What to Do if Sued

Sued for Debt

So You’re Being Sued for Debt

You have learned, one way or another, that you are being sued for a debt. If so, you are in a club containing many millions of people, but you probably feel all alone. What do you do? And how do you do it? Where do you turn, and who can help?

Since you’re here, you know that WE can help. We help people beat the debt collectors and protect what’s theirs.

Fight

We don’t make any bones about it – we think that if you’re sued by a debt collector you have a great chance of winning. And if you lose, it hardly ever costs you anything more than not fighting would have done. If you want to settle, you always start by fighting because debt collectors never settle to make YOUR life easier, they only settle make themselves more profit, and if you fight you instantly drive the value of the suit down in their eyes. Thus you have everything to gain and little to lose in most situations. You should fight.

Lawyer or Not?

We’ve addressed this question many times in various posts, and we do in our First Response Kit, too. But for this article we’re just going to talk about the cost of a lawyer. For most of our members, the cost of a lawyer is the most important thing, and they are expensive.

The average lawyer in a city tries to make $200 per hour these days. They’re running a business, have a staff, and need to make a profit. In debt defense, they also know that not everyone is able to pay. Thus, those who do pay, have to pay more.

With $200 per hour as a target, the lawyer either has to charge you that as an hourly rate or create a flat fee that will, she hopes, bring that average return. Through it all, most people discussing legal fees with us say that lawyers are trying to get them to pay at least $2,500 for their cases. For most people, this is simply too much, and the lawyer will want much of that up-front. So lawyers are simply out of reach for most people in debt trouble.

But here’s the thing: debt law, unlike most kinds of law, is well-suited to pro se (self-representation) defense. And with a little help from us, you’ll know more than most lawyers you talk to will know about this kind of law anyway.

Debt Law is Good for Pro Se Defense

There are a few reasons debt law is good for pro se defense. First, debt law is mostly about rules of evidence. They’re going to want to get some records into evidence, and you’re going to want to stop them from doing that. If you can keep those records out and avoid a few basic mistakes, you should win. This is not the kind of law that involves extensive testimony or cross-examination – you won’t need to be brilliant. You will need to do basic things that you can learn – we can teach you.

The other main reason debt law is good for self-representation is economic. They want to make $200 per hour, but you don’t have to get that much. And the debt collector/lawyer is trying to get that from half of what he can collect from you (the debt buyer gets the other half), while you’re saving 100 percent of what you can save. Thus you can spend more time on the case. It’s your life, and it matters more to you than anyone else. Every time you do something to defend yourself the lawyer on the other side will be worried about whether she’ll get paid for working on your case – this is a big, big advantage.

What to Do?

Your defense will start with an answer or a motion. Our First Response Kit will guide you through that. We also suggest that you get right onto the process of discovery, and the First Response Kit will do as much to help make that easy for you as possible. It includes samples of all the documents you’ll probably need. You’ll have to do SOME work for sure, but it doesn’t get any easier for you than this.

Our First Response Kit

A great place to start your defense is our First Response Kit. It helps you consider your chances of winning (vs. not fighting at all) and whether to fight, whether to get a lawyer, and if you’re going to represent yourself, how to do that. We get you started with a sample Answer and sample discovery that you can modify to fit your situation. This is as easy a way to get started with your defense as is possible. Read about it here.

Econ 101 or What Happens when the Bills Come Due

I believe it is a fundamental, unchanging law: there are no free lunches in life or nature. What gets bought must be paid for, eventually, by someone.Members at Your Legal Leg Up know very well that that law applies to daily personal purchasing decisions, and many have paid very steep prices indeed. But it also applies at the national and international level, and politicians who have long ignored the fact are soon going to be reminded of it.

As one economist puts it, in order for one person to get something for nothing, someone else must get nothing for something. So what happens to our current government debt of 21 trillion dollars (more or less, and growing rapidly) in a world of debt jubilee? Eventually it must be paid, right?

This is part of a series of articles on Occupy Wall Street, Debt Jubilee, and our future. Click on the links for the previous articles, but this article should stand on its own, also.

Debts Used to be Paid in Gold

Up until the 1930s, debts all the world round were settled, ultimately, in gold. A “dollar” was a fixed amount of gold, and for over a hundred years there had been essentially NO inflation. There had been occasional “runs” on banks that got overextended, and banks (and people with savings in them) got wiped out from time to time, and there had been occasional booms and busts. The Federal Reserve was put in to deal with those problems, and so it did. Thirteen years after its founding in 1914 the Great Depression began, and we’ve been on a boom and bust cycle ever since then.

