Defend Yourself – No one Else Will

If you’re being sued, you’re going to have to defend yourself – there’s no magical solution, and you will lose if you ignore the suit. Please don’t think that just because you’ve never heard of this debt or don’t think you owe it for any reason, you will win. Once you’ve been served with a lawsuit, you will lose if you don’t take steps to win it. Nothing is automatic.

And the lawyer on the other side just wants to win as quickly as possible. He or she has very little interest in “doing the right thing.” It’s up to you to protect yourself.

If you are being sued for debt, you must defend yourself. What that means, very simply, is actually proving you don’t owe the money to anyone – or, more likely, that the plaintiff cannot prove you owe it to it. There are simple ways to do this (not necessarily easy), and our job is to help you use those methods.

Anything that promises or appears to be an easy or automatic way to win is probably a mistake or a scam.

No Free Lunches

There are other products out there for people being sued for debt, and some of them will encourage you to invoke magic words like “fractional reserve banking” or other concepts which, though legitimate in their place, will not drive the debt collectors out of your life.

Remember that there are no free lunches for regular people in this world. The judges are not concerned about the U.S. Money supply or system, and they are not concerned about any abstract rights of yours at all. You’ll be lucky if you have a judge who understands what hearsay is and doesn’t want to allow the debt collector to use it. Trust me on this. If this case reaches litigation, you must be prepared to understand the way debt law actually works, tell the judge how it works, and hold the judge to his or her job of making sure the trial is fair.

Luckily you can do all that. If you spend your time invoking the ghost of Andrew Jackson or fighting the monster of Jeckyl Island, claiming that the government sold you somewhere as part of the Social Security program, or other, similar ideas, you will lose the case. Debt collectors have a tough time proving what they must prove to be able to win. Don’t let your desire for a shortcut to victory make you lose.

You Can Beat the Debt Collector

(Even If You Couldn’t Win the Lawsuit!)

If you’re being sued, I’m sure you’re scared. Everyone is. But hear this: you have a very good chance to win the suit if you stand up for yourself. Believe it or not, if you know what you’re doing, the odds are actually stacked in your favor against a debt collector. And it isn’t that hard to learn what you need to know to take them on and beat them.

And even more important, if you stand up for yourself, you will probably beat the debt collector even if you couldn’t win the suit. Read on to see why this is true.

Some Very Basic Facts You Need To Know

If people would stand up for themselves, debt collectors would have a very hard time making any money. Lucky for them, most people don’t stand up for themselves.

The Debt Collector’s Problems

The debt collector will have a lot of problems if you stand up for yourself. They usually don’t have the records they need to prove their case even if you actually did owe the money. And more often than you might expect, you don’t owe them the money because of certain time limits or because they can’t prove they own the debt. They also have certain even bigger practical difficulties that you can use to protect yourself if you know how to find them.

FEAR-The Debt-Collector’s Best Friend

Because the debt collectors would have such a hard time winning if you fight back, they rely on the terror of the collection process to scare you into settling the case or giving up altogether. This fear of the legal process is the most important weapon the debt collectors have. If you can handle that, chances are you’ll get off scott-free. That’s why YourLegalLegUp litigation materials explain how the debt collection business operates from top to bottom.

You Have Almost Nothing To Lose

Strange as it may seem, now that you’ve been dragged into this suit, most of the bad has already happened. It costs very little to fight if you do it yourself. And if the company wins, they are going to get the same thing (in almost every case) whether you fight or not. In other words, it won’t get worse if you fight.

And if you fight and win, as I explain in the section about counterclaims, not only will you not owe them anything, but they may have to pay you.

In other words, you have basically nothing to lose by fighting and everything to win!

Why You Have a Chance to Win

You actually have a very good chance of winning the lawsuit filed against you- if you stand up for yourself. Look at the lawsuit filed against you-the “Petition” it’s usually called. It may look like it was done carelessly, and it probably was. But the paragraphs of the petition say the things the debt company would have to prove to the court-if you stand up for yourself.

They have to prove the existence of a “contract,” or some obligation for you to pay. They have to prove they own the right to sue you. And they have to prove the amount you owe. You might think they could easily do that, but in fact it is difficult if not impossible for them to prove these things.

