Getting served with a debt collection lawsuit is one of the more upsetting things that can happen to you. When a process server hands a summons and complaint to you (or to someone you live with who can accept service), it means a debt collector is dragging you into the legal system.
And while getting served with a debt collection lawsuit is not fun, it is not the end of the world. In fact, that summons and complaint—legal process—provides rights to both parties to the case. Which means as a defendant in a debt collection lawsuit, you now have access to tools to defend yourself.
Let’s take a look at the first few parts of a lawsuit to try to dispel the fear and misunderstanding.
Jim Moriarty is a graduate of the same “boot camp” program for FDCPA lawyers that I attended. In fact, he and I attended the same session! Jim has been practicing law for close to 30 years, and he is “committed to and passionate about providing personal, quality legal representation to his clients.”
To contact Jim, visit his Iowa consumer attorney profile.
Malcolm Ruthven is a bankruptcy attorney in the San Fransisco Bay Area, and now a member of the Caveat Emptor bankruptcy attorney directory. Malcolm is a solo practitioner, and deals with all his clients directly.
He is also passionate about what he does:
I like seeing the relief in the eyes and manner of my clients after they’ve taken the difficult steps they need to take toward a financial Fresh Start. It’s a privilege to be an important part of that process.
To contact Malcolm, visit his California bankruptcy attorney profile.
All of the consumer and bankruptcy lawyers in our directory are members of either the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). Additionally, we do a basic check to ensure no lawyers in the directory have been subject to public discipline.
When you contact a consumer or bankruptcy attorney listed on Caveat Emptor, you can expect:
If you are a consumer or bankruptcy attorney interested in joining our database, here are the details.
Mark Anderson is a consumer rights lawyer and blogger in California, and now a member of the Caveat Emptor lawyer directory. Mark has handled thousands of lemon law cases, as well as cases involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and class actions.
To contact Mark, visit his California consumer lawyer profile.
Terry Duncan is a bankruptcy lawyer in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, who handles bankruptcies under Chapters 7 and 13 with his son, Damon Duncan, and his daughter-in-law, Melissa Duncan. Yep, it’s a family firm, and here they are introducing themselves:
To contact Terry, visit his North Carolina bankruptcy attorney profile.
Brad Perri, a former contributor to Caveat Emptor, has just joined our bankruptcy lawyer directory for Minnesota. Brad’s posts on bankruptcy reflect his approach to representing bankruptcy clients: he is compassionate, he gives clients his personal attention, and he is a zealous bankruptcy advocate.
To contact Brad, visit his Minnesota bankruptcy attorney profile.
95% of those lawsuits probably go unanswered, so the debt collectors end up with a judgment for the debt plus interest (and possibly other—unlawful—charges) plus attorney fees and costs. Then, they find the debtors’ bank accounts and employers and start collecting by garnishing wages, seizing funds from bank accounts, and worse.
If you are a tenant, the system works roughly the same, although landlords do not usually have quite so many people to sue.
So what do you do if you find out someone is suing you?
When faced with large amounts of debt, many consumers first think about filing bankruptcy. But while bankruptcy may be the best option for some, it is not the only option.
Consumers with only one or two accounts in default should consider dealing with those accounts, especially if they have been sold. It may be possible to settle or eliminate the debt and keep it off credit reports.
Bankruptcy, on the other hand, is the “nuclear option” best used to eliminate insurmountable mountains of debt. It gives consumers a clean slate, although it damages credit, which can make getting loans more expensive.
If you are considering bankruptcy, first talk to a consumer lawyer with experience handling debt collection lawsuits. They can help you decide whether it makes sense to fight or file bankruptcy.