Being sued can be difficult, and many people are unsure of where to begin. The most crucial step is to react. Without regard to whether you believe you owe the obligation or not, it could entail drafting a response and appearing in court by any deadline mentioned in the court papers.
You can make sure the debt collector has to prove you owe the obligation, that the debt’s amount is true, and that the debt collector has the legal authority to sue you to collect on it by replying to the lawsuit, either on your own or through an attorney. Some debt collectors would prefer to settle than go through drawn-out litigation, so you could even be able to settle the debt by answering or appearing in court.
Do not neglect the case in any way. even if you disagree with the debt you believe you owe. You’ll most likely be in a better position, pay less in costs, and have more influence over how you repay the debt if you contest a debt collector’s lawsuit in court.
The major actions to take if you are being sued by a debt collector are as follows:
You may need to respond to the lawsuit orally, in writing, in person, or both. You’ll find instructions in the documents that state the debt collector is suing you.
Examine your debt records and any information you may have had from the collector, including the confirmation data that they are required to send you.
Look for any weaknesses in the case. It is the collector’s duty to support the lawsuit’s assertions. They must demonstrate that you are the one who owes the obligation, that the debt amount is correct—including any interest or fees—and that you owe the debt exclusively to them. Check to see whether the collector’s deadline to file a lawsuit hasn’t already passed if the debt is old.
What Takes Place If I Don’t React?
Ignoring the court papers and notices will not end the lawsuit. And contrary to what you may have seen on television, you cannot stop the lawsuit from being delivered or “served” on you. The case may even proceed without you. Because you failed to appear, the debt collector may have won by “default” and the court may decide the case without hearing your side of the story.
The debt collector may be able to garnish your earnings or bank account, take money out of them, or place a lien on the property, such as your home if the court rules against you and compels you to pay the bill. Amounts for interest, collection charges, and even legal fees may be requested by the debt collector in court. Your credit report will almost certainly reflect a judgment, which could make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future. That could influence your ability to obtain a job, insurance, a phone, or a home.
Where can I find support?
It can be difficult to attend court on your own. However, there are methods to obtain legal counsel, such as:
If you have a low income, you can get free or discounted legal assistance. Use the Legal Service Corporation’s search engine to identify a local legal assistance agency. Or use the pro bono directory of the American Bar Association to look for a pro bono (free legal assistance) program.
You might be able to get free online responses to inquiries about debt collection from a lawyer in your state at org.
if you can afford it, hire legal counsel. The American Bar Association Directory can be used to locate attorneys in your state. Make careful inquiries about their familiarity with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collection defense, and consumer law.
Where Can I File a Law Violation Report Against a Debt Collector?
When contacting you about a debt, debt collectors are required to abide by the law. Any issues you encounter with a debt collector should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which can be found at cfpb.gov, and the FTC.
In contrast to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, many states have their own debt collection laws. Your state’s attorney general’s office can assist you in understanding your legal rights.
You have one year from the date of the violation to file a lawsuit against the debt collector in a state or federal court. You can file a lawsuit for losses that occurred as a result of the debt collector’s legal infractions, including lost earnings, medical expenditures, and compensation for the impact the debt collector’s conduct had on your employment or your health.
However, even if a court decides a debt collector broke the law while attempting to collect a valid debt, you can still be responsible for paying the debt.