Blaming Banks for the Problems they Caused

Has it occurred to you that all or most of your problems were caused by the very bank that is now suing you or that the debt collector purchased the debt from and is now suing you for? Some people argue that you could use that as a defense against their claims against you.

It will not.

Blaming the banks is a kind of “unclean hands” argument, and as far as I’m concerned, it is absolutely justified in a moral sense. The courts won’t see it that way, though.

Proximate Cause

The problem with arguing that “the banks” caused your problems is “proximate cause.” Proximate cause means the “specific problem” must be linked to specific actions by a specific entity. Viewed in that light, how can you argue that, say, Capital One, by extending credit cards and maintaining their policies, has really “caused” anything to happen in society? Many people may believe that the banks, collectively, caused big problems that resulted in raising taxes and sucking resources away from regular people, but how can you assign a specific role in that to Capital One?

Likewise, how do you prove that Capital One caused you problems that you could not have, and should not have, overcome? If we were truly in a capitalistic society the argument simply could not be made: the fact that you did not overcome the problem would be proof that you should not have done so. But we live in an age of bailouts and government interference, of course.

Tell that to the judge, a life-time public employee wielding far-reaching government power every day of his or her professional life.

And then the final zinger: how do you prove what specific action by your specific bank caused some specific injury to you?

Cigarette Litigation

This whole complex of proximate cause issues prevented anyone from winning cigarette litigation for decades. What finally allowed people to get through and win some of the cases was very strong evidence of conspiracy to hide specific facts that the companies knew and had a duty to disclose. There may be evidence of banking conspiracy – there is in some cases – but unlike a cigarette plaintiff who died of lung cancer, you will be hard pressed to show how your injury came from the banks’ action unless there are more specific grounds for applying the doctrine of unclean hands.

Cutting Edge Arguments and a Warning

As I say, I have my sympathies for the position that banks should not be permitted to profit from disasters they themselves caused. And many arguments that end up winning started out as sounding a little far-fetched. So you could consider it. On the other hand, the courts sometimes punish what they consider to be “frivolous” arguments and disputes. Arguments talking about banks and banking, like arguments claiming that our monetary system is completely corrupt live on the edge of “frivolousness” from the point of view of the courts. It would be possible that they could make you pay for taking that position.

 

Hidden Risks of DebtConsolidation

Debt consolidation is combining outstanding loans (debt) into a single package (consolidation). The debts therefore become one “new” loan. Instead of making several small payments on the loans you used to have, you make one payment on the new loan. Ideally, this payment will be smaller than the previous payments added together. Occasionally people ask whether debt consolidation is a good, economically constructive solution to credit card problems. Usually, the answer is that it is not. Certainly not as a solution all by itself. This article discusses some of the drawbacks of debt consolidation.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Debt consolidation is combining outstanding loans (debt) into a single package (consolidation). The debts therefore become one “new” loan, and instead of making several small payments on the loans you used to have, you make one larger payment on the new loan. Ideally and typically—and what has made debt consolidation loans popular as a home remedy for debt—the new loan is secured by some asset, often your home, and this allows you to obtain lower interest rates. Thus consolidation, in the  final analysis, is the conversion of debt that is not secured into debt that is secured by some real asset, in exchange for lower interest rates. It can reduce your monthly payments considerably, and of course that could be very helpful.

It also converts “old” loans into new loans, giving them a new statute of limitations (new life for loans that could be at or near their time of expiring). And it can even turn loans with short statutes of limitations into loans with long ones).

Why Doesn’t Debt Consolidation “Work?”

Economics

As a pure financial transaction, exchanging a lower interest rate for a security arrangement can be a very reasonable decision. Why then has it been such a disaster for so many people? Risk. Most people entering into complex financing are not able to assess risk and account for it, particularly when they are under economic pressure—which they usually are when they consider debt consolidation loans. Thus people systematically underestimate the risk that they won’t be able to make the payments on the new debt.

Additionally, since most people do not really want to go into debt in the first place, the existence of large credit card debt is indicative of other problems, either too little money or a tendency to overspend on unnecessary items. These issues are more likely to be made worse by the sudden reduction of economic pressure and the sudden, apparently greater amount of money or credit available to be spent.

The Hidden Legal Risks of Debt Consolidation

In addition to these “systemic” issues, there are two other main hidden costs of consolidation that should be considered: loss of flexibility, and the nature of secured debt versus unsecured debt.

