Collection Lawsuits and Judgments: The Best Strategies to Defend Yourself

  The strategies we use to help our clients who are being sued or who don’t want to file bankruptcy

 1. Lawsuit defense -  Over 90% of the consumers who are sued by debt collectors just ignore the lawsuit papers they receive. Why? I can’t say for sure, but I think that  there are three main reasons: (1) they don’t really understand what will happen if the creditor gets a judgment against them, (2) they think that hiring a lawyer is too  expensive, or (3) they are just overwhelmed with their debt situation and just sort of hope that it will go away on its own.  Whether you are being sued for a credit card,  repossession, medical bill, or any other debt, you have the right to defend the lawsuit. Even if you legitimately owe the money, there are probably still good defenses you  can raise, and just filing an answer to the lawsuit will give you greater negotiating power with the creditor.

2. Negotiating a payment plan –  Even if you are being sued by your creditor, it’s probably not too late to work out a payment arrangement, but you will most likely get  a much better result if you are represented by a competent attorney. If you try to call the creditor’s attorney yourself, chances are you will have to deal with some nasty  debt collector on the other end. It is very unlikely you will actually get through to an attorney. If you hire us, we can deal directly with the attorney handling the case against  you, and we can set up a payment arrangement in which the creditor promises not to take a judgment against you.  If the creditor already has a judgment, we can often settle the claim in a way that prevents the enforcement of the judgment through wage garnishment or bank account restraint.

3. Debt settlement – Nothing makes me angrier than the television commercials, direct mailings, and other scams out there promising to settle your debts for “pennies on  the dollar.” In fact, did you know that is actually illegal in New York for anyone other than an attorney to charge you a fee up front for debt settlement?  The statistics show  that only 5% of the people who enroll in debt settlement programs actually have all their debts settled, and yet every month I talk to dozens of local people who have been  sucked into these debt settlement programs, sometimes paying thousands of dollars into the program until they finally call me for real help. Anyone who tells you that they  can guarantee a creditor will settle a debt for 50% on the dollar is lying to you. Sometimes creditors will settle for this percentage (maybe even lower), but each creditor has  its own criteria, and you need to approach the creditor in the smartest way possible to get the best deal. We are confident that we get better results for our clients than any  other local attorney.  

4. Suing abusive debt collectors – Collection agents and attorneys have to follow strict federal rules when they try to collect a debt against you. They can’t call you all hours  of the day, they can’t harass you at work, and they can’t threaten to take certain actions against you (like having you arrested) for not paying a bill. However, many debt  collectors violate these federal laws every day. This just isn’t right. We have an attorney in our office whose main practice is suing abusive debt collectors, and it doesn’t  cost you a dime to pursue a federal claim unless you win.

17 Responses to Collection Lawsuits and Judgments: The Best Strategies to Defend Yourself

  1. Peter says:

    If a judgment is taken against you after your bankruptcy for a debt that was listed in your bankruptcy petition, this is a serious violation of your bankruptcy rights. You should contact our office so we can help you fix this.

  2. Peter says:

    Robert:

    Not it if the judgment is for a debt included in your bankruptcy and the creditor received actual notice. If the judgment is taken illegally, the creditor is subject to contempt proceedings in bankruptcy court and maybe other legal actions.

    Peter

  3. Daniel says:

    To whom it may concern,
    I am writing in regards to a judgement that was placed against me back in December due to backpay from a rental matter it has been dealt with in town court and I have since then been evicted from where I had been currently residing for 4 years and have no longer been living there since then.I would like to set up and arrange some kind of payment option with your law firm to resolve and take care of this judgement against me as soon as possible so that both parties myself and the creditor I owe so that things may be resolved in a timely and good manner thank you.

  4. Melissa says:

    If there are judgements against you and there are 2 seperate accounts (one solely in my name and another as joint), can both accounts be put on hold? What happens if the garnishing of wages goes into effect BEFORE the filing of Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

  5. Cynthia says:

    I just received a letter from your firm informing me that a judgement had recently been entered against me from a bill collector in the amount of $11,539.55. I was not aware of the judgement until I received your letter. I am an end-stage kidney disease patient on hemo dialysis and I pay large insurance premiums for my healthcare, plus co-pays for renal medication. I live on SSD and my ex husband gives me $1,300 a month (half of his GM pension, of which I am entitled to). As I have not filed for a QDRO, the money he gives me has not been court ordered. He just has it direct deposited into my account every month. I know that my SSD can’t be touched by a creditor but I’m wondering if my ex spouse’s contribution can be garnished? As far as I know, the debt collector is only aware of the SSD. With all my medical expenses and the cost of raising a teenage boy on my own, I am desperate to get some relief. I’m weary of the constant dunning letters and phone calls. I’ve talked to a person at the debt collection agency, and she was sympathetic with my plight. She also said she knows she cannot garnish my SSD. However, the firm has, indeed, obtained a judgement against me. Now what do I do? Thank you in advance for any advice you may have.

