It is not yet clear whether the courts are now accepting new cases for filing in debt collection or not, but some people are contacting me with cases they have recently received. Are some law firms have cases previously filed served? Are service processors just finding people home now? Or are people just finding cases that have been dropped off in some way? I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know: if you get served and do not
answer a lawsuit in time, you will be “subject to default.” It could happen
without further notice. And this presents a huge risk for people in debt.
Let’s talk about what “default” is, first, then I’ll show
you why it’s such a risk now.
What Default Is
In litigation, a default judgment occurs when you don’t
respond to a suit within a certain amount of time. The judgment will normally
be for whatever was sought in the lawsuit. If this happens to you, you have “lost”
How Default Happens
Default is a two-step process, though often, but not always,
these two steps are collapsed into one. The first step is the “Order of
Default.” In that, the court finds that service of process occurred and was
proper to establish jurisdiction, and you failed to respond. It declares you
The second step is the “Judgment of Default,” in which the
court establishes the amount you owe and enters a judgment against you. At that
point the debt collector can begin to garnish wages or attach bank accounts
(take them). They don’t start collecting, in other words, till there’s a
The way defaults normally happen in most courts is you are
served and due to respond or show up in court on a specific date. THAT is your
NOTICE. And no other notice is required unless you do, in fact, respond in
court. The court doesn’t require plaintiffs to keep you informed after you
ignore service of suit.
Increased Risk During Corona Virus
Suppose you receive summons now of a lawsuit. You may, or
may not, even be able to file an answer. But probably are able to, even though
you won’t be required to go to court (as of now). If you do NOT file an answer,
you may not be entitled to any further notice of the suit at all. That would
mean, or could mean, that when the courts reopen, you are immediately liable to
have an order of default against you. It MAY even mean that there already IS
one, because the courts are in business even if they are closed to the public,
and they could be issuing default orders.
When they open again, the debt collector will seek and get a
default judgment without ever needing to tell you. Your first notice could be
from your employer telling you your check has been garnished. Or from bounced
checks coming back to you. During a time like this especially, but always
really, this is likely to be a life-threatening disaster.
What to Do
If you have been served a lawsuit, you should respond either
with a motion to dismiss or an answer. You cannot ignore the suit just because
the court is closed and you don’t have to, and cannot, go to court. In other
words, don’t treat this as a vacation. If you’re being sued, take defensive
measures immediately. Start defending yourself. As I have pointed out
elsewhere, this is actually a good time to do that, because the debt collectors
are not in a position to a lot of work on your case. Start defending, and they
may drop your case and look for easier pickings.
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Debt collectors tend to buy debts in large quantities (called “tranches”) at a cost that varies from 25 or even 50 cents or more per dollar of “nominal” debt owed (that is, how much the documents say you owe) all the way down to small fractions of a cent per dollar of nominal debt. The price depends on various risk factors, including the date of the debt, how many other people have owned the debt, and so on. As a general rule, the older the debt, and the more owners it has had, the less a debt collector pays for them.
Most of the debts tranches are sold at auction, so there is also a competitive factor, although considering the amount of debt that exists, this can’t be very significant. We have written extensively about the contracts that control the terms of these auctioned debt sales, because getting this contract can be extremely helpful in defending against a debt lawsuit. Members, See, Assignment Contracts, Holy Grail for Debt Defendants.
Most debt collectors bug the people who supposedly owe the money and collect as much as possible before bringing suit, but they can simply bring suit immediately. In any event, when they file lawsuits, they tend to file them “in bulk” often filing fifty or a hundred suits at a time in the same court.
Most of the people they sue do not fight back.
Because the price of the debts is often so low and so many people don’t respond to lawsuits against them and give up a default judgment, the debt collection business is mainly not designed to fight a determined opponent, and it rapidly becomes uneconomical for them to do so.
This gives ordinary debt defendants a tremendous advantage if they know how to defend themselves and where to focus their efforts. Our materials are designed to help you fight back intelligently, and our Three Weaknesses Report will show you where to focus your efforts in most cases against the debt collectors. You’ll have to do some work both to figure this out and to apply it to your case, but it will take much of the work out of your defense and give you a shortcut to victory.
The weaknesses debt collectors share all come from the carelessness that handling cases in bulk with an absolute minimum amount of individual time spent on them brings. There is very definitely a “factory mentality” among the debt collectors, and individual time is by far the most expensive part of the collection process for them.
This factory mentality pervades the process from top to bottom and infects sales of debts between the debt collectors. Remember, none of these weaknesses are “magical” or “secret.” They are simply the inevitable result of a process which focuses so much on bulk purchases and processes that rarely get tested by defendants. The debt collectors tolerate problems that can be fatal to their case in individual cases because most people don’t attack the problems.
