Legal battles are scary enough as it is, but being sued by a powerful credit card company for old debt can be daunting. If you were unable to pay your credit card bills due to financial hardship, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to respond to such a lawsuit.
Nevertheless, ignoring a lawsuit from a credit card company will only create bigger problems later, so it’s best to deal with the problem head-on within the deadline. Here’s what you need to know about credit card debt collection lawsuits.
Can a credit card company sue you?
In short, yes they can technically sue you.
After 180 days of missed credit card payments, your credit card company might do three things:
- They can charge off the debt without ever filing a lawsuit, most likely because the debt amount is under $8,000 and not worth incurring extra legal fees.
- They can sell the debt to a third party collection agency, who may threaten to file a lawsuit without actually filing one.
- They can file a lawsuit in an attempt to get you to pay a one-time settlement, or make a payment plan to pay off the debts.
Seventy million Americans have delinquent credit card debt with third-party collection agencies, and nearly 15% of those collection efforts turn into lawsuits, according to research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Here’s what you should do if a credit card company sues you.
Step 1. Respond to the summons before the deadline
If a credit card company sues you, you will be served a summons, either in person or by mail, depending on the laws in your state.
A summons contains information about who is suing you, how much you owe, your court date, and the deadline to respond. Depending on the state that you live in, the deadline can be 21-30 days from when you were served the summons.
Attorney James Smith, partner at Fair Credit Attorneys which specializes in credit repair and consumer debt, says that failure to respond to the summons will allow the credit card company to win by default.
If a judge rules against you by default in court, the credit card company can levy your bank accounts to collect payment, which means they can legally take money in your savings or checking account to cover the amount you owe. Your wages and tax refunds can also be garnished to collect the debt, which means up to 25% of your paycheck automatically goes to a debt collector before you can even touch it.
Step 2. Call the collections law firm and make a payment plan
Settling the lawsuit out out of court by making a payment plan may be the best way to end the lawsuit. Your credit card company will most likely be represented by a collections law firm who is handling the lawsuit.
It’s best to call the collections firm directly to make a payment plan, but remember that these phone calls are recorded and that anything you say can be used against you in your lawsuit.
Smith says that each situation is different, but generally, you should avoid taking responsibility for the debt unless you review the details of the debt itself and confirm that those details are accurate. Make sure that you are still responding to the summons within the deadline alongside contacting the collections law firm.
Step 3. Get organized
Gather old credit card contracts, statements, and documents and organize them chronologically. You might need to go through these documents with a fine-toothed comb to verify that the amount of debt you are being sued for is accurate.
Step 4. Contact a lawyer who specializes in consumer protection
You can hire a lawyer who specializes in fair credit or consumer protection, but if you can’t afford one, here are some additional resources:
- Your local legal aid. Try a simple google search with the city or county you live in, followed by the phrase ‘legal aid.’
- Your state consumer affairs department may be able to help you draft a response or negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
- Pro-bono law firms like Public Counsel and the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
- Organizations committed to economic justice, like the National Consumer Law Center
How can I prevent a credit card company from suing me?
Before a credit card company sues you, you will probably receive phone calls, letters, emails, and alerts on your online banking platform in an effort to collect the debt. If you ignore these attempts, a credit card company is more likely to sue you to collect payment.
Answering these phone calls and alerts to set up a payment plan may prevent a lawsuit, but, again, keep in mind that these phone calls are recorded and that anything you say can be used against you.
Know your consumer rights
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you have a right to the following when dealing with credit card debt collections:
Summary: Is your credit card company calling you about a past due balance? Find out if your credit card company can sue you over a debt.
As of 2021, nearly half of American adults have credit card debt. If you’re part of this statistic and struggling to pay your credit card debt, you might be wondering if the credit company can sue you for failed payments.
The answer is yes. A credit card company can file a civil lawsuit to recover the debt if you stop making payments.
What happens if you miss your credit card payments?
If you miss your monthly credit card payments, the credit card company will probably mail you a notice of the missing payments. Then, after some time, usually 30 days, you may start receiving phone calls from the credit card company’s representatives requesting you to pay what you owe. If you miss the next payment, the credit company may escalate its efforts to recover the debt.
For instance, they may hire a debt collection agency to help recover the debt. Your credit report will be negatively affected when this happens, and your credit score will drop significantly. In addition, if time passes by and you show no effort to repay the debt, the credit company might resort to extreme measures such as filing a lawsuit against you.
Some people believe that credit companies won’t bother spending their time or money to sue them, but this isn’t true even though it might be expensive to file a lawsuit, credit card companies bank on the assumption that most people won’t show up in court if summoned for credit card debt.
For this reason, the creditor can decide to sue you if they believe they can recover the legal fees if the court rules in their favor.
If the credit card company files a collection lawsuit against you, you’ll need to file a response to the court within a stipulated period. This period may be between 20 to 30 days, depending on your state. If you fail to file an answer to the court, the plaintiff can request the judge to enter a default judgment against you. They can also request you cover the interest on debt, attorney, and court fees.
Back to the unanswered summons, the court may serve you with a request for a default judgment and give you a second chance to answer the complaint. However, if you ignore the court summons, the judge will go ahead and rule in favor of the plaintiff. This ruling gives the credit card company legal authority to take additional action against you to try and collect its debt in full.
What happens if the judge rules in favor of the credit card company?
After the credit card company wins the lawsuit filed against you, they can request the court’s permission to garnish your wages. They may also petition the court for a judgment lien. A lien will be placed on your assets, e.g., your home or car. So when you sell any of your assets, the creditor will take a share of the proceeds.
In most cases, you can’t be jailed for not paying a debt unless you fail to appear in court and the judge issues a warrant of arrest against you for contempt of court.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to take a collection lawsuit seriously and respond to it in time.
How to respond to a collection lawsuit
Most credit card companies often sell their debts or delegate the duty of following up on credit card debts to independent debt collectors. For this reason, a debt collector might contact you to pay the debt on behalf of the credit company. If you fail to make any payments, the debt collection agency can file a lawsuit against you in court.
It’s always advisable to respond to a lawsuit as soon as you’re served; SoloSuit can help you file an answer document if you don’t know where to start.
But before doing this, there are a few things you should do. These include:
Verify that the debt is yours
Sometimes debt collectors make mistakes and sue people for debt they don’t even owe. These mistakes are rare, but they do happen. In some cases, the debt may be inflated and not what you originally owe the credit card company.
To avoid being a victim of such mistakes, request documentation from the debt collectors verifying that the debt has been assigned to them.
You’ll need to make the request in writing and then send it by mail to the debt collection agency. The debt collector will then respond by sending a copy of the credit card agreement between you and the credit company.
They will also attach proof that the debt has been assigned to them. After verifying that the debt is indeed yours, evaluate the other options as discussed below.
Request a settlement
This is the best option if you want to avoid going to trial and paying legal fees. You can contact the credit company and discuss a payment plan with them. Often, creditors may accept a lump sum payment in exchange for forgiving the remaining debt amount or an installment plan.
If you don’t know how to pursue a settlement agreement on your own, you can hire a lawyer to represent you in the negotiations. However, there’s no guarantee that the credit company will accept a deal with you. If you agree on a payment plan, ensure you put the agreement in writing to prevent any other issues from arising in the future.
Pay the Debt in Full
Settling the debt in full is the best option to consider if you can afford to pay the full amount. It resolves the debt account immediately and helps avoid a lawsuit. However, the collection account will remain on your credit report for at least seven years, and there won’t be much difference in your credit rating even if you settle the debt in full.
File for Bankruptcy
This is the last resort to consider if you can’t pay the debt and face the risk of wage garnishment. You’ll need to consult a bankruptcy attorney to help you with the process of filing for bankruptcy before the court enters a judgment against you.
