settled their debt with these three steps:

Example: When Portfolio Recovery Associates sued Katie for a $5,000 debt in Missouri, she used SoloSuit to respond to the lawsuit before the state’s deadline of 30 days. In her Answer, she denied most of the claims and asserted her affirmative defenses. This gave Katie time to calculate how much she could afford to pay to settle the debt. Katie determined she could afford to send a lump-sum payment of $4,000 which is 80% of the original amount. Next, she used SoloSettle to send her initial offer of 50% of the debt at $1,500. After a few rounds of negotiations, Katie and Portfolio Recovery reached a debt settlement of $3,500 or just 70% of the debt.

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

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 Missouri, 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.

Missouri relies entirely on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for its debt collection rules. There are no other state laws that regulate debt collection. Under the FDCPA, it is illegal for debt collectors to:

  • Repeatedly call you throughout the week about a debt.
  • Lie about how much you owe.
  • Use threatening or obscene language to try to collect a debt from you.
  • Threaten to seize your property unless they have a right to do so.
  • Tell you they’ll put you in jail for not paying the debt.
  • Call at odd times, like after 9 p.m.
  • Publish the fact that you owe a debt.

If a debt collector breaks the laws outlined by the FDCPA, you can file a complaint against them with the FTC. The collector may face fines and penalties for their actions.

Like all other states, Missouri has a statute of limitations that limits the time a collector has to pursue a lawsuit against you. This time limit varies, depending on the type of debt:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Missouri

Debt Type Deadline
Written — Money / Property (MO Rev Stat § 516.120) 5 years
Oral Contracts (MO Rev Stat § 516.120) 5 years
Written Contracts (MO Rev Stat § 516.110) 10 years
Collection of Debt on Account (MO Rev Stat § 516.110) 10 years
Judgments (MO Rev Stat § 516.350) 10 years

What are the best debt settlement companies out there?

If you’re ready to try debt settlement, you can contact one of these companies for help.


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.

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.”

National Debt Relief

National Debt Relief is one of the most well-known debt settlement companies. Since 2009, National Debt Relief has settled over $1 billion in unsecured debts for its clients.

You can settle multiple debts with the company through its debt settlement programs, which typically last between two and four years. Costs for the settlement service range from 15% to 25% of your total debt.

Freedom Debt Relief

Freedom Debt Relief is another large and well-known debt settlement company. Since 2002, the company has helped over 650,000 people eliminate their obligations through debt settlement. Programs last two to four years, and the company charges 15% to 25% of the client’s debt for its services.

What’s the best way to send an offer to a collector?

If you’d like to try handling the debt settlement process on your own, you can begin by calling, emailing, or sending a letter to your debt collector. We advise email for debt settlement — it’s fast, and it will give you a written record of your settlement attempts.

Those who prefer to call their debt collector should consider recording the call. Under Missouri law MO Rev Stat § 542.402 (2021), you can record any call with the consent of one party. You will be the person giving consent. Recording the phone call ensures you have a record of the conversation between you and the debt collector.

Later, if the debt collector decides to renege on their promise to settle the debt, you’ll have the recording to refer to.

FAQs on Missouri debt settlement

We hear lots of questions about settling a debt in Missouri. Here are a few of the most common.

Q. What percent should I offer to settle a debt?

The more you offer, the better your chances that a creditor will agree to settle a debt. However, many people can’t afford to pay 80% or 90% of their debt. We advise offering what you can manage to pay. Your creditor will probably provide a counteroffer, so expect to go through several rounds of negotiation before reaching an agreement.

Q. Is it better to settle a debt or go to court?

It’s better to settle a debt — unless you have a strong argument that the obligation isn’t valid. For instance, you don’t want to repay a debt that isn’t yours. If someone stole your personal information and signed up for a credit card in your name, you are the victim of identity theft. The creditor should be chasing the person who stole your details.

Q. Can I do debt settlement on my own?

Yes, it is possible to handle debt settlement independently. It will take some effort and work, but you can do it and save money on the fees you’d pay to a debt settlement company. The main advantage of hiring a service is that it will take care of time-consuming and complicated administrative tasks.

Learn more about debt relief in Missouri

If you want more information about debt settlement in Missouri, check out our other guides:

Debt settlement in Missouri is possible

Millions of people in the U.S. are dealing with debt; you’re not the only one. If you’re seeking relief from debt that you cannot pay back, consider debt settlement. With a little effort and help, you can prevent a judgment against you and avoid potential bankruptcy.

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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