No Adequate Bill of Sale or Chain of Title
We tell you specifically what to look for to know that the debt collector has this problem, but many debt collectors can’t seem to show an adequate bill of sale that proves they own the debt.
A related problem occurs when the debt has been sold more than once. In that situation adequate proof of every transfer is necessary. And when the debt has been sold more than once, the debt collector is almost never going to have what it needs to prove its right to sue you. The Report shows you what questions to ask in discovery to get proof of the problem, how to show it to the court, and give you case authority for the position you are going to take. The bottom line, though, is that the debt collector will often fail to prove actual ownership of the debt. Without that, it has no right to sue you.
Hearsay and the Business Records Exception
Debt buyers buy debts from other people who created and kept all the records of the debt. They almost never get what they would need to introduce these records in court properly. We explain the rule against hearsay in the report and show why the debt collectors’ efforts to avoid that rule not only should not work but actually probably amount to a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). We give you cases and arguments, and we show you how to get what you need to prove your case.
Debt collectors rarely bother to get the credit card contract or application for which they are suing you. They say they don’t have to, but…
We’ll show you why they usually do need to have that proof. Again, we give you the case law and show you how to find the debt collector’s weaknesses through discovery. And we also show you how to deal with the most common way debt collectors try to avoid the huge problem not having a contract can often bring: the “Account Stated” claim.
As we’ve said, almost all debt collection cases share these weaknesses, and you can usually kill their case with the information in this report. You will need to do some research to make it just right, and you will definitely need to understand the arguments, but this report will take you a long, long way towards beating any case brought by a debt collector.
Your Legal Leg Up
Your Legal Leg Up is dedicated to helping people defend themselves from debt lawsuits without having to hire a lawyer. Lawsuits have a number of points where specific action is called or, and we have products to help you deal with most of these situations. We also have memberships that give you access to more materials and better training, and also provide a regular opportunity to ask questions and get answers in real-time. You can use this time to find out what the debt collectors are trying to do and what you might do in response, and you can get guidance on the issues that matter and how to think about and address them.
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You may be reading this article because you are being sued. If so, the first question to address is whether or not you have been properly served with the suit. We have two ways of helping there. You can use our Case Evaluation product for a quick evaluation of the legal issues presented by your suit, which will include a discussion of the way you were given it, or “served.”
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If you are satisfied that you were properly served, you should consider our First Response Kit. It is designed to help you consider significant early issues and to commence the process of defending by answering the suit and beginning discovery. Of course we also believe that a gold litigation membership will help a lot at this stage and beyond, and not only will you get to ask unlimited questions about your own suit, you will also receive a discount on the price of any products you need
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How hard is it to defend yourself from the debt collectors?
You would think that wouldn’t be a very difficult question to answer, given that the business is largely automated and conducted by people who all want one thing: your money. And yet the answer can vary because all litigation is a fight, and how hard you will have to fight depends on a number of factors you can’t know ahead of time.
Still, with that said, the difficulty is mostly psychological. It can be scary at first, but if you do the things that need to be done one at a time, it isn’t that hard. And you have a great chance to win.
The first, most important factor in determining how hard it will be to fight the debt collectors is probably YOU.
I often say that debt collectors “aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer” when it comes to legal work. They could be, but they aren’t, because lawyering as a debt collector rarely requires legal expertise beyond a very basic level. For the most part, they file suits and collect judgments – it requires the expertise of a bully walking up and down a beach kicking sand in the face of people who don’t look like they’ll fight back.
The bully’s expertise is in choosing victims and scaring them, not in fighting them, and debt collectors are the same way. The first, most difficult, step is to get up and fight. It doesn’t take that much effort, but it’s the hardest thing you’ll do.
The Debt Collector
The next biggest question is what kind of debt collector do you have. Many of them have no interest in fighting the case at all. I don’t know what the percentage of debt collectors is who are like this, but it is surprising how many of them will drop the case if all you do is answer the petition. They don’t show up, and the court dismisses their case, just like that.
Most of them have more fight than that, but as I say, you’d be surprised by how many walk away as soon as you answer the petition. They’re only interested in the absolute easiest pickings, and when you answer, you aren’t that. They go away.
The others have some point to which they’ll go. It appears to me that lines typically get drawn near the following events:
You file counterclaim
You serve discovery
You pursue discovery
You file motion to compel
You file motion for summary judgment
You defend against their motion for summary judgment
You show up for trial
Each of these steps is one step further along, of course. What may not be so obvious is that each of these steps involves a decision on their part to spend money and time on your case. It isn’t the fact that time is passing, it’s that you’re making them spend money on your case.
Why is That?
