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.