Worried about Debt Lawsuits?
Act Quickly and File an Answer if you are Sued!
As a general rule the law will NOT protect people that “sleep” on their rights. If you do not fight a lawsuit promptly – as soon as you do find out about it- you may end up legally bound to a debt, even one that you never owed in the first place, or you could be bound to pay a default judgment which you were totally unaware of at the time if was taken.
You can be sued whether or not you owe someone money. Worse yet, you can have a default judgment against you whether or not you have received proper notice. These types of default judgments happen all the time and you need to act quickly when you discover it. Whether someone is trying to sue you or as soon as you discover that a judgment has been secretly taken against you, a quick response is necessary. Defaults can be attacked by a motion to set aside but the time in which to challenge the default is limited in time.
It is your responsibility to be vigilant. Consumer advocates are noticing that there are a number of aggressive collection lawyers and unscrupulous bill collectors looking for easy cash and they may be trying to get it from you! Sometimes crooked process servers are signing false proofs of service and lie about serving someone with legal papers in order to take a sneaky default judgment without any notice. This fraud needs to be challenged as soon as discovered or it may be too late.
Just because you did not incur any debt does not mean that there will never be claims against you. Someone may have stolen your identity and incurred debt in your name. Even having a similar name to an actual debtor could mean you end up saddled with the debt unless you timely protest. Never just ignore correspondence from collectors, especially not legal papers. The law presumes a reasonable person will write back, disputing the debt, not ignoring it. You can actually incur a legal obligation just by ignoring bills that come to you out of the blue. So at a minimum write back, “I dispute this bill, I don’t owe this money” on any false statement you receive. And keep a copy. Without appropriate action, you could end up being held responsible for someone else’s debt.
Defenses are available. There are a number of valid legal defenses which may be available to you if you timely contest the debt. For example, even if you do owe some money to a creditor, the interest rate and charges could have ballooned unconscionably. Many debt buyers do not own the debt and do not have the necessary paperwork to prove their claim in court. Be aware all of your affirmative defenses need to be filed with your Answer. A Consumer Advocate like attorney Aurora Dawn Harris can help you understand your rights and defend you in court.
The debt buyer business is ugly and thriving in these tough economic times. For more information contact Attorney Harris at 661-771-2281. In the mean time, read this interesting article in the New York Times about the problems people are having with Debt Collection cases.