Defending Lawsuits Brought By Debt Collectors
If you have been sued by a debt collector, it can be scary. But you have rights, and there are things that you or your attorney can do to safeguard them.
There are some important things to keep in mind:
First, it’s a mistake to think a lawsuit is phony just because it doesn’t have a case number on it. Under Minnesota law, a lawsuit is started by formal delivery (“service”) to the person or company being sued. Only later (if ever) will the case be filed with the court and assigned a case number. (Minnesota is one of the only states that does it this way – don’t be mislead by what you read on the internet for other states.) So even if lawsuit paperwork doesn’t have a case number on it, the lawsuit is real and you have to deal with it. We’ve seen too many cases where the person being sued thought the lawsuit was phony because it didn’t have a case number, so they didn’t do anything about it until it was too late.
Second, if there’s some mistake – like they’re suing the wrong person, maybe someone with a similar name (we see this alarmingly often) – don’t assume the mistake will be discovered and the lawsuit will go away by itself. If they really are suing the wrong person, you should be able to beat the lawsuit – but it’s not automatic. You have to follow the procedures for standing up for your rights and pointing out any errors.
Even if you really owe the debt, you may have defenses to a debt collection lawsuit: the debt collector might have waited too long to sue you, they might be suing you for the wrong amount, or they might not be the company that holds the right to sue you. Debts often get passed from one debt collector to another, and their record keeping is notoriously sloppy, so the risk of confusion as to which company currently holds the right to collect from the consumer is real: we have defended cases where multiple companies simultaneously pursued our client for the same debt.
So if a debt collector sues you, you have the right to make them prove not only that the debt is yours, but also that the amount they are suing for is correct and that they are the company that holds the legal right to sue. (This is only a partial list of potential defenses.)
In all of these types of cases, deadlines are very important. If you wait too long to deal with a lawsuit against you, you may lose important rights, making it harder or impossible to beat the lawsuit later, even if you have rock solid defenses. If you fail to defend a lawsuit, they may be able to garnish your wages or your bank accounts, and your credit will likely be wrecked.
So if you’ve been sued, don’t delay: contact us for a free consultation about your rights.