There’s nothing more stressful than struggling to pay your credit card debt and facing a collection lawsuit at the same time. Worse still, the court can rule against you and give the creditor power to take measures such as wage garnishment or judgment lien.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to respond to a collection lawsuit within the stipulated time. SoloSuit is a great place to start if you’re looking for a fast, attorney-approved response to your debt collection lawsuit.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
Respond with SoloSuit
“First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!” – James
How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state
Here’s a list of guides for other states.
Guides on how to beat every debt collector
Being sued by a different debt collector? We’re making guides on how to beat each one.
We worked with Chris and other staff. Chris from the start really worked with us as we were unsure what to do next and what was the best option for us. Chris spent a great deal of time with me on the phone, over email as well as meeting with my husband and I in his office. It can be scary to have the unknowns as we did and he really helped. When dealing with things you just don’t know about you have to find someone you can trust to lean on and let them handle it; you can’t be an expert on everything. The staff were so helpful and there was never a question on what we needed to get them or needed to do during the process. We were prepared 100% for what was to come and even months after the staff was quick to follow up to make sure that we did not have any questions or have anyone contacting us. They even helped figure out the ‘what next’ and ‘where to go from here’ that comes up. I would recommend them to anyone finding themselves facing financial struggle and trying to decide what to do. They give a free consultation over the phone or in the office; worth the call to find out your options.
I recommend Warren and Migliaccio to anyone who like myself, had no idea of what to do next. They were open and honest to me about my bankruptcy. They took time and explained the whole process to me beforehand. I was treated I’m sure, as their more prominent clients even though I’m a single senior with a limited income. They helped me maintain my dignity and I’m sure my sanity too.
I worked with Chris Migliaccio to resolve a debt matter. He is a professional and knowledgeable attorney that was easy to work with. He has excellent negotiation skills. I highly recommend him.
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Are you being sued by a creditor, like a credit card company? You must figure out what you’re going to do quickly. In the State of Ohio, you have 28 days to respond to a lawsuit. The response must be in writing, and it must be served upon opposing counsel as well as filed with the court.
To make sure that you have responded properly and have preserved your defenses, it’s always recommended that you consult with an attorney if you’re being sued. There are many potential defenses to collections or debt-related lawsuits, but each case is unique and is best examined by an experienced consumer protection attorney. A lawyer will also be able to help you determine the proper course of action.
Another benefit of retaining an attorney if you’re being sued is that he or she can try to keep certain, unauthenticated evidence out of court, as well as demand that the creditor provide all evidence they have.
You might think that hiring an attorney is too expensive or that your debt in question is too small to require one. This is false. No matter what, if you are being sued, an attorney can make a big difference in how your case is handled and how much you end up owing. Depending on the situation, an attorney may be able to get your case resolved by reducing the amount of money you owe. Though counterclaims aren’t common in most debtor defense lawsuits, there may be a possibility.
Most Ohio debt collections lawyers are also priced affordably because of the very nature of the work. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our attorneys are fair in pricing, diligent in protecting your rights, and willing to work out payment plans to make sure that you get the representation you need.
The most important thing is DO NOT ignore the lawsuit. Ignoring collectors’ calls or letters may seem like a good strategy, but ignoring a lawsuit is quite different. If you don’t respond to the lawsuit, the creditor (who is considered the plaintiff in a lawsuit against you) will then obtain a judgment against you. This judgment is a tool that allows the creditor to begin garnishment actions. Typically this entails garnishing 25 percent of your non-exempt wages and garnishing non-exempt cash in your bank accounts. A judgment also allows a creditor to put a judgment lien on any of your personal property and conduct a debtor’s exam to find out if you have any personal property that could be garnished.
There are many defenses that, if successful, will help you avoid a default judgment or wage garnishment. However, the only way to find out if there is a defense applicable to your situation is to call an experienced Ohio consumer protection attorney who can assess your situation.
Due to the widespread presence and utilization of credit cards to make purchases and pay bills, credit card debt is very common.
Debt harms your credit score, drains your bank account, and poses a significant challenge to gaining approval for new credit applications. And, in extreme cases, your credit card companies may decide to sue you if you can’t agree.
Read on to learn more about why credit card companies file lawsuits against their clients and what to do if this happens to you.
Why do credit card companies decide to sue?
Falling behind on your credit responsibilities can be a serious issue. If you ignore calls, emails, or letters from the company, they may bring in a debt collector to settle the problem. But if you continue to ignore the debt collection agency, a lawsuit is likely the next step.
As of 2021, approximately 15 percent of card users are taken to civil court after a collector reaches out.
Late or missed credit card payments, especially over a prolonged period, negatively impact your score.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus, receive reports of your poor credit history and adjust your information accordingly. According to FICO and VantageScore, , the two most popular credit scoring models, payment history is worth 35 percent of your overall credit score.
What happens next?
The overall process of a debt collection lawsuit is similar across most states. When a credit company sues you, you’ll receive a summons from an attorney on behalf of the credit company.
Your summons will contain the following information: who is suing you (also known as the plaintiff), any co-defendants that the credit company may be suing as well (such as a joint cardholder), the amount of money you’re being sued for, the date of the court hearing, and the steps you can take to file a response against the summons if you wish.
Don't ignore a court summons. If you do, it’ll heighten the situation, and the chances of coming to a relatively peaceful solution will grow smaller.
Fortunately, you can’t go to jail for failing to pay your credit card bills or your debt. This is a federal law, falling under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the FDCPA.
Things to do if a credit card company is suing you
If you find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit, here are some measures you can take to help address the situation.
Verify the debt
Credit card companies can make mistakes. Just because they’re claiming you didn’t do this or didn’t do that doesn’t mean their information is correct. You have a right to ask the company and the third-party debt collector to prove that the unpaid credit card debt does belong to you. Make sure to have your request in writing.
Talk to an attorney
Acquiring legal representation is always a smart strategy. A lawyer can help you navigate this situation by negotiating a settlement deal, handling complaints, and, most importantly, by establishing your defense and presenting that defense to a judge.
In some instances, your lawyer may discover that you are a victim of fraud or identity theft or if the statute of limitations surrounding your actions has expired.
Hiring counsel can be expensive, but don't fret; legal aid programs can help you out, and some lawyers may be willing to take on your case pro bono.
Don't ignore the court summons
Avoiding the issue doesn’t make it disappear and will only increase the severity of the lawsuit and any subsequent sentences. If you ignore a summons, you’ll automatically lose your case.
Determine how you'll respond
You have a maximum of 30 days to respond once you receive the summons. Research and review your options to determine how you should move forward, but do so quickly.
What if you lose the lawsuit?
Before going to court or going to court and losing, you can alleviate the consequences. You may want to consider the following:
One: Debt settlement.
If you can’t afford to pay off your debt, be sure to talk to your lawyer about this option, since they can help ensure that you don’t sign a settlement agreement that forfeits your rights. This avoids going to court altogether.
Two: File for bankruptcy.
Like settling the debt, filing for bankruptcy is another option that may keep you out of court if you file for it during the 30 days leading up to the hearing. Although bankruptcy is often a last resort, it can excuse all of your current outstanding debts and allow you to restart. Debt relief could also be an option.
It will dramatically impact your credit score and remains on your credit report for up to 10 years.
Three: Consult a credit counselor.
Unlike an attorney, a credit counseling service can help create a debt management plan or a payment plan that better suits your predicament. This plan can include waiving late penalties, reducing interest rates, and adjusting your monthly payment amounts. Debt consolidation, or amalgamating your debts so that you can pay them off with a single sum each month, is another potential option.
Your credit advisor will speak with the credit card company on your behalf.
Four: Fight the judgment.
If you choose to go down this road, it can be time-consuming and costly. But if you have a solid defense, it may be the best thing to do. If you don’t want a lawyer, you can choose to represent yourself in court instead.
Some banking cards are better than others, and having the right card in your arsenal can help you improve your financial situation and avoid issues like compounding monthly fees and reductions to your credit score.
One tool for you to consider is PointCard.
Point is engineered as a transparent, easy-to-use alternative payment card that allows cardmembers to exercise fiscal independence and spend their own money as they wish. No credit check is required.
All users receive exclusive benefits, including unlimited cash-back and bonus cash-back on subscriptions, food delivery, rideshare services, and coffee shop purchases. With Point’s extensive rewards program, you’ll be able to earn extra money and ease the burden of having to purchase those everyday necessities like groceries and rent payments.
PointCard also comes with multiple built-in safety measures that help you save and protect that wealth. Fraud protection with zero liability, car rental and phone insurance, new purchase insurance, two free ATM withdrawals a month, and no interest rates are just a few of these features.
Regardless of what stage of life you are at or whether you're making efforts to settle your debts or rebuild your finances, Point has your back every step of the way.
By hiring an experienced attorney, we can help reduce the amount you owe on an old credit card or even get your case dismissed. While we make no guarantees, we will work our hardest to get your case dismissed and your debt eliminated.
Dismissals Before Trial
We often can get a case dismissed by forcing the attorney for the credit card company to give us documents proving their case. Considering they file thousands of these cases a year, they often forget to respond to our requests. When we threaten to take them to Court to give us the documents, the credit card company will often dismiss their case.
If the credit card company or debt collector does hand over the documents, we can sometimes get them to dismiss the case by pointing out errors in their paperwork.
Your case can also be dismissed when the credit card company does not actively pursue their claim against you. If your case sits a long time without any activity by the debt collector, the Court will dismiss your case. This is called a “dismissal for want of prosecution.”
Dismissed at Trial
Believe it or not, we often get cases dismissed simply by showing up to trial. Sometimes the attorney for the credit card company does not show up for their trial setting. In this case, the Court dismisses the case and you win!
We can also win your case and have you owe nothing after trial. We work hard to show the credit card company’s documents are not in order, their affidavits are not trustworthy, and/or the debt collector never properly acquired your account.
Contact Us Today
If you have been served with a lawsuit from your old credit card company or a debt collector, call 800-862-1260 or 210-222-2288 (in San Antonio). You may have as little as 14 days to respond.
How to react when sued by your credit card company depends on several things.
Aug. 3, 2013 — — Whether the notice comes in the mail, or is delivered to your doorstep, being told that you are being sued for a credit card debt can be terrifying. For many people, the first reaction is to shut down and ignore the situation. “The tragedy…is not that the consumer was sued but that most never respond,” says Steve Rhode, founder of GetOutofDebt.org who is also working on a research project about lawsuits filed over consumer debts.
If a debtor ignores the lawsuit, however, the creditor will get a judgment against the debtor, which in turn will provide the creditor with additional powers to collect the debt, including seizing bank accounts or garnishing wages, in some states. (Note that in this story we are talking about situations where a credit card company itself sues you – not when a debt collector sues you.)
How to react when you are sued by your credit card company depends on a number of things — including, first and foremost, whether you acknowledge that you owe the debt in question.
You Know You Owe
If you know you owe the debt and the amount is correct, there are a few different ways this can unfold.
If you can scrape together some cash – perhaps with a loan from a friend or family member, for example, then one option is to pay or settle the debt immediately. “A reduction in balance owed or beneficial repayment terms are entirely possible outcomes,” says Rhode.
But you must act quickly.
“Once sued for collection, get immediately involved in the solution,” says debt settlement expert Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network. In his experience, consumers will typically have to come up with 60% – 100% of the amount owed to stop the lawsuit, though smaller settlements are possible in some situations.
If you are able to resolve the debt at this point, you must get written documentation from the creditor acknowledging your payment and stating that the lawsuit will be dropped. This is especially true in cases where you are settling the debt for less than you owe. Otherwise, the creditor may say your settlement was a “payment” and still sue you for the balance.
“Be certain you are agreeing to a settlement that will also result in the dismissal of the lawsuit,” Bovee insists. “Settling quickly means you can avoid a judgment damaging your credit report.”
If you know the amount is correct, but you can’t afford to pay or settle it, it’s a good idea to talk with a bankruptcy attorney to find out whether filing for bankruptcy is your best option for dealing with the debt that you can’t afford. If it turns out that bankruptcy isn’t a good option, the attorney can explain to you what may happen once there is a judgment against you.
There Must Be Some Mistake
What if you don’t believe you owe the amount they are trying to collect? Maybe you disputed a purchase but the creditor refused to correct it. Perhaps you believe you were a victim of fraud. Or maybe your balance has just ballooned with bogus charges. Robert Brennan, a Southern California consumer law attorney, explains:
If you think something is amiss – you are being harassed or the amount you owe has been inflated, for example — you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit and collection issues.
William Howard, a Florida consumer protection attorney with Morgan & Morgan points out that in a few states, including Florida and California in particular, there is a “collection harassment law that allows you to sue “Any Person” (including the original creditor or credit card issuer) directly for harassment such as: collecting one penny not owed, collecting fees they are NOT entitled to such as attorney fees or higher interest, too many calls, calling at work, etc.”
Consumer law attorneys usually offer a free or low-cost consultation, and may take the case at no cost to the consumer since the creditor or collection agency will be required to pay their fees if it turns out they are breaking the law.
While a lawsuit for a debt isn’t something anyone wants to have to deal with, try to keep it in perspective, and focus on resolving it one way or another.
“My advice is to not look at the suit as a negative,” says Rhode. “But as a positive opportunity to negotiate with the lender to work out a solution that might be affordable and beneficial to both parties.”
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Defending You Against Credit Card and Debt Buyer Lawsuits
Have you gotten a summons for a credit card or debt buyer lawsuit? Have you discovered that a creditor or debt buyer already has a judgment against you and is now garnishing your wages and freezing your bank accounts? Are you wondering what to do next?
At The Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, our experienced attorneys provide quality defense representation against credit card and debt buyer lawsuits. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.
Moving Quickly to Protect Your Rights After a Summons
If a credit card debt is overdue, the credit card company can file a debt collection lawsuit. It can also sell its right to collect on the debt to another company called a debt buyer, which can then sue you, sometimes years after the original debt was incurred.
If you have been served with a , you should call an attorney right away, even if your lender is promising to make a deal or you believe the summons is fake. (It almost always is not fake!)
You have very little time to dispute a debt collection lawsuit. If you allow the company suing you to obtain a default judgment by failing to timely answer the lawsuit, it will be much harder to avoid consequences like wage garnishment and frozen bank accounts. In some cases, you only have ten days to answer the lawsuit.
Creditors may use tactics to delay you from contacting a credit card defense lawyer. They may claim that they are willing to work out a deal, but they are under no legal obligation to do so, and they could be pursuing a lawsuit behind your back.
Exploring All of Your Options in Response to a Lawsuit
There are several things our attorneys can do to help in credit card and debt buyer defense cases. First, if a creditor has already obtained a default judgment because they sent the summons to the wrong address or misled you in some way, we may be able to have the judgment vacated.
Second, there are several defenses that can be used against these lawsuits. Many of these suits are brought too late, after the statute of limitations has expired. Also, debt buyers often cannot produce paperwork proving that you owe them anything.
Contact us to discuss what our attorneys can do to help you fight a credit card or debt buyer lawsuit.
Are you a Rockwall County resident being sued for credit card debt? Let the experienced attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm help you challenge the credit card lawsuit. There are laws that exist to protect consumers like you from inaccurate claims and shield you from unfair or harassing conduct. Don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at our conveniently located office in Rockwall County if there is a credit card debt claim being brought against you.
