How to build a debt collection defense against possible lawsuit

You might face a collection lawsuit when a creditor files a lawsuit with the court against you. A debt collection lawsuit can take time and can be expensive. Most creditors do not want to choose this option while collecting old debts. Creditors will always go for other available options.


In most cases, creditors prefer to repossess your assets like cars, home or other precious things. A debt collection lawsuit is rarely issued for debts under $1,000.


There are collection agencies that may aggressively threaten consumers to garnish employee wages to collect debts. However, the creditor or collection agency cannot garnish your wages without a proper court judgment. But still, debtors might face collection harassment from the very beginning of the collection process.


If a collection agency filed a lawsuit against you, do not panic and prepare your next steps to deal with this issue. You may follow the below-given strategies to create a debt collection defense and win a debt collection lawsuit.


1. Give proper response to the lawsuit


Being a consumer, if you do not respond to the debt collection notice, it will be a grave mistake. This notice normally comes as a summons and complaint. If you have debts and can’t pay it, the creditor may file a lawsuit as a last resort.


If you do not attend the summon, the collection agency might get a default judgment against you. Through this, they may be able to garnish your wages and get money from your bank account. As per the collection law in different states, the debt collector may even collect their attorney’s fees, court costs, or interest from your wages.

So, when the plaintiff (the creditor or collection agency) files a lawsuit, you can’t contact the plaintiff via Email or phone. You must reply to the lawsuit via legal briefs called an Answer . This is how you should do it:


  • Do not accept the debt at first glance. Ask the creditor to validate the debt first.
  • File your Answer with the clerk of court.
  • Get your stamped copy of the Answer from the court.
  • Send that stamped copy via certified mail to the plaintiff.

You should send your Answer within the stipulated time as per the lawsuit summons. The given time may vary from 20 to 30 days from the date on the notice. Do not miss the deadline at all. As per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), once a judgment is given, you can’t dispute the debt from that point on.


2. Challenge the debt lawsuit


You may challenge Plaintiff’s right to file a lawsuit against you. Collection agencies normally purchase your debts at a lower value from the creditors and get a transfer of the signed debt agreement. Through this, they establish the right to collect this debt and initiate collection harassment. But here is the catch. Normally 99.9% of debt cases are not properly transferred to the collection agency through a proper agreement signed by the creditor.


So, you may request the court to dismiss the case as the Plaintiff does not possess the “chain of custody” documents. If the court finds out that debt collectors do not have the required “chain of custody” documents, they may dismiss the case.


3. Check the statute of limitations


Sometimes, debt accounts may take too much time to get transferred from the original creditor to the collection agency. So, it will also take long to start the debt collection lawsuit process. Each state has a different statute of limitations for debts. That means in every state there are different times allotted to file a lawsuit. If the debt collector exceeds the statute of limitations period, the consumer may request the court to dismiss the lawsuit.


However, the statute of limitations clock may start again if you start making payments on an old debt.


4. Hire a good attorney


One of the best ways to create a debt collection defense is consulting a good attorney. He/she will help you choose the best options in defending against a debt collection lawsuit and raise any applicable defenses to the claim. You may get free consultations from many attorneys regarding your issue.


A good attorney may help you to:

  • Know if you have any options left and which one is the best.
  • Check if you are getting equal benefits compared to the legal costs.
  • Provide a helpful view of your case as a third party

If you have a strong case, your attorney may deal with your case without fees. It is because there might be a possibility that the court may order the creditor or collection agency to pay all legal fees including the fees of your attorney.


5. Take legal action against the plaintiff


If you have solid proof that your debt collector has violated the laws of debt collection, as per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you may be able to take strict legal actions against the debt collector. You may successfully sue them for violating the debt collections practices act and get statutory damage charges of $1,000, plus other monetary losses.


6. File a petition of bankruptcy


Devastated with the collection harassment, If you can’t pay off your debts and there’s nothing you can do to improve your financial situation, filing for bankruptcy might be the only option. When you file a petition of bankruptcy, it will initiate an automatic stay which will stop all debt collection activities from that moment.


You must talk to your lawyer first before choosing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you want to wait until you get a summons, just before the date of the hearing, your attorney might have to file an emergency bankruptcy petition to save you. But that would be more expensive.