  6. Thomas says:

    Peter,

    You sent a letter dated 1/7/13 to my daughter about a judgment she received. We believe the debt was setled at the time 5 to 6 years age when she lived in the apartment. Not sure if we should fight it or not — did not retain much documentation from then and the major issue at hand is;

    My wife co-signed and our join checking account (direct deposited ) is frozzen and I cannot pay my bills !!!!

    Please advise what action i can take to resulve this issue —- If this is not worth fighting I will pay the debt off?

  7. Erin P says:

    I have called to ask for the paperwork on this for many yrs and they can not furnish them.. Now they r trying to garnish my wages I do not remember this loan nor any history of it… I would like the paper work from orig. Paper work says I need a attorney… Is this True

  8. Peter says:

    No debt is automatically time-barred. If the creditor sues you after the statute of limitations expires, you can raise that as a defense. However, if you do not raise it, the defense is waived and the creditor can take a judgment against you no mattter how old the debt is

  9. john says:

    I live in fl. I had a judgment against like 10 years
    Ago for a car I turned back in! Its not on my credit
    Report,I want to buy a house? Will this pop back up?
    ,

  10. Donald says:

    Hi Peter, On Saturday I received a letter in the Erie County Sherriffs envelope saying that they are going to attempt to garnish my wages due to a renege of a settlement I was paying . I paid $300. of a 743.00 settlement until I was hurt with concussion due to a mugging attempt, in which I didn’t have my Facilities to keep up with these pymts. My friend wasn’t able to send the payments for me. ( I told the representatives that I would be able to finish the payments to pay off this account) But they tell me more or less that they don’t care about my situation & I have to pay the non settlement amount of 1,600.00 to stop from wage garnishment ! I consider this just wrong I couldn’t help that I wasn’t able to finish these pymts. & now they add insult to injury. What should I do with non-cooperative Collectors ? You would think they would want to settle & not bury me . Thanks for any advice or assistance you can offer !!

  11. Holli says:

    I just recieved a letter from you about my debt . I am 21 years old, and so lost in this. I honestly need some professional advice/guidance . This stuff is seriously starting to scare me and I am way too young to be dealing with debt collectors calling me 8 times a day . Lesson learned, but I need some help to get me out of this mess. I will be calling you soon. Thanks for reaching out

  12. Sarah says:

    I have a judgement in 2008 from a Workers Comp case. I haven’t recieved any letters on this since 2008 at my old business address, but concerned because I don’t have the money to pay it. This is debt for a business I once had with a partner for $26,000.00 approx as the judgement consideration. I’m looking to get my life on track, want to know what should I do to eliminate this debt? Is there a statue of limitations with this kinda debt? I was advised when I did a chapter 7 bankrupcy to add in all debt, and that is what I did adding the workers comp too. I really need to talk to someone who can point me in the right direction. Thankyou

  13. walter says:

    I WAS BEING HARASSED BY CHASE FOR A LOAN I DID NOT OWE. I ACTUALLY MADE SEVERAL PAYMENTS BEFORE I STOPPED PAYING BECAUSE I REALIZED I WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LOAN. CHASE FINALLY SENT ME PAPERWORK TO CANCEL OUT THE LOAN, BUT I WAS NOT REFUNDED THE PAYMENTS MADE. CAN I SUE THEM FOR THE HARASSMENT AND A REFUND?

  14. Brenda says:

    My daughter received a summons to appear in court for back rent along with her roommate. They are no longer in the apartment. Does she need to go to court it is in another city, can she be represented by an attorney and what are her other options?

    • Peter says:

      That’s a tough question to answer. It’s generally not a good idea to ignore a summons, but if the action is in another state, then a judgment entered in that state would be tough to enforce in New York. A lawyer is not necessarily required to answer a summons, but is a good idea. A lawyer could probably get the case dismissed if you were served at an address you no longer lived at.

  15. Pam says:

    My husbands former employer is getting a judgement against my husband for insurance premiums they paid while he was on comp. He was hurt in Feb. 2016 and went back to work in Aug. 2018. There is an agreement in place to pay the money back. While he was employed there payments were taken from his paycheck. After he left I sent monthly payments. Their attorney kept sending letters that said we weren’t paying enough although they cashed every check, they wanted $405 a month. We never agreed on a specific amount per month. My husband also agree to pay them out of his comp settlement. He has not received this yet. We have no idea when this will happen. Is this judgement defendable?

    • Peter says:

      Pam, most claims have some type of defense that can be raised. Even if the defense is relatively weak, the mere filing of answer raises the expense for the plaintiff and can cause the plaintiff to be more flexible in negotiating. It certainly sounds like the former employer here is taking a mean position, and there is no requirement that this settlement you mention be in writing to be raised as a defense. However, if the plaintiff already has the judgment, it is too late most likely to raise the defense you have mentioned. I suggest you set up an appointment so I can get more detail about this and give you more precise advice.

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