Unpaid credit card debt is often sold by credit card companies to third-party debt collectors for a fraction of the total amount owed by consumers. The credit card debt records may or may not be accurate and complete. Many times there is only weak evidence or even no proof that you owe anything. You may not actually owe anything, or the amount being claimed by the companies could be inaccurate. Credit card companies or third-party collection agencies suing you for unpaid credit card debt must have documentation of any debt owed. Before you admit that you owe anything, contact the attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm’s Rockwall County office. We will evaluate your credit card debt case and make sure that the people attempting to collect from you have been honest and followed all the steps that the law requires.
An entire industry exists to purchase the right to collect on credit card bills from credit card companies. These third-party companies are not the ones who loaned money out to credit card users. Instead, they buy debt at a steep discount from credit card companies and then work to collect as much of the debt as they can to make a profit. Sometimes the collectors resort to questionable tactics. Debt collection companies might send intimidating letters to people, threaten to sue, or call over and over in an attempt to get you to admit that you owe them something. These bad practices are so frequent that there are laws in place to protect people who are target by debt collectors. Don’t give in to aggressive credit card companies or third-party debt collection agencies who are suing you for unpaid credit card bills. Instead, let the attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm in Rockwall County assert your legal rights and make sure that you are treated fairly.
You deserve to have a professional on your side when you are dealing with highly-trained debt collectors. These individuals are skilled at manipulating you into paying as much money as possible, even when their records are inaccurate and they may not be able to prove that you owe anything. Even if you do owe some amount of credit card debt, representation by attorneys from our Rockwall County office shows the credit card debt collectors that you are serious about dealing with the situation. It can save you money to hire an attorney because the company representatives will often behave differently when they know they are dealing with professional representatives. Deal with the debt collectors by letting our experienced attorneys in Rockwall County manage your credit card debt case.
Getting sued can be stressful, and many people don’t know where to start. The most important thing is to respond. That might mean writing a response and showing up to court, by any deadline listed in the court papers, regardless of whether you think you owe the debt or not.
By responding to the lawsuit, either yourself or through an attorney, you can make sure the collector has to prove that you owe the debt, that the amount of the debt is correct, and the debt collector has the legal right to sue you to collect on it. You may even be able to resolve the debt by responding or showing up in court because some collectors would rather settle than go through extended litigation.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the lawsuit. Even if you don’t think you owe that debt. Responding to a debt collector’s lawsuit in court will likely put you in a better situation, cost you less in fees, and give you more control over how you repay the debt.
Here are the main steps to take if you get sued by a debt collector:
- Answer the lawsuit, which you may have to do in writing or by showing up to court — or both. The papers that say the debt collector is suing you will tell you what to do.
- Look over your records about the debt and any information you may have gotten from the collector, including the validation information that debt collectors must send you.
- Spot any issues with the lawsuit. It’s the collector’s responsibility to prove the lawsuit claims. They must prove that you’re the person who owes the debt, the debt amount is accurate, including any interest or fees, and you owe the debt to them and not to someone else. If the debt is old, make sure the time for the collector to sue hasn’t already expired.
What Happens If I Don’t Respond?
Ignoring the legal notices and papers won’t make the lawsuit go away. And despite what you may have seen in TV shows, you can’t stop things by refusing to accept delivery or “service” of the lawsuit. In fact, the case can go ahead without you. That means the court can rule without hearing your side and the debt collector could win by “default” because you didn’t show up.
If the court rules against you and orders you to pay the debt, the debt collector may be able to garnish — or take money from — your wages or bank account, or put a lien on property, like your home. The debt collector can also ask the court to award them additional money for collection costs, interest, and even attorney’s fees. A judgment will likely show up on your credit report and might make it harder to get credit in the future. That can affect whether you get a job, insurance, a phone, or a home.
Where Can I Get Help?
Going to court can feel overwhelming to do alone. But there are options to get legal help, including
- Free or reduced-fee legal help, if you have a low income. To find a legal aid organization near you, use the American Bar Association’s pro bono directory.
- Free online answers to debt collection questions from an attorney in your state, which you may be able to get at org. , if you can afford it. Find a lawyer in your state using the American Bar Association’s Directory. Be sure to ask if they have experience with consumer law, debt collection defense, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Where Do I Report a Debt Collector for Breaking the Law?
Debt collectors must follow the law when contacting you about a debt. Report any problems you have with a debt collector to
- the FTC at ftc.gov
- your state attorney general’s office
- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your attorney general’s office can help you figure out your rights under your state’s law.
If a debt collector breaks the law, you have one year from that date to sue that collector in a state or federal court. You can sue for damages that happened because the collector broke the law — expenses like lost wages or medical bills, or compensation for the effect the debt collector’s actions had on your job or your health.
But even if a court finds a debt collector violated the law in trying to collect a legitimate debt, you may still owe the debt.
Has credit card debt reached the point you have been sued by your credit card company? When people fall behind in their credit card payments, they can find themselves in legal as well as financial trouble. Credit card companies will inflict serious pressure on the debtor, and proceed to file a default judgment against you, garnish wages, levy bank accounts, and take other legal actions in order to collect.
It can be extremely difficult to pay down credit card debt when you are already strained financially. It is essential that you understand your legal options for avoiding the consequences of a judgment against you. You must not ignore the lawsuit. A credit card lawsuit defense attorney at the Kramer Law Firm can assist you immediately to help you get the lawsuit dismissed and work through other debt settlement strategies with your creditor.
If the original creditor (or a debt collection company) filed a lawsuit against you, there are many actions we can take to stop the effort or work out more favorable debt settlement negotiations.
Speak with an experienced Florida attorney at our firm today.
Call 855-Kramer-Now (855-572-6376).
We have represented individuals throughout Central Florida in debt lawsuit defense, defending the lawsuit and helping them stay out of court whenever possible. We are often able to help people avoid paying anything to the creditor.
Allow us review your case and find the best way to defend you against the credit card company and bring about a satisfactory resolution.
Legal Options When Sued by Credit Card Companies:
Depending on the context of the debt and your personal financial situation, our attorneys can implement credit card lawsuit defense options and workouts to help you avert or fight the lawsuit, including:
- Deny liability in a written response to the court to force a more favorable credit card debt settlement;
- Challenge the creditor’s legal standing to sue. Often, debts change hands multiple times. Whether you are sued by a credit card collection agency or the bank, the company that is suing you may not have the proper paperwork and legal standing to take you to court;
- Demand to see the original documentation of your alleged debt. Often, the amount of delinquent debt reported is inaccurate in favor of the debtor;
- Leverage debt settlement strategies to negotiate the debt down, create more favorable repayment terms, or fight the validity of the debt or the legal action;
- File for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get out of the debt or to force a renegotiation on far more favorable terms.
If you have been notified that you are being sued by a credit card company or debt collection agency, you cannot afford to wait to take action. The Kramer Law Firm can help you select an appropriate option to fight back − not only to settle or stop credit card lawsuits, but also to help you and your family sustain financial recovery.
Our experienced debt defense lawyers can advise you in ways many law firms cannot. Our law firm has helped a great many consumers who were overwhelmed with debt regain full control of their finances. Regaining – or finding – a life without debt is a primary goal we have for our clients.
Contact an Experienced Credit Card Attorney
If being sued by credit card companies has made your life spin out of control, you need representation by a skilled debt defense attorney. If you do not defend against the lawsuit, the credit card company will hold you legally liable for the full amount. Whatever your circumstances may be, the Kramer Law Firm can take effective measures to help you recover and thrive.
If a person or business believes you owe them money, they will contact you by mail. If you do not pay, or if you ignore their letters, they may take you to court to get the money.