When debt collectors purchase your debt, they do so at a small price, and they can file suit remarkably cheaply – that’s their business. By the time you’ve been served, they’ve “sunk” these costs of doing business into your case. Their goal is not to spend any more, but simply to pick up a default judgment and send it to the people who look for your money or try to harass you into paying it. Low wage earners. It works this way 80 – 90% of the time.
Every time you make the legal department take some action, though, you are making them pay high wage earners, and you are making them pay for something they didn’t expect to pay. AND you are making them pay something that wasn’t already a sunk cost. You are costing “extra.”
They don’t like this, and for good reason. A dollar spent chasing you is much, much less efficient than a dollar chasing the 80-90% who give up. And when they spend NEW money to chase you, they have to worry more about whether they’re going to be able to get the money out of you. It’s one thing to get a judgment, but a different thing to collect it. And they’re very aware of that difference.
Almost all debt collectors have a line beyond which they will not go. The sooner you make them think they’ll have to go past that line, the sooner they will drop the case.
Notice I haven’t even mentioned the possibility that you could win the case. They don’t worry about that much, but if you can make them worry about it, that will push all but a tiny fraction of them to the point where they drop your case. It’s not “weakness” on their part or laziness or any other bad quality. It’s business.
So that Brings us Back to you
The question is, how hard is it to make them go away? You will have to learn how to do things up to the point they give up. It might be just learning how to answer, and that is very, very easy. It might be putting discovery requests together or pursuing the steps leading to a motion to compel. It might be filing or defending against a motion or two.
No one of these things is all that hard, and you will have time to learn as you go. You’ve probably heard the saying, “inch by inch it’s a cinch.” Well, I don’t know about “cinch” once you get past the answer, but it’s all manageable, and in the greater scheme of things it isn’t hard at all. And it pays you very well, depending on how much they’re suing you for.
It Isn’t Hard
So after all, it isn’t hard. You will need to learn enough to defend yourself intelligently at each step. It takes some effort, but mostly it’s the psychological effort to realize that you CAN do this and that you DESERVE to win for yourself. The more you do, the more you will realize these things are true, so you don’t even have to start with much hope of winning.
Eventually you will learn what you need to know. When you do, you’ll know they’ll never be able to push you around again.
Your Legal Leg Up
Your Legal Leg Up is a website and business dedicated to helping people defend themselves from debt lawsuits without having to hire a lawyer. As you can see below, we have a number of products as well as memberships that should help you wherever you are in the process. In addition to that, our website is a resource for all. Many of the articles and materials are reserved for members, but many are available to everyone.
Our website is both a business and a public resource, and you can use it to find information on a wide variety of debt law-related topics. While many of our resources are restricted to members, of course, many more are free to the public. Please feel free to use it. Every page has a site search button in both the header and footer. It’s a little magnifying glass icon that looks like this:
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The videos on this page are part of our glossary and our efforts to make the public more aware of it. You will find a brief description of the videos and a link to the page on which they occur. Click here for the Glossary.
You may have heard of one of the magic-word fads going around lately, the “Accept for Value” response to bills. As you will see, it supposedly invokes certain very specific formulae to accomplish something that would seem to be impossible to anyone using common sense. As with most of the “magic word” fads, this one will get you in big trouble if you try it. Don’t.
I have had a chance to look at several accept for value videos and sites. They’re a little cagey, and it isn’t clear whether there is one main source and theory or whether there may be variations with slight differences. Often enough, of course, one person comes up with an idea, and then a lot of people copy it, adding bells and whistles both as sales gimmicks and also to differentiate themselves from the competition. That appears to be the case with the accept for value “movement.”
In any event, I’ll discuss them as if they’re one idea – if you encounter something a little different, look for the fundamental similarities and don’t get too hung up on specific words.
The Basic Idea behind “Acceptance for Value”
The idea behind “accepting for value” defies common sense. It appears to be based on a belief that everything is free – or “already paid for,” which is the same thing. Naturally, there’s a conspiracy keeping people from knowing this or from using their free resources, and the advocates of acceptance for value are the only ones who know the trick of how to do it. They say. It involves some special forms and formulas we’ll be discussing.
A Few Words of Commons Sense to Get us Started
Before getting deeply into the mechanics and theory of the “accept for value” idea, consider: if you were creating a law that you wanted to apply to everyone, would you write it in secret code that only a few people could understand?
Of course not. Now, not all laws are crystal clear (in fact, really none of them are), but they are designed to be known or knowable to everyone – because otherwise how could you expect people to obey them? And laws are meant to be obeyed, mostly. Whenever someone tells you there are “secret laws” or secret forms or language to use to obtain some publically available thing, you should instantly be deeply skeptical. It’s almost always a scam.
If everybody had an account, and the money was already there for everyone to get whatever they wanted, wouldn’t it make sense that politicians would LOVE to tell you about it? Some bad-guy bankers might not want it, since they couldn’t screw you out of money, but most politicians would love to tell you about it.
And if everything is free, why would the bad-guy bankers even want your money? If everything is free, what’s the point of being rich? This theory will only appeal to those who are so desperate they are willing to believe just about anything.
How to Accept for Value
Okay, let’s move on to the way acceptance for value is supposed to be done. To accept something for value, you apparently have to follow a specific formula:
On your bill, you write “Accepted for Value, Exempt from Levy.”
Then you sign and date it, and write “pay to the order of” your name in all capital letters, and put your Social Security number down twice – once with dashes, and once without.
In some variations, apparently you’re supposed to make some reference to the US Treasury or the IRS, a thing they very much do not appreciate, by the way – they’ve put out circulars referring to laws that make it illegal and calling the whole thing fraud.
It’s not clear whether anyone has ever gone to jail for trying the scheme, but it seems pretty risky to make any reference to government entities. Any suggestion that they will be the ones paying would be flirting with trouble for sure.
It would appear that the form used is intended to call to mind the form of a check, with your social security number being the account number. I believe one Youtuber said that was the idea, and that’s consistent with the main theory behind this idea, which is that when anyone is born, the government (or federal reserve, or whatever) creates a bank account in your name.
In some videos, they say to send the bill with the stuff written on it to some government agency, in some they don’t mention this, but regardless, when you do what you’re supposed to do, the debt is discharged. It’s paid by the government!
One Youtuber compared it to playing a game of Monopoly where each player starts off with a certain amount of money as part of the game. It’s automatically created and given to you when you join the game. Your using the magic formula is the way you access your game money.
Real Life is Not a Game of Monopoly
The problem is, this is not a game, and the real world does not work that way. You don’t start off with money, and things are not free.
When I make things for people to use, it takes effort, and I want to get paid for that effort. When you go to work, you want to get paid. Can you imagine the outrage you would feel if, at the end of the week, your boss simply handed you a slip saying that your work had been accepted for value?
A company doing that would soon be out of business.
If you start returning bills with “accepted for value” written on them instead of including payment, you may find yourself out of business as well. This is such basic common sense, and so plainly obvious, that it takes a lot of theory to gloss it over. And the accept for value idea has a lot of theory.
The problem is, the theory doesn’t work.
The “A4V” Theory
It all goes back, they say, to House Joint Resolution 192, June 5, 1933, Public Law 73-10, the law that “stole the people’s gold” – but made up for it by making everything free. As one person put it, “Your house is already paid for; your car is already paid for. You just don’t know it.”
The Gold Standard
Joint Resolution 192 goes back to the early 1920s and the aftermath of World War I. One thing about war is it is very expensive and tremendously destructive, right? Prior to World War I, most governments in the world were on a gold standard, meaning that if one country bought more stuff from another country, they settled the difference by paying gold.
During World War I, the governments ran out of gold, though, and started paying with their currencies. These, too, were theoretically backed by gold, and in 1920, if you wanted, you could go to the bank and exchange a dollar bill for a specific fraction of an ounce of gold. At the end of World War I, however, the governments owed large debts to businesses and other governments. They didn’t really want to pay them, of course, because who wants to pay a debt?
What governments can do about that is print more money.
If I owe you a dollar but have a good printing press, I can just print up a new dollar to give you. Costs me practically nothing, right?
Well, Germany did that in 1920 in order to pay some of the reparations it owed for World War I, and the value of a German mark went from maybe 2 per dollar to over a billion per dollar and that was just before they stopped counting. It was cheaper to burn paper money than it was to buy logs for heat.
That was pretty extreme, but all the governments of the world, just about, had some lesser variation of the problem, and they were all printing up money as fast as they could go.
The Gold Clauses
Creditors don’t like lending money that is worth a lot and getting back money (in debt repayment) that is worth much less, so they began putting what were called “gold clauses” in their contracts. These attached the amount of money being lent to a more objective standard, the price of gold (for example). So they might say, “in exchange for $25,000, which is currently the equivalent of 50 ounces of gold, borrower agrees to make 100 payments of the equivalent of ½ ounce of gold” (along with other terms, of course). That way, the lender would get back the same value it had lent.
In a way it was fair, right? To make you pay back the same value as you had borrowed? But the problem was that so many people, and governments, couldn’t do that. So they passed a series of laws forbidding that (called the “gold clause abrogation laws”). Some of the laws prohibited equating debts to amounts of gold and required that they be named only in the local legal tender; other laws made sure that payment could always be made in that legal tender and that nothing else could be required.
You might say it was a huge rip off because it allowed debtors to pay big debts with little value and prevented creditors from protecting themselves.
House Joint Resolution 192 was a gold clause.
Put another way, it was a “legal tender” law which made all debts payable with bank notes rather than gold, and required that they be denominated in dollars rather than expressed as something else. It also underlined the relatively new legal reality that “federal reserve notes” were legal tender (but that’s a story for a different day).
It was indeed a (good) break for people who owed money, and a very bad break for creditors
who knew about inflation and had taken steps to protect themselves from it.
But it didn’t make anything free for anybody.
The “Accept for Value” Fraud
The story behind the A4V idea is an interesting story about the way government manipulates money and favors one class over another. It’s also an interesting story of the ways the Constitution can develop in ways exactly opposite of the founders intended. But what it isn’t is a story of the government giving away stuff for free to YOU. That’s the fraud the acceptance for value people have added so they can sell it to you. Don’t fall for it, and be assured that no judge ever will.
Using the accepted for value argument will bring you only disaster and loss.
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Many debt defendants love the idea of affirmative defenses – they just sound stronger, don’t they? But in the law, they are specific things, and they are not better than general defenses. They’re just different. If you have an affirmative defense, that’s fine, and you probably wouldn’t want to ignore it. But general defenses are really the “bread and butter” of defense.
So what are these two types of defense?
General Defense or Denial
A general defense is one of two things. It CAN mean a general denial of every allegation in the petition. You’re saying, “prove it” to everything. Since the debt collector has the burden of proof, I would suggest you consider this if it is available to you. It’s easy, fast, and comprehensive. But of course your next move is on to discovery and the rest of defense.
Generically, a “general defense” is one where you deny an allegation. So, above, you could file a “general defense” which denies all paragraphs (if your jurisdiction allows this). Or normally you would simply deny all or most of the paragraphs of the plaintiff’s petition. Every denial is a “general defense” that leaves the burden of proof on the plaintiff.
Affirmative defenses are something else. They amount to a statement that, “even if what the plaintiff is true, I don’t owe because …”
One example of this might be a settlement – suppose you entered an agreement to pay and did pay the other side, but they sue you anyway. If so, your general denial will be to deny the allegations of the petition, but then you’ll add an affirmative defense: On x day, the parties entered into settlement discussions and formed an agreement. Defendant fully performed this agreement on y day, paying z dollars for a “complete settlement of all claims.” See, attached (a copy of the agreement).
Thus, the facts that you have alleged amount to a complete defense to the action (known as “accord and satisfaction). And note that the facts are pleaded with “particularity” (in detail), and the defendant has the burden of proof of these things.
Other examples of affirmative defenses include collateral estoppel, res judicata, unclean hands, statute of limitations, and laches. There could be others. In each case the defendant would bear the burden of pleading the facts constituting the defense and proving them at trial. Since a general denial leaves the burden of proof on the plaintiff, they’re usually more important.
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Debt collection is a very big business in the U.S., with debt collectors feeding like vultures on the hardships of people having debt problems. They don’t care about you, they don’t care whether you owe or whether the amount they want is unfair – they only care about getting as much of your money as possible.
They need to be stopped.
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Courts as Cogs in the Debt Collection Machine
The debt collectors have been using the courts as part of their collection machine for many years. And they use the threat of lawsuits even more. This lets them scare millions of people into paying whatever they can, sacrificing whatever they must to do so. And it lets them use the machinery of the law whenever they get a judgment to start garnishing wages or seizing assets.
Unfortunately, the courts have allowed the debt collectors to get away with things they wouldn’t allow other litigants – things like filing claims without any real idea of whether the claims have merit, presenting obviously fraudulent and deceptive affidavits, and using clearly inadmissible evidence, to name a few things. But these are things that happen more often when people are not paying attention. They happen in debt law because nearly everybody getting sued by a debt collector gives up.
This needs to change.
How to Stop Them
I am not suggesting that you hide, drop out, or do anything radical. There are reasonable things you can do to protect yourself and what you have without turning your life upside down or inside out. The law doesn’t have to be your enemy in this… you can make it your friend, and we can help.
As I have often pointed out, debt collection is “assembly-line” or “factory” work. That is, debt collectors buy millions of accounts and feed them into a collection machine. The machine then writes letters, calls, and often sues you. Are there any humans involved in this process? Perhaps a few. The letters and signatures are probably all automated, and the phone dialers often are as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “person” calling you wasn’t actually a computer – if they aren’t doing that now, they could, and they soon will be.
And then there’s the lawsuit. Do you know they have software programs that draft entire lawsuits? The lawyers who go to court swear that they have seen the files, but I have my doubts about that. If you have ever asked a debt lawyer about one of his cases, you’d know what I mean – they have no clue. But of course that doesn’t stop them from claiming they have everything they need to win.
The debt collector’s approach is simple and fiendishly effective. They file a million lawsuits and collect 700,000 default judgments. They can’t find and serve some of the people they sue, and they let them go. Two hundred thousand people go to court to give up one way or the other, and you can see long lines of people waiting to ask the lawyer where to sign whatever the lawyer wants.
In perhaps 50,000 cases of a million, there is some defense. Most of the lawyers doing it simply look for a slightly better settlement number than the debt collector asked for in the petition. SOME of the lawyers know what’s going on and don’t settle at all. A few people defend themselves. Of these, many don’t really have an idea of what they’re doing and end up losing.
The Few, the Proud
A very few people represent themselves and do know what they’re doing. They learn a few rules and a few of the things they need to do… and start doing them. Almost all of these people win.
To put it in a nutshell, our goal at Your Legal Leg Up has been to put our members into this group.
Because the debt collectors are built for the factory work, most of the people who put up serious resistance, and who know what they’re doing, “fall through the cracks.” Quite often, the debt collectors simply drop the cases. In others, they pursue them a little bit. But the underlying economic reality is that it makes little sense for them to do that. They can buy a lot more cases and make a lot more money by getting the people who give up than by fighting any number of cases.
Fighting cases costs debt collectors money. If you fight long enough, they’ll be losing money on your case. We try to make that happen.
But we don’t try to make it happen with foolish claims or time-wasting strategies. That might not be such a good idea.
We understand that debt buyers, and companies suing on debt generally, have certain legal problems. They have a hard time getting or presenting some of the critical evidence. If you want to defend yourself, you need to know what they have and what they don’t have. And you need to know it before trial. The way you find out is through a process called “discovery.”
Debt collectors don’t want you to know what they have or don’t have. In addition, I think they just can’t help themselves – they’re going to object to everything you ask in discovery because that’s just what they do. We call it “stone-walling,” and it’s a favorite strategy that basically every debt collector uses every time. It makes preparing your case harder, but it gives you a legitimate reason to make them spend money, so it’s a two-edged sword.
If you can handle it. We help you handle it. Our materials tell you what you need to do, and they help you do it, too. Our teleconferences boost your confidence and energy, and they clear up doubts.
That’s why so many of our members win their cases. We help you know what you need to know and prove what you need to prove.
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Turning the Tide
I believe the debt collection process is bad for our country, and that it grinds the working and middle class into poverty. Thus I have argued it is a “social justice issue.”
And since we’re talking about social justice, this seems to be a good time to introduce myself. I’m Ken Gibert, and I was a lawyer for about fifteen years, starting as a “clerk” (assistant to judges) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for a year, and then several years as a civil rights lawyer, first as the associate of a prominent local attorney, then on my own. I practiced consumer law for several years, first putting a number of fraudulent businesses OUT of business, and then defending people being sued by debt lawyers. Then I left the practice and started Your Legal Leg Up.
I’ve marched for … well, if I haven’t marched for it there probably hasn’t been a march for it. I’ve been called lots of names, had rocks thrown at me and had my mind blown away (in a good way!) by some of the people I was marching with. I’ve hobnobbed with some real movers and shakers, run my own business, and made some mistakes, too.
Your Legal Leg Up has been in the business of helping people beat debt collectors since 2007. Twelve years as I speak. Obviously, we’ve been around for a long time. I’m proud of that and of all the people we’ve helped, but I’m a little impatient, too – it’s time to make some bigger changes.
And you probably know that I have created perhaps hundreds of videos and written thousands of pages on debt law in America. It’s safe to say I’m one of THE authorities on the subject.
Your Legal Leg Up has been in the business of helping people beat debt collectors since 2007. Twelve years as I speak. Obviously, we’ve been around for a long time. I’m proud of that and of all the people we’ve helped, but I’m a little impatient, too – it’s time to make some bigger changes.
The theme running through my whole life has been that people deserve opportunities. Given a chance, people can do some amazing things, from inventing things, to taking care of people, from building empires to raising children. People need a chance to do what they’re called to do. Thus I have fought against discrimination that prevented that, and I’ve fought against the people and businesses that seek to profit by taking unfair advantage of other people.
And right now, there may not be anything that seeks to profit more by taking advantage of people than the debt collectors. They need to be stopped.
Why I’m Telling You This
The reason I’m going into my own history and the issue of social injustice is that I want to expand our services so that we aren’t just helping people slip through the cracks of the debt factory.
I want to change it.
First, I want a LOT more people to get through the cracks, and that means dramatically increasing the reach of our services and the number of our members.
Then I want so many people to fight for themselves that they overrun the debt collection machine and the courts that serve them force them to change.
Consider the following.
On an average day in St. Louis County, a pretty average county in mid-America, there are between two and four courts that spend the first two hours of their day processing debt claims. In each of these courts, you’ll have approximately twenty to thirty lawyers – five or six for the debt collectors, five or ten for debt defendants, and others who are there for miscellaneous reasons. You’ll have 50-100 people milling around, and a court staff consisting of a deputy (security), judge, court clerk, and sometimes a secretary or two.
Over the next two hours, each of those courts will process between 100 and 500 debt cases. It’s a rare day with under a hundred judgments; it’s common to have far more than that. And they do this every single business day of the year. It’s a profit center for the court, which charges about $50 per case (note the volume discount! It would cost you more to file suit). So at the end of the day, the court has collected, say, $15,000, and the debt collectors have garnered 250 or more judgments.
Now I ask you a question, and the answer is going to be obvious: Do you think they could do that if people stood up for themselves?
A low-priority criminal case could easily take half a day. A high-profile case – civil or criminal – could take a week. Imagine what would happen to the courts if 200 debt cases took just half a day to process. It would take almost an entire year for the court to handle what it does now in two hours of one morning.
I’m not making these numbers up – this is what I saw day in and day out where I practiced.
It would take one day. Just one day, for the court to get nearly a year behind schedule, and if you think the judges are going to stand for that… well, none of the judges I’ve ever met seem likely to appreciate anything like that.
And what about the debt lawyers? They handle at least 50 cases each in an hour every morning. They get judgments of, say, approximately $250,000 in that hour five times per week. Imagine if they could only handle one case per morning and it took them four hours to do. That would reduce their judgments from $250,000 per hour to perhaps $1,000/hour. If they won.
And they wouldn’t win a lot of them because they don’t have what they need to win.
How long do you think they’d last at that rate? And it’s actually worse than that because if you were defending, the lawyers would have to spend hours with you – arguing about their ridiculous objections (which would probably stop pretty quickly), talking about the merits of the case, figuring out scheduling orders… the law can take time. When you fight.
The Debt Collection Companies
And then there’s the debt collection companies, which are designed to obtain minimal information from the creditor banks (and pay very little for it), not to pay for witnesses, not to spend money on anything other than a fraction of an hour of a lawyer’s time plus the costs of an automated collection system. Suddenly they’d need witnesses from the banks, documents, back-up staff, and all the rest of the things ordinary lawyers need and use for ordinary lawsuits. Their costs would absolutely skyrocket. Not ten times as much, a thousand times as much is what it would cost.
The whole debt collection system would come crashing to an end.
And the credit system that feeds the collection industry? That would have to change too.
You Don’t Have to Care about all that
I’m not saying you should join hands with me to end the debt collection industry that plagues the country and harasses innumerable people. I’m not suggesting anybody should march in the streets. I’m just explaining why you should join with us as a way to solve YOUR problem with the debt collectors. Because if you are being sued or harassed, you have a problem with them, and they want your money.
Our system will help you slip through the cracks of their factory… and if we get enough people fighting, you won’t have to slip through the cracks of the factory because it won’t be there anymore. The more people we get, the better off ALL of them will be.
That is my Mission
You don’t have to worry or care about the bigger picture. You’ve got plenty to do for yourself, and doing that instead of giving up will help you – and everybody. But I care about the bigger picture, and I want more people to join with us. That’s why I’m going to make the offer I’m preparing to make, and why I’m creating a special new kind of membership for the “fast-trackers” who are reading this.
Membership at Your Legal Leg Up
We have three levels of debt litigation memberships at Your Legal Leg Up right now: Gold, Platinum, and Diamond, and you can find out all about them here if you want. Let me tell you why we went to membership rather than just offering manuals or other one-time products that would help you know what you need to know.
To put it briefly, there’s a big difference between “knowing” and “doing.” Giving you lots and lots of information (as we do) won’t necessarily make you win your case. In order to win, you have to do things. You have to do the right things, consistently, and it’s a moving target because the company is also trying to win or make you give up. They stonewall you on discovery, making foolish, repetitive and numerous objections to everything you ask for. They file motions to dismiss your counterclaim, to get the judge to keep you from asking things, or to win the case outright. Sometimes they refuse to talk to you at all…
They have a lot of tricks, and beating them means staying on the job and pushing things the way you want them to go. It can be exhausting, confusing, and discouraging.
None of that is news to you if you’ve been in a case with them before. But what’s news is that we can help.
Our memberships exist to keep you from getting exhausted, confused or discouraged. To do this, we give our members a Litigation Manual to help orient them to the case and people involved, and this is not just a little pamphlet. It’s a book of about 250 pages plus links to materials on the website (you can read more about it here if you like). We also have our document bank that reduces the difficulty and confusion in creating or responding to routine things. And again, this is no little thing, consisting of hundreds of pages of materials prepared by lawyers in cases like yours (click here to find out more on our document bank). And we have teleconferences, where you can ask questions and get answers in real time, and a large collection of member-only articles and videos.
As a FastTrack member, you will get all of the benefits of Gold Members except one thing. Instead of two teleconferences per week, you’ll get two per month.
They normally pay $100 for an initiation fee, but you’ll only pay $50.
They normally pay $25 per month for membership dues, but you’ll only pay $15.
Is This a Good Deal?
Is this a good deal for you? I’m pretty sure it is, and I know for sure you won’t find another way to defend yourself that costs anything close to this. To decide whether it works for you, though, you need to look at two things: the lawsuit against you; and the price of a lawyer. There isn’t another program like ours at all, as far as I know.
The Lawsuit against you
One option for anybody being sued is just to give up. If you are “judgment proof,” meaning you have no money that a collector could get, this might make sense. More generally, you would want to look at the amount of money you’re being sued for and compare it to what our membership will cost. If you remain with us for a year, that’s going to be $205. If you stay with us for two years, it’s going to be $385.00.
And then you have to figure the value of your time, which is a little harder to do because you never know how long the debt collector will stay in it. If you have one lawsuit, I would guess you will between 10 and 50 hours. At $10/hour (remember it’s tax free), that’s $100 – $500 worth of your time.
If they’re suing you for under $500, you might not want to defend. Anything over that and you should strongly consider defending. Of course most debt cases are for much more than that these days, but some are not. You can figure out what you need to for yourself.
But what about hiring a lawyer instead?
What about a Lawyer?
If you’ve ever tried to get a lawyer, you will know that they charge a lot. How much? That varies quite a bit. Members have told me that $2,500 to start isn’t unusual. Some charge a flat fee, others hourly – and some seem to base the amount on the amount you’re being sued for. What you can bet is that any lawyer, anywhere, is going to try to make sure he gets paid at least $100 per hour, and often it will be much more than that. You’ll have to look around, but in most cases what the lawyers want is too close to the amount you’re being sued for to be worth it. Consider that just a motion to compel discovery could easily take 20 or 30 hours of attorney time to bring (for a lawyer who doesn’t handle a lot of these cases – much less for one who does). You’ll be paying at least $100 per hour for that time.
But there’s another problem that’s just as big.
It’s hard to find a good lawyer for debt cases
It isn’t that debt law is particularly difficult, and debt collectors aren’t particularly difficult opponents, but there are things you need to know that are just not obvious. The main example of this is that most lawsuits that most lawyers bring have been checked by the lawyer bringing suit, so although the case might be stronger or weaker, it’s usually at least got some validity. Almost all the cases most defendants see are pretty good cases. Thus it makes sense to talk from the very beginning about settling the case – and it makes sense to talk about settling for half or more than half of what the plaintiff is asking. Debt law is just the opposite. Almost none of the cases have any justification at all, and it rarely makes sense to talk about settling, especially not before doing some of the back-up work (discovery).
But lawyers don’t like to turn down work, and this means that there is all too good a chance that you will hire a lawyer who doesn’t know debt law at all.
You’d be much better off representing yourself than to have most lawyers who don’t know debt law.
Think it out for yourself – we know you can, since you’re reading this letter. Our conclusion is that using Your Legal Leg Up is the best deal out there. ByFar. In fact, we can’t guarantee results because there are too many unknowns, but we can guarantee that you will agree with us that our membership is a great deal.
It has to be. Because you can drop it at any time you want. And you can get your money back for up to two months if we aren’t everything you need.
In conclusion, if you’re being sued by a debt collector, you have an excellent chance of winning or of settling the case for a small fraction of what the debt collector is seeking.
With our help, you will probably win by “falling between the cracks” of their debt machine and making it unprofitable to sue you. If they pursue it, you will probably win. The more people who defend themselves, the easier it will be for you.
It does take some effort. You will learn a lot about the law and the courts. Most people find they enjoy it much more than they expected.
And it will change you. Standing up and defending yourself when everybody thinks you can’t is POWERFUL. It changes the way you see the world and yourself. It feels great. And of course it will keep the debt collector from taking things you’ve worked hard to get for yourself and your family.
Join us as a FastTrack Member. Win your case and change your world.
To join us as a FastTrack Member, hover the cursor over About Memberships on the main menu and then click on Register – click here – and choose FastTrack Membership.
When you do, you will receive:
Access to member-only areas of the site, including our document bank and articles and videos;
The Debt Defense Litigation Manual;
Our special report, Three Weaknesses Most Debt Collectors Have; and
Two teleconferences per month.
Do not worry if some of these things do not appear immediately! We will send you most of the materials by email and will make certain you are able to get into the site in a short time.
I’m looking forward to meeting you!
Remember: to join us as a FastTrack Member, hover the cursor over About Memberships on the main menu and then click on Register – or click here – and choose FastTrack Membership.