But I digress.

Private Debts were Paid in Gold until the 1930s

The point is that Gold was first removed from actual circulation within the United State by Franklin Roosevelt and made illegal for persons to own. At the same time, the dollar was devalued (against gold on an international basis) by about thirty percent. International debts were still settled in gold until 1971.

So what does “settled in gold” even mean? When a businessperson in the U.S. buys a Japanese widget, he pays either dollars or yen. That is, either he sells dollars to buy yen, or the Japanese business ultimately does so. In any event, some dollars are transferred to Japan. Of course this happens in a gazillion ways and times throughout any given year, but in the final analysis one side is holding more of the other side’s currency. Mostly, that is allowed to persist, but at some point the side holding more of the other side’s currency may want to settle up in something else. Until 1971 foreigners could trade dollars for gold.

Dollar Window is Closed

Then there was the Vietnam war along with various U.S. policies that cost more than the government was taking in. That caused the dollar’s actual value to go down, but the official dollar value in gold stayed the same. That meant that gold was too “cheap,” and the French (in particular) decided to trade large amounts of dollars for gold. In 1971, the U.S. dollar was cut free of any specific relationship to gold and the government stopped giving foreigners gold for dollars.

At that point, the U.S. deficit was a few billion dollars and causing a lot of anxiety. Since then it has grown to 21 trillion (and adding, at current rates, another trillion or more per year) and causing very little anxiety. People on Social Security are hoping to get paid, and yet there are fewer and fewer workers to support them, so they are being paid out of taxes (or, realistically, government debt). The deficit is going to grow, inevitably.

Still No Free Lunches

What happens when the law against free lunches kicks in, finally? What happens when those trillions have to be paid? And what happens if, along the way, a lot of student loan and other debts are also wiped out by legislative act?

Right now, the dollar’s value is established by the free market (which isn’t to say it isn’t extremely manipulated). It’s worth what people all over the world say it’s worth without reference to any fixed point (gold, historically). When the law against free lunches kicks in, people will decide they would rather have things than dollars. They’ll say the dollar is worth less as they try to recuperate some of the resources they’ve been sending over in exchange for U.S. debt, in other words. This process has happened many times to various other countries. It is happening right now to Venezuela, whose inflation rate was, unofficially, approximately 1 million percent in 2018. It’s happening in Turkey right now. It happened in Germany, where one U.S. dollar was ultimately worth 4 trillion German marks in 1921.

Current Deficit is 21 Trillion Dollars and Growing

You can buy a lot of stuff for $21,000,000,000,000.00. If people try to buy stuff with that much money it’s going to cause prices to zoom higher. Many factors have held that result in check for the time being, but it will not last. If history is any guide, the change will be sudden and happen with incredible, bewildering speed. When adding straws to camel backs, one never knows which one will be the one that is too much. All that is certain is that currently over a trillion straws are being added every year. I think the one too much will happen within the next decade or two.

The havoc caused by currency destruction is almost unbelievable. Historically, it has meant the destruction of the middle class and all economic security. It has devastated the poor and led to widespread starvation and disease, and it has led to oppressive government and foreign wars. Without going into further details, I hope that the millennials will try to prevent it from happening. That’s going to mean some very tough choices.

As an aside to the reader, although I think the value of the dollar may, at the point foreseen, be among the least of your problems, it would probably be smart to try to keep it from being a problem at all. You should consider buying things of actual value no with whatever money you can afford. Talking about gold, silver, land, food… I’m not saying hoard cans of food like a survivalist. I’m saying it makes sense to recognize what seems to be coming our way and take rational steps to prepare where possible. There seems to be no telling when things will hit the fan, but that they will hit the fan is guaranteed by the law against free lunches.

Jurisdictional Issues in Debt Law

Kicking the Debt Collectors out of Court

– Jurisdictional Issues in Debt Law

 

 

Kicking the Debt Collectors out of Court

– Jurisdictional Issues in Debt Law

 

We discussed two kinds of jurisdictional issues in a recent teleconference – two different issues that call for very different responses.

In this video we’ll discuss what happens when the debt collector doesn’t show its ownership of the debt and when you are not properly served with the lawsuit.

Ownership of the Debt

When debt buyers bring a lawsuit, their ownership of the debt is always in question. It won’t be their  name on the debt instrument or contract,  and they will have purchased the debt – gotten it on “assignment.”

There is nothing wrong with that, let me emphasize. Most debts are freely transferrable (unless either a contract or law says they can’t be transferred) – so in most cases this will not be an issue. But what is an issue is proof of ownership. Only the true owner of a debt is permitted to bring a lawsuit. In a way that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? If I happen to hear that someone owes you money, I can’t sue them for it can I?
No – if I want to sue, I must prove that I am the “true party in interest.”

Without the true party in interest’s participation, the court  does not really have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. If I bring suit on a debt someone else owes you, and that person gets around to pointing out that I don’t own the debt,  the case should be dismissed immediately – without prejudice. If the person being sued does show that the plaintiff cannot prove ownership, the proper response by the court is to dismiss immediately without taking any other action – it can’t make a judgment about the validity of the debt without the real owner being present.

You can attack ownership of the debt at any time, and in a debt case you should always contest the issue not only because you might win, but also because  debt collectors actually try to collect debts that don’t belong to them fairly often. You should always make them prove it.

In the case of the big junk debt buyers, they often will have a so-called “bill of sale” between the original creditor and the junk debt buyer. It will say that the  creditor is selling and assigning umpteen million dollars worth of debts to the debt collector. It will mention an attachment with the numbers of the accounts sold.

And it will often not have that attachment or anything else linking your account to that sale. That is inadequate proof of ownership. It is no proof
of ownership. If you attack the case on that basis it should be dismissed – unless the debt collector can supply the information. For some reason,
they often cannot.

You can make this argument at any time.It isn’t waived by you participating in the case. Any time you can prove the debt ownership isn’t
established, the case should go away.

Sewer Service

Sewer service is different. In this situation, the process server threw the summons into the ditch while the defendant was watching and then swore to having given the summons to the defendant. In that situation, the defendant is forced into a choice: attack the court’s jurisdiction immediately by motion to quash, wait and attack jurisdiction, or defend. If you take actions to defend on the merits of the case – you say you don’t owe the money – you will likely be “waiving” or letting go your attack on the court’s jurisdiction.

Overcoming Default Judgments

As anybody familiar with my work knows, most debt cases end in either default or “give-up settlements,” where the person sued agrees to everything (or almost everything) the debt collector wants. It is one of the strangest things in all of law: most debt cases that are filed couldn’t be won if they were opposed; but very few people fight. So 90 percent of the unwinnable cases filed in debt are in fact won with the greatest of ease.

Strange.

So what is a default? It is first a court order, and often a judgment immediately or after a short delay, giving the plaintiff – the person who brought the suit – whatever they wanted. It happens when the defendant does not show up or defend himself or herself in court. Note that “default” is not the correct way to describe what happens if you DO show up and lose. The result of not showing up is usually a complete, automatic victory for the plaintiff, and that’s what we’re talking about.

The courts do not “favor” such an outcome. That’s because a case that is won because it wasn’t opposed is not a victory “on the merits” – there’s no real indication it’s fair, and as everybody knows in the debt context, it often is NOT fair. But what can the courts do?

If you have had a default against you, you may have a chance to get that changed. If you take steps, and if they think you weren’t playing games in the first place, they will often reverse the judgment. Then you go back to defending the lawsuit. If you get that far, you will probably win the suit – 90% of winning the case will be in getting the judgment vacated (removed). That will stop collection and start the case over – but if you’re willing to fight, and manage to get the default judgment vacated, you’ll find the rest of it pretty easy.

We have products that can help you do all that.

Making it Look Hard to Defend

Debt collectors make most of their money by scaring, or tricking, people into forfeiting their rights to defend themselves. That’s far, far cheaper and faster than actually litigating. So debt collectors spend a great deal of time and effort learning how to make people give up. They’re good at that, but if you fight back anyway, you have an excellent chance to win.

Remember that most of what debt collectors are doing with their petition is trying to scare you into giving up. They’re trying to make things scary and inconvenient for you so you won’t protect your rights. Here are some of their more common tricks and some things you can do about them.

One of the most common complaints I hear from people pursued by debt collections is that debt collectors have deceived them into not going to court.Then they get a default judgment and start collecting. Don’t let that happen to you!

Here’s how to spot this one coming– and what to do about it if it’s already happened to you.

The way it comes up is that the defendant (person being sued) receives the summons and petition only a relatively few days before the date given on the summons for showing up to court. The person being sued panics either because the date set is extremely inconvenient or because they do not have the resources to fight the suit regardless of which day is set for court.

They Trick You into Staying away from Court

So you call the debt collection law firm and asks to speak to the lawyer suing you. The lawyer will not speak to you (normally), and so you are forced to speak to some clerk, actually a skilled collection agent. The law firm then plays a “good cop, bad cop” routine, where the person speaking to you takes a message and agrees to get back to the defendant with the words of the lawyer. Or they play “tough but fair” and outright refuse to agree to move the court date.

They routinely move court dates for lawyers.

Either way, they want you to be maximally inconvenienced because they really, really, really don’t want you to show up or defend yourself! They say they will, however, agree to come to an “arrangement” that makes going to court “unnecessary.” Isn’t that nice

Then they either create an agreement and send it to you—or not. But if you think that going to court is unnecessary and don’t go, then the debt collector often “calls for default” (asks the court to give them a default judgment) whether you have an agreement or not.

But the agreement is usually a complete giving up anyway.

NO NO NO NO!

Don’t let this happen to you. If you can’t go to court on the date specified on the petition, think about filing an answer denying the allegations of their suit–and add a counterclaim for unfair debt collection by refusing to “move” (it’s called “continue”) the court date for you when they would do so for a lawyer.

Then you might file a “motion to continue” your court date with the court, telling it that you tried to work out the continuance with the other side but that it would not cooperate. Ask the court’s clerk for the “continuance date” and put that into your motion.

See, courts will almost ALWAYS continue a case if a lawyer asks for it. And if you file an answer first and then your request to continue, they’ll do it for you, too.

If the debt collector has already tricked you and gotten a default judgment, all is not lost. But you must act quickly. You should know that the law does not “favor” default judgments. This means that they lean against allowing them to stand if you make a decent argument against them.

The way you would do that would be to start with a motion to vacate the judgment.

 

Ending Debt Nightmare 1

Ending the Debt Nightmare

This is the first of a series of videos and reports designed to teach you about the debt collection process and litigation. You can find the second video of this series here.

 

Four Sneaky Tricks to Get You to Default

Four Sneaky Tricks by Debt Collectors to Get You to Default

Debt collectors make their money by scaring, or tricking, people into forfeiting their rights to defend themselves. Often they will let you think you have come to some sort of agreement with them to avoid court (and judgment), they won’t work with you to accommodate your schedule, and general try to intimidate and scare you into staying away from court. Here are some of their more common tricks. Check out the Debt Defense System and materials for things you can do if debt collectors try these on you.

 

 

Four Dirty Tricks and What to Do about Them

Debt collectors use many dirty tricks to try to scam, threaten, trick, or intimidate you into paying. This video goes into a few of those, and what you can do about them.

In this video, we discuss four tricks and point you to the sections of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act that makes them illegal.

It is illegal for the debt collector to threaten to take legal actions that it cannot legally do. This would include threats of imprisonment, public humiliation, or garnishment or seizure of your wages.

It is also illegal for them to communicate untrue information or, where you have disputed the debt, to report the debt without mentioning that you did dispute.

Sometimes debt collectors will pretend to be various types of authority figures – and sometimes they will send a collection letter that looks either like a lawsuit or a judgment or other information from a court. Any form of deception about who is sending the letter to you, whether that deception takes the form of an actual lie or simply deceptive looking information, would also violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you think the debt collector has violated the law, or if you need to defend yourself from a lawsuit, be sure to check out our Debt Defense System – it will give you what you need to understand what you are facing and the help you need to defend yourself effectively from the debt collectors.

Check out our Guide to Legal Research and Analysis

If You Are Already Being Sued

 

If you are already being sued, you probably should not sign up for the course and wait for anything. You need action now. You should be doing things to protect yourself NOW. You can beat them – it’s mostly a question of knowing what you need to do and doing that thing throughout the lawsuit, while at the same time not doing the things you should not do, until you either make them go away or win at trial. It sounds simple, and it is – if you know what you’re doing.  You can no those things with the Debt Defense System and get help doing the right things while avoiding the worng ones.

I have had a great deal of experience both as a litigator and web master and have realized that almost every person representing himself or herself in a debt case would do much better if (1) they have an opportunity, preferably on a regular basis, to talk to other people who can help them with insights and information; and (2) a lot of the work done for them. The Debt Defense System does that. When you buy the Debt Defense System, you will also get a membership which both allows you to use the full resources of Your Legal Leg Up’s website and participate in our weekly teleconferences where members speak to each other and Your Legal Leg Up’s staff.