Getting sued by a creditor
- Who is suing you
- What the creditor wants
Getting sued can be complicated, so you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. If you are a senior or have low income, legal aid may be able to help you.
You can also try to negotiate with your creditor. If you pay any money you owe, the creditor will likely drop the case. Or you might be able to work out a payment plan so you could pay some now and some later. Get all agreements in writing.
Motion for default judgment or summary judgment
Sometimes even if you file an answer, a creditor may file a “Motion for Summary Judgment.” Creditors file this type of motion to avoid going to court and to avoid a hearing. This motion asks the court to make a decision that you owe money without going to hearing.
It can be hard to respond to either motion without a lawyer. Try to get help from a lawyer.
At the mediation or hearing
Some courts will schedule a mediation to try to settle the matter before scheduling a hearing. Go to the mediation. The mediation will provide an opportunity to try to resolve the matter with the help of a neutral third party called a mediator.
After you file your answer, the court may schedule a hearing to decide the case. Go to the hearing. If you do not attend the hearing, you may lose the case automatically.
It is important to attend the hearing, and to know what to expect. Learn more about how to get ready for a hearing.
Be prepared in case the creditor doesn’t show up
If your creditor does not attend the hearing, ask the judge to dismiss the case by saying, “Your Honor, since the plaintiff is not here, I would request that the case be dismissed.” You may automatically win the case if the creditor skips the hearing.
The creditor has to prove that you owe the money
At the hearing, the creditor is required to prove that you owe the money, and then prove how much you owe.
You have the right to question the creditor. You can ask them how they came up with the amount. Also, you can ask the creditor to show the original agreement or contract the debt is based on.
The court’s decision
If the creditor wins, the court will award them a “judgment.” A judgment allows the creditor to collect money from you.
You have options. We provide legal defense to individuals who are sued by credit card companies or collection agencies at a flat rate with no hidden charges.
If you have been served with a lawsuit filed by a credit card company or a collection agency, you have 30 days to file your response to the lawsuit, or a default judgment will be entered against you.
A judgment will have serious consequences:
- Judgments Will Seriously Affect Your Credit Score
- Judgment Creditors can garnish your wages
- Judgment Creditors can attach and seize assets
- Judgment Creditors may record Liens against you and your property
- Judgments will make it difficult to negotiate a settlement with the Judgment Creditor
Filing a response and defending a lawsuit has many advantages:
- Prevents the Creditor from obtaining a default judgment
- Postpones any potential for obligations for months and perhaps over a year
- Allows our firm to negotiate a settlement with the creditor with terms that is affordable to you, and prevents a financial hardship.
- Prevents a judgment creditor to record liens against Your Property until the Creditor proves their case in court, and only if the win the lawsuit.
- Most often, a Settlement will result in a dismissal of the lawsuit, and so long as you perform pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, and pay the installments on time, no judgment will be entered against you.
What Our Fee Includes:
- We first file an answer and response to your lawsuit, to prevent the judgment creditor from obtaining a default judgment against you.
- We demand from the judgment creditor to provide all documents that substantiates the claims made in their lawsuit.
- We discuss various settlement alternatives available to you, and together we determine what settlement term is best suited for you.
- We present an offer and settlement, and negotiate a settlement that you can you feel comfortable with, and one that you can afford.
- We draft or review the settlement agreement.
- Under most circumstances, we insure that the settlement agreement requires a dismissal of the lawsuit, as a condition of the settlement.
Benefits of Settlement :
- Settlement Amounts are often substantially less than what the lawsuit alleges you owe. Although we cannot guarantee the outcome of any case, and depending on the circumstances, we can generally reduce the amount owed to a creditor to anywhere between %20 to %70, which can add up to thousands of dollars.
- Under most circumstances, a settlement avoids payment of interest on the amount owed.
- Going to trial instead of entering into a settlement agreement is risky and you may lose, and be responsible for the entire amount alleged in the lawsuit, including court costs, interest, and attorney fees.
- A judgment entered against you after the trial, may and is likely to adversely affect your credit.
- Trials are disruptive. You will have to take time off work to attend trial. Also, you may have to have witnesses to appear and testify to your defense. Lastly, trials are stressful for many individuals, and most individuals do not like to go through a trial.
How Much Will it Cost You?
We Offer Individuals with a flat fee Attorneys fees Agreement depending on the amount owed:
1) If the lawsuit is for $5000 or less:
- We charge a flat rate of $750, plus
- You have to pay a court filing fee of $225.00
2) If the lawsuit is for $5001 to $10,000:
- We charge a flat rate of $975.00, plus
- You have to pay a court filing fee of $225.00
3) If the lawsuit is $10,001 to $25,000:
- We charge a flat fee of $1,250.00, plus
- You have to pay a court filing fee of $375.00
4) If the lawsuit is for an amount more than $25,000, please contact us for rates.
What Our Fee Includes:
- Preparation and filing of an answer to the lawsuit in Court, to prevent the judgment creditor from obtaining a default judgment against you.
- We demand from the judgment creditor to provide all documents that substantiates the claims made in their lawsuit.
- Propounding and Responding to Discovery.
- We discuss various settlement alternatives available to you, and together we determine what settlement term is best suited for you.
- We present an offer and settlement, and negotiate a settlement that you can you feel comfortable with, and one that you can afford.
- We draft or review the settlement agreement.
- Under most circumstances, we insure that the settlement agreement requires a dismissal of the lawsuit, as a condition of the settlement.
What Our Fees Do Not Cover:
1) Our fees do not include Court Fees, Court Interpreter Charges, Court Reporter Charges, Process Server Charges, Subpoena Witness Charges, Expert Witness Fees, or other additional out of pocket costs incurred in preparation of trial.
2) In the unlikely event that your case does not settle, and your case goes to trial, there is an additional $750.00 charge.
3) Our Fees does not include for any post trial motions, or appeals. A new retainer agreement will be required for any post trial motions or appeals.
If you have a number of creditors suing you, or if you can’t afford to pay any settlement to your creditors, you may be eligible to file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. You can obtain additional information on bankruptcy from here, or call our office for a free consultation.
Call For Free Initial Consultation
888.777.9917 or 818.484.7823
The Law Offices of Tony Forberg in Glendale, California provides Consumer Lending Defense, collection defense, and Bankruptcy representation in the Los Angeles (LA) area, the San Fernando Valley, the Inland Empire, and throughout Southern California in communities such as Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, East L.A., Huntington Park, El Monte, Fullerton, Pomona, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, San Bernardino, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Orange, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Torrance, Inglewood, San Diego, Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale, and San Buenaventura (Ventura).
Los Angeles County | Orange County | Riverside County | San Bernardino County | Ventura County
Defending Yourself Against a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit in Montgomery Court of Common Pleas
Authored By: Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Norristown)
DEFENDING YOURSELF AGAINST A CREDIT CARD DEBT LAWSUIT IN MONTGOMERY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
When faced with a lawsuit, the single most important thing you can do is file a timely Answer
Preparing an Answer:
- In order to defend yourself in the lawsuit, you must file a written response to the Complaint. This response is called an “Answer” and must be filed within 20 days from the date you received the lawsuit
- If you do not file an Answer within 20 days, a default judgment may be found against you.
- You should first write the caption exactly as you see it on the Complaint at the top of the page. This includes: the name of the case, the name of the Court, case number, and the title of “Answer”.
- Then write your own response of “Admitted” or “Denied” to each paragraph in the complaint so that your “answer” matches the numbered paragraph in the Complaint
- If you believe a paragraph in the Complaint is true, your answer should say, for example, “1. Paragraph 1 is admitted”.
- If you believe a paragraph is false, you should say, for example, “2. Paragraph 2 is denied”. You must give a reason of why you are denying the truth of that paragraph.
