When you are in financial difficulty, it may seem impossible to keep making payment. What happens, however, when creditors run out of patience and file suit? Here’s what to do if a debt collector sues you.
Debt Collection Lawsuits
Debt collection lawsuits are the most effective way creditors can recover the money they are owed. When debtors fail to make payments as agreed, the creditor may have no other recourse than to file a lawsuit. When a debt collection lawsuit is filed, a debtor has the right to challenge the validity of the debt, as outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The FDCPA provides protections for debtors against debt collectors, including the right to seek verification of any debts that a debtor may dispute. Not only does the FDCPA protect debtors from debt collectors, but it also protects unscrupulous lawyers in debt collection lawsuits. Since lawyers are acting on behalf of a debt collector, they are also considered to be a debt collector by the FDCPA, meaning they must remain fully compliant with all aspects of the act. Failure to adhere to the law may result in a court ruling barring the debt collectors from contacting you, a judgment to you for any damages suffered, as well as statutory damage of up to $1,000, and the payment of your attorney fees and court costs.
What to Do If a Debt Collector Sues You
Respond in Writing Promptly
One of the first things you must do if you are facing a lawsuit by a debt collector or creditor is to respond to the lawsuit. This response can be made either by yourself or through an attorney, although it is always best practice to work with an experienced debt and bankruptcy lawyer. You must respond before the deadline in writing to the debt collector’s suit the court specifies.
Many people wrongly believe that if they refuse to accept delivery of a lawsuit when “served” that the process cannot continue. This assumption is incorrect, as merely ignoring the suit will likely result in the court considering the suit served, and a judgment made against you not only for the debt amount but also any additional court and lawyer fees for the plaintiff.
If a debt collector receives a judgment against you after you refuse to respond to a lawsuit, they may be able to garnish your wages, place a lien on your property, or seize funds from both your checking or savings accounts.
Seek a Compromise
When a debt collector or a creditor files a lawsuit for outstanding debt, what they are seeking is a legal remedy for you not repaying what you owe. What this means is that they are looking for a way to collect as much as possible from you. One way to respond to a debt collection lawsuit is to seek a compromise and begin negotiating a payment plan.
When you negotiate with a debt collector, it is essential that you do your homework first and devise a realistic payment plan. By fully understanding your debt burden, what you can afford to pay, and what a creditor will accept, you can create a program that is acceptable to all parties.
Once you formulate a payment plan, present it to your creditors. With the help of a dedicated bankruptcy attorney, you can explain in detail your financial situation, what you can afford to pay, and show evidence to prove your arguments. Then, you can begin negotiating a fair deal which satisfies the debt collectors want of payment, while saving both parties the cost and stress of a court battle.
Always Speak with an Experienced Attorney
Before you undertake any negotiations with a creditor or respond to a lawsuit, make sure you always discuss your case with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. If you are facing a suit for a creditor or debt-collector, don’t just talk to an attorney. Make sure you speak with the best. Speak to Patrick Cordero.
At the Law Offices of Patrick L. Cordero, we’re proud to be the largest bankruptcy law firm in the entire state of Florida. We offer personalized attention to each of our clients because we know each situation is unique. If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, or if your co-signer already has, having a leading attorney by your side can help you the protection you need.
Trust the Lawyer of the Decade, the Minority Lawyer of the Year, and the Largest Bankruptcy Firm in Florida, and we’ll work with you to help you get the best financial outcome. Trust in the expertise of The Law Offices of Patrick L. Cordero. Call us today at (305) 445-485 for a free consultation.