When you are behind on paying your bills, the creditor or a debt collector may threaten to file a collections lawsuit against you. In recent years creditors have become more aggressive about suing people over debts — even when it’s a debt you don’t actually owe.
It’s important that you never ignore a lawsuit. That only makes the situation worse and can result in your paycheck being garnished or other actions taken against you and your property to collect the debt.
Five Tips For Handling a Debt Lawsuit
If you are being sued for debt, you have options if you take the situation seriously and follow the five following tips:
Respond to the lawsuit. The absolute most important thing you must do when you are being sued for debt by a creditor is to respond to the complaint in court within 20 days of receiving the papers. Too many people think that if a lawsuit is invalid, they can ignore it and it will go away. In fact, the opposite is true. If you (or your attorney) do not file an answer with the court in time, a summary judgment will usually be made against you for the full amount of the claim. The creditor can then garnish your wages, freeze your assets, or even put a lien against your home to recover the money you may have never really owed in the first place.
Research the claim. After you have filed a response disputing the claim, do your research to find out exactly what evidence the creditor has against you. Look over the exact specifics of your agreement to determine if the suit even has grounds. According to judges, about 90 percent of debt lawsuits are flawed to the point that the creditor cannot even prove the debt. With those kind of percentages, you may have a chance at fighting the debt lawsuit.
Consult a consumer law attorney. Often, it is difficult to know where to start when it comes to these issues. That’s where a consumer law attorney can help. At a free preliminary consultation with one of our lawyers, we can look over the claim and give you an honest assessment of ways we may be able to help you fight the allegations.
Stand up for yourself. Don’t let the creditor bully you. You have rights as a consumer and you should exercise them. Just because you aren’t an expert does not mean that you’re wrong about a debt being invalid.
Consider other debt solutions. Sometimes a lawsuit like this is just a part of a greater pattern of falling behind on debts. To solve your financial problems in the long term, it may help to look at a broader course of action beyond just fighting the debt lawsuit. Sometimes bankruptcy or other options can get you a clean slate, and allow you to come out the other side debt-free. Talk to your lawyer about all of your options.
How a Cleveland Debt Lawyer Can Help
No matter what, a debt lawsuit does not have to ruin your life or your finances. You simply have to make sure you face the lawsuit head-on and fight the complaint with the help of an experienced consumer law attorney. Call us at Luftman, Heck and Associates today at (216) 586-6600 to find out how we may be able to help.