- If you believe a paragraph is both true and false, you should, for example, state. 3. “Paragraph 3 is admitted in part and denied in part”, and explain why.
Can I enter a Defense of why I do not owe the money?
- Yes, these facts are called “New Matter”. After you have finished answering each paragraph of the complaint, start a new paragraph titled “New Matter” underneath your answers and write out the facts to support your New Matter.
- This is where you write your defenses.
- Possible defenses:
- Identity theft or mistaken identity
- Dispute the Debt: if you believe the debt alleged you owe is incorrect
- Statute of Limitations: if you have not paid your bill in 4+ years, the debt has expired
- Debt buyer is claiming you owe them, not your original credit card company
- In order to prove they “own your debt” they must show proof that they purchased your debt, and a chain of assignments which reflects every credit card statement going back to the first statement you received
Though not required, if you have documentation to support your defenses, you should attach it as an exhibit to your answer. Each exhibit should be labeled alphabetically (i.e. Exhibit “A”, “B”, “C”, etc.) and can be referred to in your document by the alphabetic labels that you assign.
If you include new matter with your answer, you should also include a notice to plead, followed by your signature, in the top right hand corner (see example below). This compels the plaintiff to respond to your new matter and preserves your right to seek recourse with the court in the event that plaintiff fails to do so.
How to file your Answer
- File at the Prothonotary at the Montgomery County Courthouse (2 East Airy Street, Norristown), or the Willow Grove Office (102 York Road, Suite 302, Willow Grove)
- Make sure you have signed at the bottom of your Answer!
- Note: there will a filing fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee, request an In forma Pauperis (IFP) so that you can explain to the Court why you cannot afford the filing fee, and they may waive it
- File a copy along with a Certificate of Service, keep a copy, and send a copy to the other part
NOTICE TO PLEAD
You are hereby notified to file a written response to the enclosed New Matter within twenty (20) days from service hereof or a judgment may be entered against you.
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL DIVISION – LAW
(The other side’s name) ,
) Case No.: (fill in case number)
ANSWER AND NEW MATTER
And now, comes the Defendant, (your name), pro se, who answers Plaintiff’s Complaint as follows:
- Paragraph 1 is admitted.
- Paragraph 2 is admitted.
- Paragraph 3 is denied. (Explain what the true facts are).
- Paragraph 5 is admitted in part and denied in part. (Explain what part is admitted and what part is denied, and what the true facts are; or, if you do not know what the fact are, then use the following phrase: “After reasonable investigation, I am without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of paragraph 5, and therefore it is denied.”)
- Here write out any other facts you feel the Court should know in your favor. Number each paragraph. Keep each paragraph short. Here is where you write out in separately numbered paragraphs each affirmative defense you are claiming such as payment, statute of limitations, mistaken identity, prior bankruptcy filing, etc.
WHEREFORE, the defendant requests that judgment be entered against the plaintiff.
(Type or print your name,
address and phone number)
I verify that the statements made in this Answer and New Matter are true and correct. I understand that false statements herein are made subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. §4904, relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.
Date: _________ _____________________________
Special thanks to North Penn Legal Services for their contribution to this handout .
A collection lawsuit occurs when a creditor files a petition with the court to begin a lawsuit against a consumer who owes them money. Collection lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming. Most creditors will opt not to go this route when trying to collect an alleged debt repayment. If there are other options available, creditors will tend to go with another method.
Most of the time, a creditor will choose the quickest way to get their payment by repossessing your car, home, or terminating your utilities. Collection lawsuits are rarely issued for debts under $1,000. In cases where a customer is making small payments, even if these payments are below the minimum requirement of the creditor, the creditor will not issue a lawsuit.
More aggressive collection agencies will threaten to garnish employee wages as payment for a debt. However, the creditor cannot take control of your wages unless they have obtained a court judgment.
A credit counselor can help clarify credit issues before a lawsuit issue arises, but make sure you are dealing with qualified counselors. If your problem is housing debt, look for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved agencies. The Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) is a good choice for credit card issues and other debt problems.
Debts less than $1,000 rarely result in collection lawsuits.
Before a Lawsuit
Trying to negotiate a workout agreement with the creditor might help at this point, but it won't be easy. Robert J. Hobbs from the National Consumer Law Center and lead author of Fair Debt Collection, the authoritative treatise on debt collection law, says:
Could Declaring Bankruptcy Help?
Telling creditors you might have to declare bankruptcy can help minimize their threats. Most creditors prefer to get paid some of the debt versus none at all. If they realize the consumer will go bankrupt, they might be more receptive to working out a plan. This might be a good idea. Hobbs says, “It could be if the consumer had talked to a bankruptcy attorney and therefore could be convincing to the debt collector.”
You might be able to defend your case if you never received the good or service stated in the lawsuit, the good was defective, the contract for the service was legally canceled, or the contract was illegal to begin with. Also, make sure the information the collector has about the debt you owe is correct, and ask for documentation backing up the claim.
Once a lawsuit has been issued against you, read and follow the summons instructions carefully, appear in all required court appearances, and provide all the documentation that can help defend you. In some cases, a creditor will drop a lawsuit if it appears that you are just not giving up.
The creditor is spending money on lawyer fees and court appearances pursuing this lawsuit and the longer you put up a fight, the better your chances can be of getting the lawsuit dismissed. However, consult your lawyer on the appropriate steps you need to take in defending your specific case. Each case is different and the laws that apply to consumers and creditors in each state also vary.
If you need a lawyer for legal advice on how to handle your particular case, there are resources available for those with limited income. The Legal Services Corp. (LSC) provides programs in each state that can help. Local organizations such as your library, community center, or senior citizens center might also be a good provider of information for free or low-cost legal advice. Your state or county bar association can be another option. They often provide referrals for fee lawyers who deal with consumer credit issues. Organizations like the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) or the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) can also provide assistance.
After a lawsuit is initiated, Hobbs suggests going to the National Association of Consumer Advocates as a resource. "It has a directory of good attorneys. It is too late for credit counselors at that point."
According to the book, Solve Your Money Troubles, by Robin Leonard and John Lamb, when looking for ways to defend your case, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the seller use false advertising to entice you to buy their product or service?
- Were you pressured into buying? Were high-pressure tactics used?
- Was key information about the transaction or agreement hidden and only surfaced after you had already signed the agreement?
- Did the seller give you a “right to cancel” form? This document gives you the right to cancel a sale within three days for any reason.
- Was the product you bought defective or didn’t work at all and the seller refused to repair or replace it? Did the product not work like you were told it would?
- Was the service you paid for not provided or was it only partially provided?
- Did the seller not comply with the warranty agreements?
- Were there deceptive terms in the loan you signed?
- Was the car you bought a lemon, costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs?
- Were payments made to the creditor not properly credited to your account?
The Bottom Line
There are a number of ways to defend yourself when a collection lawsuit has been launched against you. Just remember that there are resources available to you if this ever occurs. If you’re unsure of what to do, it’s always best to consult a lawyer. “The best thing is to find a lawyer who recognizes that they have a defense that will allow him to represent you for a low fee or a fee that will be paid by the debt collector,” says Hobbs.
Have you been sued by a credit card attorney, credit card company or debt collector? Broward County credit card lawsuits can be defended or completely eliminated in a Fort Lauderdale Bankruptcy.
Collecting old credit card debt is big business in Fort Lauderdale. When you are served with a credit card lawsuit, it’s never a good idea to ignore the lawsuit. The Broward Clerk of Court gets hundreds of credit card lawsuits filed daily by the same debt collection firms. The debt collection law firms play a numbers game and they know that a vast majority of those that they sue for credit card debt in Fort Lauderdale will never respond to the lawsuit and they will get a default judgment. Some of the most common Ft Lauderdale credit card lawsuits are filed by the original credit card company but the majority of credit card lawsuits are filed by debt buyers.
