Have you received lawsuit paperwork from a creditor as a result of defaulting on a credit card payment or other type of loan?
First of all, don’t panic.
There’s a lot that can be done to take the teeth out of a creditor lawsuit.
Stay calm, but act quickly.
Once you’ve been served with the summons and complaint, you have 30 days to respond. That’s why it’s important to contact an experienced collection lawsuit defense attorney immediately. This is not an “ignore, and it will go away” situation.
If you don’t respond to the lawsuit, the court may enter a “default judgment” against you. This default judgment will allow your creditor to do things like seize your bank accounts and place a lien on your property. That’s why time is of the essence. I have successfully defended several clients against these large corporations.
There are several defenses against a debt collection lawsuit.
When a debt collector sues you, they become the “plaintiff” and have the burden of proving their case. There are several options available to us to poke holes in their case, such as:
1. They are missing crucial paperwork.
In a debt collection lawsuit, the creditor must have all the paperwork necessary to verify the agreement between you and the original creditor. In the case of a credit card debt, the paperwork could include the original cardmember agreement, copies of account statements, and payment records. If they can’t produce these documents, the case could end up getting dismissed.
2. They don’t have standing to sue you.
“Standing” is a legal test applied to all lawsuits. The entity bringing the lawsuit must prove that they have a legal interest in the case. For a debt collection lawsuit, they must be able to prove they own the debt. In order to prove this, they must produce purchase contract documents or be able to show legal “assignment” between the original creditor and the debt collector now attempting to sue you. If they don’t have these documents, or if they contain errors, their case becomes much weaker.
3. Inaccurate payment and billing history.
When debt buyers purchase debts from original creditors at pennies on the dollar, they purchase them “as is.” If the original creditor has failed to credit your payments properly, or if the new debt buyer doesn’t have up-to-date billing statements, they may not be able to prove that the debt is yours.
4. They have let the statute of limitations expire.
In Pennsylvania, creditors have four years from the date you defaulted on a debt to file a lawsuit. However, many unscrupulous creditors will file a frivolous lawsuit long past the four year statute of limitations and obtain a default judgment against unsuspecting defendants.
This is where knowledge of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure is critical, as any lawsuit filed beyond the four year statute of limitations can easily be dismissed by filing an Answer asserting the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense resulting in dismissal of the lawsuit.
5. Miscellaneous reasons you don’t owe the debt.
Maybe the credit card debt belongs to a family member or has previously been discharged in bankruptcy. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, that could also be a valid defense.
Don’t hesitate – get help today.
The best way to make sure your defense is rock-solid is to contact an experienced collection lawsuit defense attorney the moment you get those papers. It’s free to chat with me about your options – you can call or text me at 215.551.7109, or drop me a line.