Receiving a summons for a debt collection lawsuit can be an extremely frightening ordeal. If you are facing a debt lawsuit, you are probably in a tight financial position, whether it is due to medical bills, your business, or for personal reasons. Many of our clients found themselves in a difficult position with debt collectors after the recent pandemic and resulting financial crash.
Debt collection agencies, banks, and creditors do not care about whether you are in a difficult situation or not. Their priority is getting the money that you owed back, regardless of what that means for you. If a collection agency or your credit card company is pursuing a debt collection lawsuit against you for money that you allegedly owe, you should seek legal representation from a debt collection attorney as soon as possible. Coming up against a debt collector without legal representation can be extremely difficult as they can be ruthless in their methods.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has been assisting Texan citizens with debt collection lawsuits, tax litigation, and judgment defense for over 26 years. He has the experience and skills necessary to help you come up against debt collectors and help ensure that you do not have to file for bankruptcy or be in financial distress because of a debt amount.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has won many awards for his hard work and dedication to clients and has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association. When it comes to your debt collection lawsuit, he can help push back debt collectors, fight on your behalf, and help get your debt settlement reduced substantially. He will fight tooth and nail to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get a fair result for your case.
How Should I Respond To a Debt Collection Lawsuit?
The most important thing to do when you receive a summons in the mail from a debt collector is to respond as soon as possible, which is usually within 20 or 30 days after the summons is sent. If you do not respond promptly, the debt collector or collection agency will get a default judgment issued against you. With a default judgment, you are exposed to a lot more risks and ways in which they can collect more money from you.
They may be able to take money from your bank account directly or engage in wage garnishment, which may result in you filing bankruptcy. In addition, the collection agency can add in extra costs with a default judgment, such as court costs, attorneys fees, and interest. When all of the additional costs are added on, you may have to pay substantially more than the original debt.
When responding to the debt collection lawsuit, it is important that you do not admit liability for the debt, and that your response is the proper legal form, which is known as an Answer. It is recommended that you hire an attorney to help you respond to a lawsuit, as they will ensure that you do not admit fault for the debt and that you follow the requirements necessary to ensure that your response is legally sound and cannot be ignored by the debt collector.
Hire a Collections Defense Attorney
If you are coming up against a debt collector or collection agency, it is strongly encouraged that you hire an experienced tax attorney to help you with your case. Firstly, trying to navigate the complexities of debt collection law can be quite difficult. Your attorney will be able to explain what the summons means, investigate your case, and try to get your debt reduced substantially or dismissed.
In addition to this, collection agencies typically have significant amounts of money and they will often do anything to ensure that you pay the debt you allegedly owe. This often means taking illegal action against borrowers or engaging in illegal activities to secure a debt. An attorney will assess whether an illegal action has been taken against you and if so, will petition the court to get your legal fees paid by the plaintiff.
How Do You Defend Against a Collection Agency?
To legally defend against a debt collector and protect your assets, you will need to challenge certain aspects of the lawsuit, which can include the amount you owe, whether there was a sufficient burden of proof, or whether the debt collector retained the right to sue you. If you have any affirmative defenses or counterclaims, you may be able to reduce the amount you owe to a debt collector or get them to drop the lawsuit.
Challenge The Companies Right to Sue
If a plaintiff brings a lawsuit against you for a debt, whether it is a credit card debt or medical bill debt, they must have the legal right to sue you. When a debt is owed for a long time, it is typically sold to another entity or has been sold to multiple different entities. As such, the debt collector that sues you for the debt must be able to prove legally that they have the right to do so.
These debt collection agencies are not required to prove this information if they are not challenged by the borrower. As such, if you do not respond to your summons out of fear or acceptance, the court will accept this as you admitting responsibility for the debt. However, if you question the debt collector on their right to sue you for a debt, they will be required to bring legal documentation proving this to a court.
The type of documentation that a debt collector will be required to prove in court will include:
- An original credit agreement signed by you
- Documentation demonstrating that the lawsuit came from the original creditor and that the paperwork is legit
If the collection agency cannot prove this information, the Judge will likely throw the case out as they do not have the legal right to sue you, or at least they cannot prove it.
Statute of Limitations
Texas’ statute of limitations for debt collectors is four years. This means that creditors have just four years from the last day you were active on your bank accounts to bring a lawsuit against you for any debt that you owe. The activity on an account could mean the last time you withdrew money from your bank account or made a payment with your credit card.