Debt buyers buy old debt from the original credit card companies for pennies on the dollar. They buy millions of dollars of debt this way and file thousands of credit card lawsuits. It’s a numbers game for them.
Credit Card Lawsuits in Broward County Use Mediation To Intimidate You Into a Payment Plan
You’re not alone if you’ve been sued over an old credit card debt in Ft Lauderdale. However, once the debt collector’s attorney files a credit card lawsuit, they are now subject to Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure and are required to prove their case in a legal setting. They love to file cases in County Court. Why? Because in Broward’s County Court, everyone is automatically steered to a mediation on the day of court. The credit card attorneys know that you will probably show up without an attorney and they will be able to intimidate you into a payment plan. Unfortunately, they are right most of the time.
If You’ve Been Sued By a Credit Card Debt Collector in Ft Lauderdale – Don’t Ignore It.
But, if you don’t fall for these intimidation techniques that are unwittingly helped along by the court system who is trying to keep from being inundated with these debt collection lawsuits, your odds of winning your Ft Lauderdale credit card lawsuit are really pretty good. The fact is that any credit card debt collector can claim that you owe them money. But, once they file a credit card lawsuit, the burden shifts to them to prove it and their proof must meet the legal standards imposed by Florida law. For many Fort Lauderdale credit card lawsuits, that’s a standard they cannot meet. They are counting on your agreeing to pay them during the mediation.
Broward County Credit Card Lawsuit Defense Attorney
Once a credit card lawsuit is filed in Fort Lauderdale by a debt collector’s attorney, all that means is that they now have to prove to a judge that you owe the money. And that requires more than just saying you do. Even if you owe the money, they still have to prove you do according to the law and Florida law requires them to keep very good records. If your debt has been sold to a debt buyer, your odds just got better because they buy debt in bulk but that doesn’t mean that they have the underlying records of your account that are necessary to prove that you owe the money. Once a credit card lawsuit is filed, the burden of proof in on them to prove that you owe the money – not the other way around. Sometimes the best credit card lawsuit defense is making them prove you owe it!
Choose Between a Card Lawsuit Defense or Elimination Through a Ft Lauderdale Bankruptcy
Dealing with a Ft Lauderdale credit card lawsuit can be done by either defending it in state court or eliminating it through a Pembroke Pines bankruptcy case. If you have other credit cards that you stopped paying on, you will probably have more credit card lawsuits coming your way. It seems that when one card lawsuit gets filed, they all file! When you have many unpaid credit cards pending, sometimes it’s just easier and more economical to wipe them all out with a Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy rather than defending each one individually.
Don’t be Bullied, Harassed or Intimidated by a Ft. Lauderdale Credit Card Lawsuit
You’ve already been taken advantage of by the credit card companies. Don’t let their lawsuit attorney take advantage of you either. You have very powerful options in bankruptcy law and you can also defend the lawsuit in state court if you choose.
Helping You Find A Solution if You Are Sued By a Debt Collector in Broward County
Fighting the evil credit empire is what we do and we love it! The Bankruptcy Law Firm of Orfelia Mayor can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. But that starts with one of our free consultations at our Cooper City office.
Contact us today for a no-charge, no-obligation bankruptcy consultation throughout Broward and Palm Beach County. We happily service clients in: Broward County including Oakland Park, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Miramar, Dania Beach, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Lighthouse Point, Margate, Weston, North Lauderdale, Coconut Creek, Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Tamarac, West Park, Weston. In Palm Beach, we serve clients in Boca Raton, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Lantana, Boynton Beach, and all cities in Palm Beach County.
It usually takes about six months of not making payments on a debt before you can be sued. Generally speaking, creditors and credit card company employees would rather work out a viable payment plan with their debtors than initiate legal action.
This is because taking legal action for debt collection not only costs money but can prolong the collections process. Nevertheless, it is possible to be sued for a debt, especially if you fail to communicate with your creditor and miss multiple payments.
This article covers the basics of what to do if a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you for unpaid debt. It will cover everything from reading the complaint to choosing the right attorney.
See our debt relief section for more information about ways to budget for and deal with debt.
Being Sued After Making Good Faith Efforts
You may be sued by a creditor even if you have offered to make small payments on your balance or to cooperate with a collection agency. But creditors typically do not sue debtors who are at least making a good faith effort to repay a debt, so this is a less likely situation.
Receiving and Answering a Complaint
Usually, the first indication that you are being sued for debt comes in the form of a legal complaint and summons. The complaint describes the nature and dollar amount of the claims against you for unpaid debt.
The summons is a written notification that you are required to appear in court on a given date if you wish to defend yourself against the claim.
So, if you wish to defend against a creditor’s legal claim against you — even if you agree with the claim but would rather work out a settlement — you should generally answer the complaint.
Refusing to Answer a Credit Card Debt Complaint
If you simply ignore the complaint by not replying with a formal answer, your inaction may result in a default judgment against you. This means they will find you guilty, and the judge will decide your penalty.
They can go directly to your paycheck and use wage garnishment to repay your debts. Companies can also access your bank account to take assets to repay debt. If this is happening to you, you need legal advice on the federal laws that can help or hurt you.
Basics of a Credit Card Lawsuit
You and/or the cosigner of your loan or account will be listed as the defendant(s). The complaint will describe:
- Why the creditor is suing you
- How much money the creditor is seeking in damages (typically the amount owed, plus interest and any applicable penalties)
You will have a certain amount of time to answer the complaint. Typically, this is about 20 days, depending on the state in which the claim was filed.
Basics of Answering a Credit Card Lawsuit
You may have to pay a filing fee to the court clerk when submitting your answer to the complaint, but low income defendants may qualify for a waiver.
Your answer typically will include:
- Admission or denial of the claim
- Any legal defenses
- Potential counterclaims
- Your signature
If you have income that is exempt from wage garnishment, such as Social Security payments, it may be included in the answer, as well.
How to Win a Credit Card Lawsuit
The key to winning a credit card debt collection lawsuit is strong affirmative defenses. You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and can fight back in civil court.
If you plan to defend a claim against you, an attorney can help you decide which defenses make the most sense. Since many consumer contracts include a provision for settling disputes through arbitration, the lawsuit may not even be valid.
Also, the claim must be filed within the time limit set by your state (the statute of limitations). If the creditor is outside of this limit, then you can have your case dismissed. Usually, a creditor has two or three years to bring a lawsuit, but in some states, they have as long as six years. Additionally, some states have different statutes of limitations for debt-related lawsuits.
The first step is to reviews the contracts, facts, and evidence with an attorney experienced in credit card lawsuits. Your attorney will be able to determine whether the debt lawsuit is valid. If the evidence does not make a strong enough case in your favor, you can try other defenses or discuss a settlement.
Defense to a Debt Claim: Ownership of the Debt
A creditor suing you for an unpaid debt also must be able to document ownership of the debt.
Creditors frequently sell debts to other entities, which are then considered "debt collectors" for legal purposes. These debt buyers must be able to produce documentation of the debt in order to sue you, a requirement that does not apply to the original creditor.
Therefore, you should request verification of the debt in writing once you are contacted by a debt collector (which may be another financial institution). If it cannot provide written proof, it may not collect from you.
Asking for Proper Documentation
Also, creditors are required by law to attach a copy of the account or written contract to the complaint, or else explain in the complaint why it is not attached. If the creditor or collector cannot produce the proper documentation, you may ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Other Common Defenses for Credit Card Account Debt
Other defenses include:
- Mistaken identity
- The debt has been discharged in bankruptcy
- Fraudulent charges (if credit card debt)
- The creditor violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- You have already paid the debt
- The creditor didn’t properly serve you
These defenses may depend on your state laws.
In some cases, a family member may have used the card in an authorized or non-authorized way. Since your name and Social Security number are the ones tied to the debt, this still means you are responsible. You can name your family member in a lawsuit to get them to pay you back. However, you will still be facing the original lawsuit and collection activity from the collection agency or credit card company.
Settling or Negotiating Your Debt Lawsuit
You have the option to negotiate with the company bringing the lawsuit against you. You can offer to pay a lump sum that is less than you owe, because the company may find it beneficial to get that money upfront. They may value getting some of the money faster instead of all of the money more slowly.
You usually have the options to:
- Negotiate for less money owed
- Settle for a lump sum
- Set up a payment plan
These options may depend on the original contract and who is in charge of the debt management now.
When to Ask an Attorney for Help
You may need different attorneys, depending on the situation. For example, a bankruptcy attorney can step in if you cannot repay debts and need to declare bankruptcy.
Attorney’s fees and court costs can seem intimidating when you already have debt. Keep in mind an attorney can submit a counterclaim or work for an automatic stay, which will get you some time to seek debt relief.
Credit card debt lawsuits can be straightforward. This saves you time and money in legal fees, and chances are you’ll have a better outcome with a professional watching out for your best interests.
Sued by a debt collector?
You have come to the right place.
Serving the Entire State of Texas
If you found your way to this web page then you are probably being sued by a credit card company or debt collection agency. Many lenders file lawsuits in the state of Texas to collect debt.
Being sued is a scary, nerve-wracking experience. Most people have no experience with the court system, so there are a lot of unknowns. We may be able to help you with this situation, but you have to act quickly.
Don’t ignore the problem.
Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. If you ignore the lawsuit, then the plaintiff (the person suing you) may get a default judgment. A default judgment is a court order that says that the person suing you wins automatically because you failed to respond to the lawsuit. Having a judgment against you is a very bad thing. Judgment problems include:
- Clouding title on your homestead.
- Garnishment of your bank accounts.
- Seizure of your non-exempt property.
- Reporting the judgment to the credit bureaus.
So what can you do?
A large percentage of defendants who are sued ignore the lawsuit, and as a result, the plaintiff may win automatically. Hiring an attorney to represent you greatly increases your chances of a successful outcome in this matter.
What happens if you fight the lawsuit?
Many people sued by debt collectors do not hire an attorney. The plaintiff knows this and is hoping you do not hire an attorney and fight the lawsuit. If you do nothing then they win. If you hire an attorney:
- The plaintiff may dismiss the lawsuit before trial.
- The plaintiff may offer to settle the lawsuit for significantly less than the amount listed in the lawsuit.
But isn’t hiring an attorney expensive?
We charge a simple flat fee for credit card lawsuit defense. This means you will not have to pay an hourly rate and there will be no surprises about the cost of defending your lawsuit. We offer free consultations to discuss your situation and affordable payments plans with low monthly payments.
Call now for a free consultation.
By now I am sure you have a lot of questions. We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. Please call us at 800-296-9127 to find out how we can help.
It can be difficult to remember what credit cards you have been issued, what you may owe, whether the time limit to be sued (statute of limitations) has passed, etc. Credit card debt is usually purchased by someone other than the original lender who issued you the card. How can you defend a law suit from someone trying to collect a credit card debt without this information?
WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST ME?
If you are sued by the original issuer of the credit card or by a financial institution like a bank, there are no specific requirements.However, if you are sued by a person, other than a financial institution, that purchases any outstanding credit card debt, the complaint must include at least:
- The name of the issuer;
- The last four digits of the account number originally assigned by the issuer;
- All subsequent account numbers assigned to the credit card debt by all assignees of the credit card debt; and
- The date of the default on the credit card debt.
WHAT CAN I DO IF THE REQUIRED INFORMATION IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE COMPLAINT?
You can ask the court to dismiss the complaint by filing an ANSWER asserting the failure to include the information as an “affirmative defense”.You can find ANSWERS for both Justice Court and District Court under the topic Civil Forms on the Civil Law Self-Help Center website and click on the combined answer (debt or loan)for the proper court.
IF I DO FILE AN ANSWER, WHAT HAPPENS?
The court will hold a hearing where the Plaintiff must prove that you owe money (are liable) and how much you owe.
AT THE HEARING, HOW CAN THE PLAINTIFF PROVE THAT I OWE MONEY?
By submitting either: the written application for a credit card account that you submitted to the issuer or evidence that you incurred charges on the account and made payments thereon.
AT THE HEARING, HOW CAN THE PLAINTIFF PROVE HOW MUCH MONEY I OWE?
By submitting by photocopies of either:The periodic billing statements provided by the issuer; or Information stored by the issuer on a computer, microfilm, microfiche or optical disc which indicate the amount of the debt owed.
AT THE HEARING, HOW CAN THE PLAINTIFF PROVE THAT ITS RECORDS ARE AUTHENTIC (GENUINE)?
By submitting either: a copy of the record which is authenticated by a custodian of the records of a banking or financial institution in a signed affidavit under the procedures set forth in NRS 52.450 to 52.480, a written affidavit sufficient to establish: (1) The affiant as the custodian of the written records offered as evidence; (2) That the written records offered as evidence were made in the ordinary course of the issuer’s business; and (3) That the written records are true and correct copies of the records retained by the issuer.
AT THE HEARING, HOW CAN I PROVE THAT THE CHARGES WERE MADE BY ANOTHER PERSON?
You can prove liability of a person other than the cardholder for the amount of any debt owed to an issuer may be established by evidence indicating that the person caused the charge to be incurred on the credit card account.
HOW LONG MUST AN ISSUER OR A PURCHASER OF CREDIT CARD DEBT KEEP RECORDS OF THE CHARGES?
For at least 24 months.
IF I DO NOT FILE AN ANSWER, WHAT HAPPENS?
The issuer of the card or purchaser of credit card debt may seek a default judgment against you.
WHAT MUST AN ISSUER OR A PURCHASER OF CREDIT CARD DEBT SHOW IN ORDER TO GET A DEFAULT JUDGMENT?
To get a default judgment against you:a purchaser of credit card debt must first show the court that the complaint contains the information described above name of the issuer; last four digits of the account number, etc.), both issuers and purchasers of credit card debt must submit the same authenticated records showing that you owe the money and how much which are described above.
WHAT IF THE PLAINTIFF GETS A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WITHOUT THE NECESSARY PROOF?
If you were never served with a summons and complaint you may discover that a default judgment was entered against you for the first time when your wages or bank accounts are garnished. To stop the garnishment and seek to have your day in court, you can file a Motion to Vacate. This form is availalbe at the Civil Law Self-Help Center website under Forms.
You can find one on this website under Motion to Vacate (never served) Read the instructions Part I and Part II carefully. Where the Motion asks you to state a defense, state: Defendant has the following meritorious defense(s):Plaintiff is a purchaser of credit card debt and the complaint fails to contain the below checked information required by NRS Chapter 97A as amended by AB 472 (effective 7-1-09) and/or Plaintiff failed to satisfy the standards of proof in subsections 1 and 2 of NRS 97A.160.
If you were served with a summons and complaint you may discover that a default judgment was entered against you for the first time when your wages or bank accounts are garnished. To stop the garnishment and seek to have your day in court, you can file a Motion to Vacate. You can find one on this website under Motion to Vacate (got served). Read the instructions Part I and Part II carefully. When filling out the motion insert languate such as: Plaintiff is a purchaser of credit card debt and the complaint fails to contain the below checked information required by NRS Chapter 97A as amended by AB 472 (effective 7-1-09) and/or Plaintiff failed to satisfy the standards of proof in subsections 1 and 2 of NRS 97A.160.
The following web sites may provide additional information or assistance regarding consumer law: