According to the Federal Reserve, American household debt reached an all-time high of $14.6 trillion in 2021. It is completely normal and understandable to fall behind on bills and expenses from time to time. Unfortunately, that can lead to a collection lawsuit, leaving you with feelings of stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and fear. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding the lawsuit, and you don’t know what the outcome will be.
What is surprising is the number of people we speak with who aren’t aware that they can get help from a debt collection defense attorney. A debt lawsuit isn’t something you need to endure alone. The Chicago Consumer Law Center team is here to help guide you through this process. We can help alleviate your stress, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
What is a Debt Collection Lawsuit?
When a person falls behind on their bills, those lenders—usually a credit card or personal loan company, will usually do one of two things:
- They will try to collect the debt on their own and likely file a lawsuit if they can’t, or,
- They will sell the debt to a debt buyer, a company that buys defaulted debts for an average of 4 cents on the dollar. These debt buyers now own the debt and will either try to collect the debt or, like the creditor, will eventually sue you.
The creditors and debt collection companies file debt collection lawsuits to get a judgment from the court. With a judgment they can freeze bank accounts, garnish wages and put liens on property such as homes and cars.
Most people, about 90%, don’t show up in court and almost always have a default judgment entered against them. About 8% of people show up with the hopes of making a deal where lawyers try to intimidate or scare them into agreements that often include voluntarily agreeing to a judgment against them. Collection lawyers have had thousands, even tens of thousands of cases, they know every trick in the book. Often, they will try to scare or intimidate you into paying right away with the hope that you will not engage a consumer protection attorney. It is an unfortunate statistic, but debt collectors become successful by filing lawsuits and utilizing these intimidation tactics.
What Happens If A Debt Buyer Sues Me?
If you receive notice of a lawsuit against you filed by a debt collector or debt buyer, it is critical to call an experienced debt defense attorney. Often, these debt collection companies purchase such a significant amount of debt that all they receive is a spreadsheet of data with your name, phone number, and the amount of debt you owe. These companies have the burden of proving:
- They own your debt
- The debt amount is correct
- Your information in the lawsuit is correct
- The statute of limitations hasn’t passed
If the debt collection company can’t prove these things, there is a good chance the court can and will dismiss your lawsuit.
Does it Matter if Portfolio Recovery or a Law Firm Sent the Letter?
If a law firm sends the letter, the debt is now in the hands of the law firm, and you should seek competent counsel from a debt collection defense attorney. The collection law firm is trying to scare you into paying before they go through the time and expense of filing a lawsuit.
If Portfolio Recovery sent the letter, this implies they are using scare tactics to get you to settle the debt without fully understanding all the available options without paying the entire debt.
Why Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?
Suppose a creditor or debt collection agency sued you for a debt. In that case, it’s natural to investigate your options, especially if you’ve already been served with the lawsuit and you’re headed to court. We practice in Cook County, DuPage County, and Lake County and know how the collection law firms operate there.
Have you already received a lawsuit and court summons? You normally have only 30 days to file what’s called an Appearance letting the court know you’re going to defend yourself. Timing is of the essence; talk to an experienced consumer law attorney immediately to help guide you through the process.
Having an experienced debt defense attorney on your side to be your ally and advocate on your behalf is crucial to your success and peace of mind. Our team has seen every trick these companies have employed. For example, did you know that these companies cannot do the following?
- Call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you have given them permission to do so
- Cause your phone to ring for extended periods or make repeated phone calls
- Contact you at work after you told them not to
- Make false statements to collect the debt or misrepresent the amount you owe
- Make threats of harming your credit or wage garnishment
- Send collection letters that appear to be from a court or government office
- Threaten to arrest you if you do not pay the debt
- Threaten to take legal action against you if they don’t normally sue people
- Use obscene or profane language
Contact Chicago Consumer Law Center, P.C.
Our law firm has a track record of protecting consumer rights and explaining your options when dealing with a debt collection lawsuit. Although the earlier you contact us, the better, no matter where you are in the process, you deserve to know your rights and what to expect. Give us a call at (312) 883-8644 or complete our online form to schedule your free strategy session.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.