How to Defend against Debt Collection
It’s hard to deal with debt while also suffering from the effects of a global pandemic. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by medical debt, tax debt, and credit card debt after COVID-19 has affected your livelihood. Debt collectors can add to the stresses of a pandemic world. If you need help with dealing with debt collection, consider getting help from an experienced debt defense attorney.
In this article, we’ll discuss what steps you have to take when you’re facing a debt collection agency. If you’re facing a lawsuit from your debt collectors, get in touch with our experienced Seattle debt defense attorneys at Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm
What to Do When Facing a Debt Collection Lawsuit
Check the Debt Collection Timeline
Debt collection is filled with deceptive and abusive tactics of people who want to make a quick buck off of vulnerable people in debt. If you’re facing legal action from debt collectors, you need to know how exactly it should go about.
Debt collection laws require collections to go through certain steps, which we list below. If what’s happening to you does not match what we list down, be wary as it may be a scam.
- Within 180 days after your debt is past due, you get a letter or a phone call as a notice of the debt collection.
- The debt collector sends you a debt validation letter within five days of contacting you. The letter should contain the following information:
- The name of the creditor;
- How much debt is owed; and
- How to dispute the debt.
- If you believe that you don’t owe the debt, it’s within your right to ask them for a letter of verification. They have 30 days from the date of the validation notice to send this letter.
- Once your debt has been verified, you have to respond to the debt collector. Take this time to decide how you want to deal with the debt. You have the following options:
- Negotiate the debt;
- Set up a payment plan; pr
- Pay it in full.
- If you decide not to settle or repay the debt, then the debt collectors can sue you. You’ll receive notification about when you’ll show up in court.
- If you do not appear in court at the date set, the court usually rules on the side of the collection agency.
- Once the debt collector wins the lawsuit, the court will order a default judgment against you. This usually entails a lien on your property or wage garnishment. This usually occurs within 20 days after the service of the lawsuit.
An attorney experienced in dealing with debt collectors will know how to tell a legitimate collector from a scam. Hire the services of our experienced debt defense attorneys in Seattle now to protect you from deceptive practices,
Once you’ve checked that your debt is indeed in collections, you have to respond to the lawsuit. It can be intimidating to have to deal with these along with everything stressful that’s going on in your life. However, ignoring it and hoping the collection calls stop will just bring you more harm. Missing a deadline can be detrimental to your case.
If you need help responding to a debt collection notice, it’s best to contact our Seattle debt defense attorneys.
Challenge the lawsuit
Usually, debt collection agencies are third-party entities hired by the original creditor. There are many reasons to challenge the lawsuits. Here is a shortlist of the common ones:
Reasons to Challenge a Debt Collection Lawsuit
The statute of limitations has passed
This statute prescribes the period of time that a debt collector can take legal action to collect your debt. Different states and types of debt have different time frames. Ask a debt attorney to know when the statute of limitations has passed for your case.
The amount of debt is wrong
Even if you do owe the debt, the amount that your collector claims you owe may be incorrect. This lets you challenge the lawsuit.
You’ve already paid off the debt in full
Sometimes, these debt buyers obtain incorrect payment information. You can be facing a lawsuit for a debt you’ve already dealt with.
They’re suing the incorrect person
It’s not uncommon to get served papers that are addressed to a different person. This happens when two people have the same name, be it two strangers or a Jr and Sr from the same family.
How to Challenge a Lawsuit
If you disagree with anything about your debt collection lawsuit, you can respond to the lawsuit in court. This gives you the chance to contest it or have it dismissed. If you want to dispute the lawsuit, you’ll have to bring evidence that gave you a reason to challenge or evidence of a violation of debt collection laws.
If Debt Collectors Violate Your Rights
Even if you’re swamped with debt, you still enjoy your legal rights. If a debt collector has violated your rights, show evidence of this in court. Check Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for more information. As examples, the following actions are violations under FDCPA:
- Making false claims, like a misrepresentation of how much you owe or who they are.
- Making contact with you if a lawyer already represents you.
- Deploying unfair practices such as depositing a post-dated check early or threatening to take your property when they do not have the right to do so.
- Engaging in harassment.
- Making contact with you outside the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM
The ability to challenge a lawsuit gives you the chance to gain a reprieve from your mounting debt. It’s important to have someone with you who’s knowledgeable in the area of debt defense. Contact our Seattle law office now to get the best legal help you can get in your team!
Decide whether to accept the judgment
There are many paths you can take when it comes to deciding whether to accept the debt collection lawsuit. We’ll discuss these below.
Find Out if You’re Exempt
There are certain categories of people with a certain amount of debt that can be exempt from having their paycheck garnished. Talk to a debt relief attorney for more information!
Hiring a Debt Defense lawyer
If you decide to accept the judgment in court, you need to hire an excellent attorney to win your lawsuit. An attorney that specializes in dealing with debt collection lawsuits in Washington may be your best chance to minimize your expenses.
Our Seattle debt collection attorney at Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm offers a free debt analysis so we can discuss your options and plan a solid defense for your case. Call us today for your best shot at winning the lawsuit!
Filing for bankruptcy
If your debt has become unmanageable, then filing bankruptcy is the best course of action.
Once you file for bankruptcy, the court places an automatic stay which stops any collection efforts on your debts, including preventing lawsuits and stopping collection calls.
You can file different types of bankruptcy from the US bankruptcy code, depending on your situation. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy lets you discharge your debts after your property is liquidated and sold for the benefit of your creditors. Filing for Chapter 13 lets you reorganize your debt into a repayment plan that lasts for 3-5 years.
Filing for bankruptcy has many pros and damaging cons. Consult with a skilled debt relief attorney to lay out your options for you.
Settling the debt
This is the best option for you to take if you want to accept the judgment but don’t want to go to court. A debtor can opt for a debt settlement if they want to have the lawsuit dropped.
Collection agencies are incentivized to accept a debt settlement since courtroom proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming for them as well. If you qualify for bankruptcy, you can leverage this to convince the debt collectors to settle.
If you want to settle your debt out of court, get the counsel of a debt lawyer to know what benefits you stand to gain from this option.
If you’re facing an overwhelming amount of debt, know that you’re not alone. 8 out of 10 Americans are in debt. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s possible to resolve your issues with debt.
Our professional debt defense attorneys have decades of experience dealing with debt collection lawsuits in Seattle. Aside from our Seattle office, we also serve the areas of Tacoma and Vancouver. If you’ve been sued by your creditors, call us now so we can defend your rights!
Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm
650 NE Holladay St, Suite 1640
Portland, OR 97232, United States
NW Debt Defense Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency. Where appropriate we file petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code solely for consumers in the District of Oregon. We represent both Oregon and Washington consumers in collections law suits in Oregon and Washington state courts.