Consolidated Loans are Less Flexible

When you have ten loans for different things, from automobiles to credit cards, you have flexibility if hard times strike. If you simply cannot make your payments, you can give up some, but not all, of the things you have purchased. You can let some, but not all of the credit cards go into default.

This is certainly not a happy thing, of course, but it raises the possibility of individualized debt negotiations, debt forgiveness, or even missed statutes of limitation. Again, these are not the choices and hopes of someone in flush economic conditions, but they are real options facing many people right now. In order for a debt collector to start garnishing your wages, it must find and sue you, must win, and then find your assets. It is an expensive and risky process for the debt collector if you fight. They sometimes drop the ball, and there are limits to how much of your wages can be garnished.

If everything else fails for you, you can declare bankruptcy, where homestead exemptions are likely to allow you to remain in your home.

The Nature of Secured Debt

The bigger risk of debt consolidation loans is the nature of secured, versus unsecured, debt. Remember that what powers the lower payments for consolidation is the existence of security—usually your home. Your home secures the debt, and that means that if you do not make your payments on the new debt, the lender can foreclose on your home and take it away. Foreclosures are generally “expedited” proceedings, meaning that your defenses are limited and the time for asserting them is restricted. In many states foreclosure is not even a judicial proceeding, although you have some legal rights you could assert in certain circumstances.

And what all that means is that instead of facing the prospect of years of battling over high-risk debts and questionable payoffs that could be trumped by bankruptcy or homestead exemptions, the banks can waltz into court and emerge in a very short time with your house. Put a little differently, your debt consolidation loan could make you homeless almost before you know it. And bankruptcy often, if not usually, will do nothing to protect you from it.

Anyone considering debt consolidation should think about these risks very carefully.

Easy Way Out of Debt

Is there a “Silver Bullet” to Debt Collectors?

In mythology, one of the few effective ways to kill magical creatures is with silver, and so a “silver bullet” is a semi-magical response to stop something bad. Is there a silver bullet approach to the debt collectors? Is there something you can do, with little effort, that will just make them go away? There seems to be a cottage industry of people selling that sort of easy one-size-fits-all solution.

The debt collectors make their living off that kind of thinking.

There are NO Free Lunches in this world, but you have a great chance

You have to stay away from magical thinking if you want to have a chance when the debt collectors sue you. Fortunately, theirs is a business that is set up like a factory, and if you put in a little effort, you can find and do the things that work. They do take some effort, and they won’t always win, but there are things that make you much more likely to win than to lose. And once they see you’re ready to stick to it, they may very well walk away from the whole thing.

After all, they make their money off people who don’t fight or don’t know what they’re doing. We help you do both, and your chance of winning is very, very good.

As we often say, around 90 percent of people being sued for debt do not defend themselves. Consider what that means: it means that it’s really more expensive for a debt collector to find out whether it has a good case against you – much less to build it and beat you in court if you fight  – than just to bring cases and dismiss them if things get tough. And that’s exactly what most debt collectors do. Therefore, rather than look for words to scare the debt collector away, it makes sense to build a tough defense that makes them work hard to try to beat you.

Do the things that give yourself a chance to win and the things that make it tough for them to beat you. Then you probably will win if they don’t walk away first.

 

What is Debt Settlement?

What Is Debt Settlement and Negotiation?

If you are being contacted by debt collectors for original creditors or debt buyers, there are things you can do to protect yourself. You may want to negotiate with them effectively so that you can pay them and minimize damage to your credit report or reduce the chance of their suing you, or you may just want to make them leave you alone.

Whatever you want, though, there are legal protections and tools you can use to move things forward and avoid hurting yourself in the future.

Know Who Is Trying to Get Your Money

It starts with knowing who is contacting you and what they want – and what they can or might do to you if they do not get it. Likewise, it is good to know what you can do to them, depending on how things develop. There’s an old saying that almost all lawsuits settle after negotiations, but that negotiations always occur “in the shadow of the law.” That is, what you will have to do after settlement has a lot to do with what they could make you do after trial. Thus there is a lot of information here designed for people suing and being sued – that’s how you know where the shadow of the law falls.

