You just got served with a collections lawsuit – What should you do?
So after months of phone calls and letters from the collection agency, you have finally been served with a Complaint by the Sheriff on that old credit card you took out years ago. You might be thinking it is hopeless for you to fight it and there will soon be a judgment against you. Do not give up so fast, there are plenty of tactics at your disposal. Use them.
For starters, who is to say the creditor suing you really has standing to sue you? They might allege they purchased the account from the original creditor, but they offered no proof of that in their complaint. If they offered no proof, maybe they have none. When you answer the collections lawsuit and show you will make them prove ownership of your account, maybe they will be unable to do so. Also, do you really owe exactly $6,521.87? That is just an allegation, and it may be double what you really owe. If you dont argue the amount now, you will not get to it later. Maybe you owed the debt at one point, but the statute of limitations has expired on the Plaintiffs time to file a Complaint.
Those are just some of the reasons why when you get served, it behooves you to answer within your 30 days allotted to respond. If you are not sure how to answer, contact an attorney. Even if you believe they would prevail in a court hearing, you might be able to settle the debt on favorable terms after you answer the lawsuit. Depending on which court you have been sued, there might not be a trial for months, so your answer can prevent an immediate garnishment of a paycheck or a bank account. If you are sued in Magistrate Court, then the hearing will happen within a month or two of your answer, but if you are served in State Court or Superior Court, there will be months of discovery prior to the hearing date. By answering and stating a reasonable basis of dispute for a hearing, you are preventing the Plaintiff from obtaining a judgment against you during the entire time of discovery.
If you have been served and do not answer, there will probably be a default judgment against you. You will have no defenses at that time, since you were validly served and declined to raise those defenses in the proper time. Do not let that happen to you.