Endnotes

There are multiple options to create a debt collection defense against possible lawsuits. Just remember that you should be honest with yourself and with your attorney. Only then your lawyer may help you to get yourself out of this misery. Good luck.

Amazing credit monitoring apps to boost your credit

If you want to build a strong, healthy credit score, it may require good financial habits, sheer focus, determination, and discipline. You need to do a lot of hard work such as pay your bills on time, reduce the overall debt burden, maintain a low debt-to-credit ratio, and lots of other requirements to maintain a good credit score.


The average FICO credit score of U.S. consumers is 695, as per the latest data from the FICO company. About 54.7% of Americans are able to score at least a 700.


Apart from following the practical steps to boost your credit score, you may find multiple credit monitoring apps on different app stores. You may use those apps on any mobile device, whether it is
Android
or iOS . And guess what!! Most of them are even free.


So, it only makes sense that people should use such apps to boost their score at any time. Some apps will help you to monitor your credit for the improvement.


Here are some of the credit monitoring apps that may help you to hold a grip on your credit and build your credit score in 2020.


1. Credit.com

This one is one of the best free credit monitoring apps that you may find. Most others may require you to pay money for a subscription. This mobile app helps you to access your entire credit profile, your credit score, and gives you an analytical view of your credit profile. You’ll see your current credit status, you may see how your score has changed, and why. By using this app you may use your credit information and few money-saving tips to boost your credit score.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.


2. myFICO

The myFICO app is free, but it requires an active myFICO account. It may cost you practically $20 per month or more, considering the subscribed features. With this app, you will be able to monitor your FICO credit score. It is the most widely used credit score and credit report. This app may also give you a FICO Score Simulator, which will give you a synopsis on how your score may be affected if you make wrong financial decisions.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface


3. Experian

The Experian credit monitoring app will allow you to track your Experian credit report and FICO score. You will get an automatically updated credit report every 30 days. The app also gives you the feature called “Experian Boost”, which will help you to boost your credit score. The app is free, but you need a paid Experian account to get a few special features. The app gives you alerts if your credit report or score changes. Through this app, you may get offers on credit cards based on your FICO score.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.


4. Lock & Alert from Equifax

Lock & Alert from Equifax EFX, +0.27% gives you the access to lock and unlock your Equifax credit report. This way you may protect your credit score from identity theft and fraud attacks. You’ll get an alert any time your account is locked or unlocked. A credit lock is not as secure as a credit freeze, but it may give you a level of protection and is quite easier for you to turn on and off


This app works only for your Equifax credit report; so to lock and unlock the other two reports, you’ll have to work with TransUnion TRU, +0.46%, and Experian EXPGY, +1.94% separately.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.


5. TransUnion

The TransUnion app gives you the power to refresh your credit score and credit report daily. It offers instant alerts for any changes and offers the Credit Lock Plus service. This service allows you to lock your TransUnion credit report, just like Lock & Alert from Equifax.


You may calculate your debt-to-income ratio through the Debt Analysis tool. It also allows you to view public records associated with your name. The app is free but credit monitoring service will require a subscribed, active account.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.


6. Credit Karma

Credit Karma app uses data from TransUnion and Equifax and calculates your FICO score. The app indicates different factors that affect your credit scores, such as credit card utilization and your payment history. This app provides an overview of the reports made by TransUnion and Equifax credit agencies.


You may also link your credit card accounts with this app and track your spending.


7. Mint

It is one of the best personal finance apps available in the market. Mint is a good choice for monitoring your credit score and staying on top of your finances.


Mint doesn’t require your credit card to show your credit score. You just need to verify your identity, and that’s it. Mint will generate a full explanation of your credit report with your score instantly.


MInt will break down the basics to your credit score and help you to increase it.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.


8. Self

The self app will help you to build and track your credit. It is a great app for people who are interested in establishing their credit profile or trying to improve credit. Self offer loans without any upfront payment. The loan tenure may last for 1 or 2 years. The amount will be deposited into a CD.


There is no hard inquiry to open the account, but your payments are reported to all three credit bureaus. When you repay your loan entirely, you will have access to free credit monitoring service and your VantageScore. This way you can track your progress.


The app is free, but it will require a self loan repayment of at least $25 a month.


#This app is available for both Apple and Android interface.