Credit card companies are different than other large companies or small businesses, and both are different than debt buyers. Talking to a bill collector inside an original creditor is different than talking to one outside the company, and it is yet another thing if you are contacted by someone on behalf of a debt buyer. It sometimes even makes a difference whether they call you first, or vice-versa. These are all important things to keep in mind. And there are many others. We have materials on the site that will help you understand how these things can affect your negotiations, and we have products that will make it easier for you to do what you need.

Debt Settlement – Not “One Size Fits All”

Many debt settlement companies attempt to force creditors to the negotiating tables by withholding payments. This is not always a good idea. There are also other alternatives, and we discuss some of those and ways you can act to minimize the damage to your credit report by negotiating with creditors, where possible, before that damage has occurred.

If you are negotiating, you will want to act in your strategic best interest, and our materials are designed to help you do that.

Conducting Discovery When Sued for Debt Part 1

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Conducting Discovery when Sued for Debt Part 2

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Three Questions and Answers about Discovery

When Does the Process Begin, What Is the Court’s Role, and How Do the Methods of Discovery Relate to One Another?

I get certain basic questions about the discovery process quite often.

  • When can you begin conducting discovery? And when can the debt collector do it?
  • How do interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admissions relate to one another?
  • And What is the Court’s involvement in the discovery process?

The answers aren’t always clear, but this article will answer these questions to the extent they can be answered.

When Does Discovery Begin?

The simplest answer to this question is no answer at all: Discovery begins when the Rules of Civil Procedure for your jurisdiction say it begins. I have discovered that the discovery process begins at very different times for different courts.

Federal Courts

In the federal courts, the defendant can serve discovery immediately upon being served with the summons, whereas the plaintiff must wait for some time before beginning the discovery process. I guess this is a way of allowing a defendant to focus on investigating the complaint and filing an answer.

Most State Courts

In most state courts, the parties can begin discovery at the same time, either immediately or after some period of time, usually thirty days after service. In debt law cases, though, I have rarely observed that debt collectors begin discovery as quickly as they could. My guess is that they are hoping everybody will default (and most defendants do), so it would be wasteful to start the discovery process before the time for default has passed. This gives a defendant an advantage to begin the discovery process before the debt collector does, and this advantage should not be allowed to slip away.

Some State Courts

In some state courts, most often courts of limited jurisdiction (i.e., for smaller amounts, as most debt cases are), the parties are not allowed to begin discovery without an order of the court that allows it. I think this is a terrible rule. But regardless of my opinion, you need to know if that’s the rule in your jurisdiction, and if it is you need to seek an order permitting discovery as quickly as possible. Remember that discovery is an important part of your defense. There is even one jurisdiction of which I am aware where no discovery is allowed at all. In this jurisdiction, though, you can seek a trial “de novo” if you are not happy with the result. That is, you can start the whole case over in a higher up court that does allow discovery. In Maryland, on the other hand, discovery begins immediately upon service of the suit – and ends about a month later – unless you receive permission from the court.

The important “take-away” from all this is that state laws vary, and you need to know your state’s law as soon as possible. Not finding this out is asking for trouble.

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Motions to Dismiss when Sued for Debt

Motions to dismiss are different from Motions for Summary Judgment Motions. They rely only on the pleadings. This video explains what a motion to dismiss is and how to deal with it if you’re pro se.

 

 

You Can Get A Motions to Dismiss Pack

One of the best defenses to a lawsuit is a motion to dismiss, and often you must file your motion to dismiss before filing an answer or you will lose important rights. On the other hand, the debt collector may well file a motion to dismiss your counterclaim or even affirmative defenses. This Motion to Dismiss Pack helps you file a motion if you need to – or defend against the motion if the plaintiff files on against you.

It contains

  • Instructions
  • Motions to Dismiss in Debt Cases Report
  • Sample Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Claims for Breach of Contract and Account Stated” in pdf and Open Office (Word compatible) formats
  • Sample Memo In Support of Motion to Dismiss in pdf and Open Office (Word-compatible) formats
  • Sample Memo in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims in pdf and Open Office (Word-compatible) formats
  • Basic instructions of legal research

These are the things you will need to attack the pleadings of the debt collector and begin your defense of the lawsuit. In many cases you need to do this before filing your Answer or you will lose certain important rights.