Just think about how it will be, first when you walk away from the debt collectors who have been making your life miserable, and then as you move towards a life of greater freedom and happiness – free from debt, and free to build your future.

The Debt Defense System is a service designed to give you all the materials and support you will need to defend yourself from either the debt collectors or original creditors without having to hire a lawyer.

If You Are Not Already Being Sued

If you are not already being sued, and want to try to negotiate with the debt collectors or creditors to clear up your credit report or make sure they do not sue you, then you will want our Debt Negotiation System.

Not all negotiation and settlement happens in court, you know. It is possible to contact many creditors and debt collectors to work things out without a law suit. But – whether there is a lawsuit or not, all negotiations occur “within the shadow of the law.” That is, in order to negotiate effectively, you need to know what their rights are, and what your rights are, in the law. What can they do to you if you do not settle? And what can you do to them? Knowing the answers to these questions helps you handle the fear and uncertainty that haunts so many people as they try to get a grip on their financial lives. You can find the answers you need.

And after you find the answers that lie behind the debts, you still need to know what to say and how to say it. You’ll find plenty of help with that, too. You see, it makes a large difference who you’re talking to and where in the debt collection process you are. We do not offer empty formulas, but rather solid understanding of what they are after, what you might want or get… and a few suggestions about how to say things so you’ll get them.

Overcoming Default Judgments in Debt Cases

This is a companion to the video, “Procedure for Moving to Vacate Default Judgments.” This video explains why you should try to vacate (remove) a default judgment against you and generally how to go about doing it. The second video goes into a little more detail on that and tells you specifically what documents you will  need to file and what they should contain. If you have defaulted on a debt suit and want to try to reopen it (to prevent collection), check out our product: Motion to Vacate Pack. For a more comprehensive understanding of the debt law and defense, you need our Debt Defense System.

We categorize this video under “collection” because often the way people discover there’s been a default judgment is that there is some action to garnish wages or collect on the judgment. If that’s your situation, it isn’t too late. To prevent the collection/garnishment, you will need to get the judgment against you vacated (eliminated). And the very first step in doing that is finding out what happened. To do that, you will go to the court, look up the judgment, get the file on it, and look in the file to see what happened.

It gets a little more complicated than that after you find out what happened, but there are actions you can take, and our job is to help you figure out which and to do them.

 

motion to vacate

Getting Past Default Judgments and Defending Yourself from Debt

What is a default judgment and what should you do if a debt collector gets one against you? This video begins to answer those questions.

When a debt collector brings a suit, and a process server hands it to you or a “responsible” member of your household, you have been served and must take actions to defend yourself in court. If you don’t respond appropriately (by answer or motion to dismiss, for example – NOT by sending a request for verification!!), the debt collector will probably get a default judgment.

Most debt cases – perhaps as many as 80% – end in default judgments. Many people who ignore the suit then think the debt case had just, somehow, “gone away” are surprised to learn that the debt collector got a judgment and is now looking to garnish wages. And the way you find that out is not at all pleasant, because it generally happens after the debt collector has found where you work or bank and seized assets or started garnishing your wages. This massively disrupts most debtors’ budgets and puts them way behind.

It does happen, all too often, that defendants are NOT served, but the process server says they were. Then, the way these people find out they’ve been sued is that they get a notice of garnishment (somebody taking their bank account or part of their wages).

They Got a Default Judgment, Now What?

Regardless of how it came about, the first step in stopping the garnishment and fighting the debt lawsuit is to get the judgment against you vacated. And in order to do this, you must file a “Motion to Vacate.”

This video talks about that process and how you would go about vacating the judgment against you, stopping the garnishment (or not, if you’ve learned of the judgment in some other way).

This is a companion to the video, “Procedure for Moving to Vacate Default Judgments.” This video explains why you should try to vacate (remove) a default judgment against you and generally how to go about doing it. The second video goes into a little more detail on that and tells you specifically what documents you will  need to file and what they should contain. If you have defaulted on a debt suit and want to try to reopen it (to prevent collection), check out our product: Motion to Vacate Pack.

For much more help, you should consider joining. You can find out about that by clicking here or on “About Membership” in the menu above. If you know what you want, just click here.