If a creditor sues you for debt that you owe outside of this time period, the claim will be invalid. As such, if you have an inactive account that you haven’t used in four years and you receive a lawsuit from your credit card company, it is important that you do not make a payment before speaking with a lawyer. By doing so, you may reactivate your account and set the clock back on the statute of limitations.
Burden of Proof
When it comes to debt collection suits, it is essential to remember that the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff, which may be the credit card companies, auto lenders, or other collection agencies. As such, when a creditor sues, they are required to prove:
- You owe a specific amount of money
- You are responsible for the debt
- They reserve the right to bring a suit against you
If a debt collector argues that you owe them a certain amount of money, it is important that they can prove clearly using documentation that you do owe them this amount of money. If they are unable to gather all of the documentation, for example, if they are unable to get bank statements from when your bank account opened until the last activity, they will be unable to win the suit against you.
Your lawyer should use this proof requirement to your advantage and ensure that they do not win their case with insufficient proof.
File a Countersuit
Debt collectors are required to abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when collecting funds from borrowers on behalf of creditors. However, in many cases, these collection agencies engage in unlawful activities, such as calling people outside of permitted hours and threatening to bring a lawsuit for debts outside of the statute of limitations.
In the event that they violate the FDCPA or similar consumer laws, your lawyer can help you bring a countersuit against them. If it can be proved that they broke laws when bringing a debt collection lawsuit against you, they could have to pay your legal fees and damages for you.
Although it is not the most desirable option for many people, it may be in your best interests to file for bankruptcy. If you have other debts or are dealing with other financial distress separate from the lawsuit, it may be quite difficult to set up a payment plan or try to negotiate a fair debt settlement with the creditors.
Once you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay will apply to your bank accounts. As a result, the collectors will have to stop pursuing you for the debt you owe until the bankruptcy is dealt with.
It is important to be aware of the negative consequences that come with filing for bankruptcy. You may find it quite difficult to get a loan in the future and you will see your financial credit severely affected. However, if it is the best decision for your situation, it can help you avoid the debt collection lawsuit you are facing. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced lawyer to get honest legal advice about your situation.
Legal Strategies to Defend Against Debt Collectors
When a debt collector sues a person for alleged money that they owe, it can be a frightening experience. Even if you think that you legally owe the debt and are required to pay, your attorney may be able to come up with a defense strategy, based on evidence, that prevents you from paying the debt. For example, your attorney could argue the following, based on the defense methods discussed above:
- There were errors or omissions in the paperwork
- Debt collectors broke the terms of the FDCPA
- Illegal credit agreement
- Improper summons
- The statute of limitations has expired
- You have already made the payment, or a payment arrangement is in place
- The charges are fraudulent
It is important that you speak with an experienced debt collection lawyer to figure out what type of legal strategy can be used in your case. They may be able to get the debt written off completely, or get it reduced substantially, which can help prevent you from going into financial distress.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC, Debt Collection Defense Lawyer
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has significant experience helping clients come up against debt collection agencies in Texas. He has been working for almost 30 years on tax, fraud, debt, bankruptcy, and audit cases. When it comes to debt collection, he has a deep understanding of the legal requirements of collectors, and he is happy to come up against them to prevent your legal rights from being violated.
When you hire him as your attorney, he will offer you honest, legal advice on your situation, investigate whether there have been any wrongdoings on behalf of the collection agency, determine what type of defense strategy can be used, and do everything in his power to get the debt reduced or the lawsuit thrown out.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC prioritizes the rights of taxpayers in Texas, and he is dedicated to fighting against debt collector agencies and defending the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Contact Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC Today!
Debt collectors and financial institutions can be ruthless in their methods to retrieve debts. In many cases, these agencies go to extreme measures to ensure that a debt is paid off, which can include threatening behavior and lies. Often, people feel like they have no choice but to pay off the debt and not take further action against the collectors.
However, by hiring legal representation and challenging collectors about their lawsuit and the evidence that they have against you, you may be able to negotiate a fair payment plan, get the debt reduced, or get the lawsuit thrown out altogether. You need to hire an attorney that has significant experience fighting against financial institutions and creditors, which is why you should hire Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC as your representative.
With over 26 years of hard work and dedication to defending the taxpayers of Texas, he is ready to take on your case and fight on your behalf. He understands how these companies behave to try and force you to pay them their debt, and he wants to advocate on your behalf.
Call today at 210-853-2135 to schedule a consultation with Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC.