Four Dangerous Myths

There are a lot of “unfortunate” or downright crazy ideas out there in the internet world. Too many, actually, for us to keep up with in terms of warning you specifically about each one. We would urge you to use your common sense in evaluating the things people say. Remember that the law is a practical system developed over hundreds of years to deal with practical problems. Remember, too, that the legal system is a sort of battlefield between the rich and the “masses” – to put it in currently political terms, between the 1% and the 99% – and that the 99% don’t win that many of the battles. That means you should be extremely skeptical of “shocking” or “secret” ways to beat the debt collectors (who are of the 1%).

Myths that Can Really Hurt People in Debt

You have tools at your disposal – they’re the basic tools of litigation. You have a very good chance to win if you will use those tools because of the way the system is designed and used. It’s designed to cause people to default and to profit quickly and easily from those who do and, by and large, to get rid of suits against people who do not default. That should make you doubly and triply suspicious of any system, by anybody, that might lead to your defaulting. Anything that makes you default plays right into the hands of the debt collectors.

With all that said, here are a few of the wilder ideas that I have seen lately:

“Strawman” Theory

 

“Sovereign Man” Theory

 

Rejecting Service of Process on any Basis

 

Other Dangerous Myths in Debt Defense and Negotiation

Because any negotiation is about persuasion, and persuasion can result from a mixture of things from threats, inducements, or simply friendliness, debt negotiation either before or during (or even after) litigation will include various arguments regarding legal rights as well as other things.

But not all arguments are equal.

For the most part, you want to make arguments that are reasonable. That isn’t to say that there aren’t times when sheer energy or aggressiveness (as discussed above in the section on personalities) will win – like playing a game of “chicken,” in which it’s just a question of which person is willing to be more reckless, but in general, business between creditors and debtors is not done that way. That is because, beyond a certain point, legal rights will control things, and in commercial law those legal rights are usually pretty clear.

In general, any actual belief (as opposed, for example, to a stated position taken purely for negotiation purposes) that there is some special or secret way “out” of debt that does not take into account economic and practical reality is a dangerous myth for people in debt. Our economic and legal systems were not created by geeks. They have developed over the past 800 years by people working for a living – or living off of the work of others – and a bunch of lawyers resolving literally millions of conflicts. Does it seem remotely likely, therefore, that something impractical and mystical will give you a magical “loophole” out of all your troubles? Not on your life.

With that in mind, let’s discuss a few of the loopy ideas that seem to have gotten some respect out there.

1. You Must Have a Contract with the Collector in Order to Have Debt

There are many people out there on the internet saying that there must be a “contract” in order for there to be a debt. In the first place, this is simply not a true statement of the law, as anybody with a speeding ticket can say. A contract is not necessary for a debt to exist.

In the second place, contracts can arise in many ways, not all of which involve documents signed by both parties, which is what the people talking about the “requirement” of a contract actually mean. A typical law school example of contract is a challenge: “if you lose 50 pounds, I’ll pay you $1,000” or some variation on this “if you do X then I will do Y” idea. Most of the time, these things do create a contract when either side does what the agreement calls for. (These are called “unilateral contracts.”)

What must happen for there to be a contract is for there to be an offer and an acceptance. Where both sides give up something or do something for one another (or say they will), and even something like losing weight or walking across a bridge in exchange for money or something else can satisfy that requirement, and the “contract” will be implied in the law. Using a credit card after receiving an offer certainly creates an obligation to repay – remember, the law was not created by nerds: it was created by business people to make business work. You may hear the phrase “meeting of the minds,” as a necessity for a contract, but this is not a literal necessity; it’s a question of reasonable interpretation.

And in the third place, contracts can be “transferred” or “assigned.” That simply means that, in general, the obligation to pay somebody can be sold or given away, and the person receiving it can collect on it. In reality, this sort of movement of debt obligations is largely responsible for our country’s prosperity (or addiction to consumerism, if you look at it that way), since this allows for the freer flow of money and goods to people who can use them. In any event, it is a fundamental part of our economic system. Do you seriously believe it could be toppled as easily as denying that money can be owed without an agreement between the suer and the sued? If you think so and act or negotiate based upon that belief, you will soon have a judgment to worry about in addition to everything else. Be realistic.

2. Debt is not Debt because Money is not Money

There has long been a theory that because the constitution said that money was to be gold or silver, and the Federal Reserve creates money out of a banking process that relies on debt to bring what we call money into existence, that debt is somehow not debt. This argument is made in many different ways. Some argue that because Federal Reserve Notes are created out of debt, they are somehow “paid off” as soon as you buy something. Others say that there is simply no such a thing as money any more, and therefore nobody owes anybody anything. We have also heard some weird argument about Social Security numbers creating automatic bank accounts, although how this would relate to a credit card debt isn’t clear.

However the argument is made (and we have some sympathy for the argument that the founders intended to and did put a gold and silver as money requirement into the constitution), it’s a pipe dream now. The Supreme Court has “read” the gold and silver requirement out of the constitution, and in any event the actual existence of debt does not require the existence of money. This whole argument about not owing anything for valuable things you have received is a fantasy. We believe that if you even state it as a position to your counterparty or the court, you will damage your credibility and seen as a flake.

3. There Must be a “Conflict” for the Court to Obtain Jurisdiction

Again, this is simply not so, as the argument is made, although it is true in theory.

The inventors of this idea seem to have taken it from the constitutional requirement that there be a “controversy” for a court to have jurisdiction. But the fact that a debt collector wants money that you do not pay (it doesn’t matter whether you “want” to or “refuse” to pay or not) is plenty enough controversy to establish that aspect of jurisdiction. Do you seriously think this hasn’t been addressed in 800 years of law? That it waited until the invention of Youtube for someone to figure this out? No.

This is another idea that will hurt you in the eyes of the counterparty. And to be specific, not only will the other person discount your words, but it is likely that he or she will believe you are weaker as an opponent. This means that taking this position makes litigation more likely, and you will lose that litigation if you take this position in the lawsuit.

4. You Must “Consent” to the Court’s Jurisdiction

One of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard recently is that you must somehow consent to the court’s jurisdiction over you in order for it to have power over you. Again, this is simply not so, as any captured bank robber could tell you. Jurisdiction does not depend on the agreement of the people trying to avoid their debts. One of the darling notions of democracy may be that people who are governed must “consent” to be governed, but this is hardly true in any literal way at all. In fact, jurisdiction depends on the power of the governing body. If you try not to pay debts and to keep the police from taking stuff when a court says they can, you will be put in jail. Consent to jurisdiction is implied by your having certain minimum contacts with it, and it is certainly not a matter to which you could revoke or deny that consent if sued.

Everybody actually knows this, it’s just that people create elaborate fantasies that they dress up and sell to people (sometimes themselves) who are desperate to avoid problems. If you are talking about or considering negotiating your debts, this is not you – you are attempting to solve, rather than avoid, your problems.

It is equally true that “refusing” the “benefits or burdens of the court’s jurisdiction,” whether you write it at a 45 degree angle or not (!) simply has no effect in the law other than to distract you and make it less likely that you will defend yourself. Don’t try to use any of these hare-brained schemes as negotiating points, as they will simply mark you as a loser in the eyes of your counterparty. Complete silence would probably be far better.

Start from Reality

If you are facing debt problems, pretending that there is some magical solution to them, some way to wave a wand or recite a few words and have the debts go away, is just dangerous thinking. If you follow any of the paths listed above, you will probably ignore the things that actually work and get yourself into a truly terrible place very quickly. Be realistic and practical. Don’t believe people who try to sell you moonshine. And above all, don’t try to sell this nonsense to the people trying to get money from you when you are negotiating. You will lose their respect if you do, and this will negatively affect your ability to make a deal.

You will find a lot of materials throughout this site that will help you develop a true and accurate understanding of your situation. You have some real advantages in your situation, whether you are negotiating or in a lawsuit. They want your money, and they have to follow some pretty tough rules if you make them. Our articles, videos and products are designed to help you do that. It doesn’t always sound easy – and it isn’t always easy – but it works if you will put in the work.


Debt Collectors Don’t Care

Debt collectors have one concern, and they only want one thing: your money. Beyond that, they don’t want to help you deal with your problems – they have no interest in those except as a way to persuade you to send them money.
And at least in most cases, professional debt collectors don’t much want to hurt you, either – although there are some sadists.
You’ll do better looking at them in the same way. You need to handle them in order to succeed, but you don’t get anything for trying to make them feel bad. In fact, that desire in itself might be a hook that lets them hurt you.

Debt collection is a social justice issue. But the first step in fighting it is to keep them from getting any of YOUR money.

Robo-signing and Automated Suits

How Debt Collectors Can File so Many Suits

Debt collectors frequently file lawsuits based on little more than a “computer tape” containing some very basic information about the alleged debtor and debt. A computer program files the suit. This means that if you are being sued, there’s a good chance you will win if you defend yourself. This article shows you some of the debt collectors’ weaknesses.

Automated Debt Collection Causing Suits without Merit to be Filed

As anyone who visits our site or reads any of our writings can attest, we often point out that debt collectors frequently file lawsuits based on little more than a digital file containing some very basic information about the alleged debtor and debt. The New York Times recently confirmed that essential insight in their article, “Automated Debt Collection.”

One Law Firm – 80,000 Law Suits per Year

In the article, the Times points to a firm named  Cohen & Slamowitz, a Woodbury, N.Y., firm that specializes in debt collection. The firm has been filing roughly 80,000 lawsuits a year.

With just 14 lawyers on staff, that works out to more than 5,700 cases per lawyer. That in turn works out to filing about two cases per hour, every hour of a 365 day year. Of course, this leaves the lawyers no time at all to do anything else on the suit.

Computer Software Files the Suits!

How is it possible? Cohen & Slamowitz relies on computer software to help prepare its cases, and the lawyers merely process the paperwork. As the Times article points out, typically, a debt buyer sends a law firm an electronic database that contains various data about consumers, including name, home address, the outstanding balance, the date of default and whether interest is still accruing on the account.

Once the data is obtained by a law firm, software like Collection-Master from a company called Commercial Legal Software can “take a file and run it through the entire legal system automatically,” including sending out collection letters, summonses and lawsuits, said Nicholas D. Arcaro, vice president for sales and marketing at the company. Although legal ethics requires a lawyer to perform an independent analysis to make reasonably certain a case is well-founded in law and fact, there is little time for such niceties when you’re filing two suits per hour every hour of the year.

Something Rotten in Denmark

The Federal Trade Commission has also weighed in, saying the system for resolving disputes over consumer debts was broken and in need of “significant reforms.” The agency urged states to adopt measures to make it more likely that consumers would show up in court to defend themselves; currently, most do not, resulting in default judgments. A court judgment gives debt buyers the ability to collect on the debt through actions like wage or property garnishment.

“We are pushing very hard to make certain that debt collectors have sufficient substantiation, particularly when a consumer challenges the debt,” said David Vladeck, director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Of course, this documentation does not exist in many cases.

This website provides people being sued for debt all the information they need to take action to protect themselves. If more people used it, they could probably force the debt collectors to change their business practices.

Debt Law – Law of the Jungle

I’ve had many customers and clients who were hampered by all sorts of beliefs—from guilt or doubt to a misguided sense of fair play—when it came to defending themselves from debt collection law suits. When it comes to litigation, though, remember that you are in a contest rather than a search for truth. It’s the “Law of the Jungle.”

I find that pro se litigants make two big mistakes. They think that the court will somehow look after them to make sure things are right and fair. And they believe that the normal rules of human decency and responsibility apply to litigation.

The Role of the Trial Court

There are two types of courts that relate to debt litigation: trial court and appeals courts. A trial court is a “court of justice,” meaning that there is, in the abstract at least, a search for justice at a trial. But you must bear in mind that the judge, even in trial court, is more like a referee than a participant. The court’s job is, very basically, to enforce the rules and maintain order in the courtroom. But unlike a referee, the judge only whistles fouls when asked to do so. The judge has very little inclination or responsibility to initiate a call—you have to ask for it either by objection or motion. The judge has very little responsibility to insure any sort of fair play in other than the broadest sense, and none at all to try to even out the balance of power between two parties to a lawsuit.

Just as the lion eats a careless gazelle without interference from the game warden, so debt collectors prey on the unwary defendants in court.

The Role of the Appeals Courts

And there is even less help from the courts of appeals, in general. Appellate courts are “courts of error,” meaning they review the decisions of the trial court and, on occasion, correct mistakes.

Life in the “Jungle”

Much of litigation is contested outside of the court and even out of the court’s attention. Most cases are won or lost during the discovery phase, where the parties ask each other for documents and other information. If one side is particularly uncooperative in this process, then the court can be asked to intervene through a “motion to compel,” but the court will never intervene without being asked—and shown why it should intervene.

Normal Rules of Behavior

Collection people talk a good game about paying what you owe or doing the right thing, but you should not be fooled. As I have pointed out many times, the Federal Trade Commission caught one debt collector it said made 80% of its money from people who never owed the debt, and collectors do not routinely check to see if their lawsuits are good or just or anything. They file them and win if they can without regard to what anybody actually owes. They often don’t know if you really owe them the money or not, and because the junk debt buyers buy and sell debt without informing you of their actions, you can’t know either without making them prove it in court.

All you have to do is defend yourself to see how very little most collection lawyers allow their behavior to be controlled by normal ideals of decency and cooperation. Don’t be fooled by their talk.

It Isn’t All Bad News

The inactivity of the court and impersonality of the debt collectors isn’t all bad news for someone being sued for debt. It does mean certain things, though. It means that informed action will work for you, while faith in the court system or other side to look out for you will not. It means you could be being sued for a debt you don’t owe even if you think you do. It means that the debt collectors will almost certainly test your resolve and willingness to fight by not cooperating with you during part or all of the discovery, and you must take decisive and vigorous action to enforce your rights. And it means that cooperating, being “reasonable” or easygoing, or any of the niceties of debate may not pay off for you. The debt collector (usually) doesn’t know or care whether you “really” owe it the money; they care whether or not they can make you pay it.

Counterclaims and Collateral Estoppel

How Counterclaims and Collateral Estoppel Protect You

The featured question this month is, “How do you keep the debt collector from just dropping the case and selling your debt to someone else?”

You probably know that I am a big believer in filing a counterclaim. Having a counterclaim gives you some very important control over the lawsuit itself and whether you get sued or harassed again by the same, or a different debt collector. In this article we’re going to review the reasons this is so important. In the “Life after Litigation” segment we discuss one very important way you can use a dismissal “with prejudice” to begin to repair your credit.

Plaintiff’s Right to Dismiss Case

In most jurisdictions (although not the federal courts), a plaintiff is free to dismiss a lawsuit “without prejudice” to its right to refile the suit later. In Missouri, that right extends all the way up until the jury is in place – possibly until the first evidence is presented. Up until that time, a plaintiff can go into the filing room, or hand to the judge, a dismissal – no explanation required, and nothing anybody can do about it. In federal court, at least, a party must request leave to dismiss, and the judges don’t like that kind of game. But the right is extensive anyway. However it happens, though, if the plaintiff drops the case without prejudice it is free to go back to phoning you, trashing your credit report, and eventually even suing you again. Or it could sell the debt to someone else who will do all that.

Collateral Estoppel

If you get the suit dismissed with prejudice, on the other hand, all that changes thanks to a doctrine called “collateral estoppel.” Collateral estoppel says that once a court has determined an issue between two parties, neither they, nor anyone “in privity” with them can ask the court to look at the issue again. And privity basically means that that another person’s right is derived from the person who was in court – that is, they bought the right one way or another. So getting a judgment of “with prejudice” effectively ends the cycle of selling your debt to people who will harass you.

How Counterclaims Help

A counterclaim is your key to making sure you can do this. As I have said before, this is so because while a plaintiff may be free to dismiss its own claim against you, it certainly cannot dismiss your claim against it. If a debt collector sues you, the lawyer is usually going to get paid a percentage of the take and handles the counterclaim as an “incidental” to the main litigation. (Even that might be an ethical violation, as lawyers are not allowed to defend cases on a “contingency” basis in any jurisdiction I know about, and handling a defense as an incidental raises the possibility that the lawyer might not get paid for defending the case if he loses the main case, but will get paid if he wins it – sounds like a contingency to me.)

In any event, if the debt collector drops the main case, then the lawyer is representing the debt collector for free. Except that we all know that there’s no free lunch, and if there is a long-term relationship between the collector and lawyer, that too could be regarded as a contingency. Or else the lawyer is stuck representing the debt collector for free – something no lawyer likes to do.

It also means that while the debt collector no longer stands to make a profit from the lawsuit, it does risk losing and getting a judgment against it for money. And it means it is wasting time and money on the case in general. What would you do in that situation, if you had a claim you were no longer interested in pursuing against a person who could defend herself?

Most likely you’d bargain, and most likely you’d offer the other side to dismiss with prejudice if they’d do the same. If you happen to be an aggressive defendant, and specially if you’ve already gotten a summary judgment of some sort, you might want to make them give you some money to sweeten the deal for you.

 

Sue the Debt Collector

Taking the Fight to the Debt Collector

There are a lot of reasons you might want to sue the debt collector. Doing so allows you to choose the time and court of the suit. Also, because debt collectors frequently sell the (your) debt, the one currently bugging you might not want or be prepared to sue you. Filing suit means you catch them unprepared, and they will be more likely to settle with you and cancel your debt.

It isn’t that hard to do if they’ve done something wrong. Of course, the trick is to catch them doing things wrong. We can help with that.

 

Identity Theft Affidavits – Part 2

Identity Theft Affidavits – Debt Collector Dirty Trick, Part 2

Sometimes debt collectors will attach an “identity theft affidavit” to their discovery and request that you fill it out and file it with authorities – or return it to the debt collector so that it can file with the authorities. I believe this practice violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and makes both the debt collector and its attorney liable to you under the Act. This is Part 2 of this article – for part one click here.

Attorney and Client Liability

In most situations the attorney representing a debt collector is, himself or herself, a debt collector in his own right. This is just a pragmatic reality – debt collection firms specialize so they can handle the huge number of cases they file cheaply. An action taken on behalf of a debt collector by a lawyer is also an action by a debt collector under ordinary principles of “agency,” where someone acting on someone else’s behalf takes on their character and authority. Similarly, the debt collector is responsible for the actions of its agents (lawyers) made in an attempt to collect the debt. Under most circumstances, therefore, you could sue them both.

Should You Sue them Both?

I have discussed whether or not to sue a collection attorney before, and my conclusion was that caution would be appropriate. Normally you can apply enough pressure to a debt collector to cause it to drop your suit (eventually) simply by counterclaiming against it. In this situation, however, my conclusion is weighted towards suing the lawyer, too. The practice is probably unethical on the part of the lawyer, and the threat that creates is substantial. Likewise, because of the extremity of the offense – involving deception and bullying in a way which seems to implicate the entire legal process – the threat to the lawyer and debt collector is more likely, in my opinion, to outweigh the disadvantages of getting the lawyer “more motivated.”

And of course the whole thing drives a conflict of interest wedge between the lawyer and debt collector, which should require them to have separate representation in your counterclaim. That multiplies their costs, of course, many times over. To some extent that’s true in any counterclaim based on some action undertaken by the lawyer, but in this situation I believe the deceptive action taken by the lawyer is so subversive and underhanded – so outright dastardly – that the argument for suing the lawyer (and the debt collector, too, of course) is much stronger than usual.

Verification Ignored

What to Do if They Don’t Verify

One Gold Member who is being sued by a debt collector told me he had sought verification and then, prior to providing it, the debt collector had filed suit against him. What would be the right step to take in that situation? Is the debt collector somehow “estopped” (prevented) from filing suit? Or what action should the debt defendant take?

Estoppel

It is clear that the debt collector should not be allowed to sue  you without responding to a verification request – one way to describe that is to say it should be “estopped” from doing so. Estoppel is not actually what you need here, though. For a description of the purpose and uses of estoppel, read Estoppel, Claim and Issue Preclusion. Here you need to move for “stay or dismissal,” or to “enjoin” them from continuing.  Moving for stay or dismissal is probably the way to go: You ask for verification, and they file suit without verifying, and you just move to dismiss on the grounds that the FDCPA does not permit further action until verification has occurred. You ask the court to “stay” (halt) the suit until verification has taken place, or to dismiss it altogether as an action prohibited by law.

This would be a motion to dismiss – best filed even before answering the petition, but it should be effective even if you’ve already answered since the FDCPA requires them to verify before taking further action. I have not seen cases addressing this point, but it would seem to be a substantive limitation on their right to sue. If, however, the court were to see the limitation as comparable to a statute of limitations, it might also rule that it could be waived by answering the petition. The argument against that is that such an interpretation would severely undermine the effectiveness of the statute, which is designed to help less sophisticated consumers and seem to encourage debt collectors to try to get away with violating the Act.

Another way you could consider is a suit to enjoin. The thing about a suit to enjoin is that it should be brought in a different court – preferably one of higher jurisdiction. So, for example, you could file a Suit to Enjoin in federal court asking the federal court to “enjoin” (prohibit) any further action in the state court. You could maybe do the same thing in a circuit court about an action brought in small claims court (although I’m not totally sure about this). If you live in one state and are sued on a debt in another one, you could file a suit to enjoin in your home state based on the argument that the FDCPA requires lawsuits to be brought in the home jurisdiction of the debtor. When a motion to dismiss is available, though, a suit to enjoin is probably more expensive and difficult than it’s worth. However – if the state is typically not granting such motions, you might go to federal court to get a fairer reading of the statute.

What If Your Motion to Dismiss is Denied?

If you file a motion to dismiss and the judge denies it, you have two options – or three, actually. You can  seek review (but not by way of appeal), you can move on and hope to appeal later, and/or you can file a counterclaim along with your Answer. I suggest immediate review, although this does have some challenges.

Filing a Writ

Every court is overseen or “reviewed” by some court. Sometimes small claims courts or “magistrate courts” are reviewed by a circuit court (court of full jurisdiction), but other times they are reviewed by courts of appeal – that’s something you need to find out very early in your case. Circuit courts are always reviewed by courts of appeal. If you file a motion to dismiss, and it gets denied, you would need to seek review of the ruling by the appropriate court. But in any event this will not be by “appeal” if the case is still going because cases are only appealed after they become “final.” Instead, you will file what, in Missouri, is called a “Writ of Prohibition.”

Writs of prohibition are designed to allow the court of appeals to review a ruling in the trial court before the case is final – because if you have to wait that long, the whole point of the ruling would be negated. You file a motion to dismiss, of course, because you do not want to have to litigate – but that obvious need would not ordinarily be enough to get the writ granted. In this case, however, the whole point of the FDCPA section requiring verification is to prevent the debt collector from being able to inflict the costs and risks of litigation on people where they haven’t verified the debt. Failing to dismiss the case for lack of having verified totally subverts that purpose of the statute.

Waiting and Appealing

As I point out above, if you wait and appeal, the whole point of the FDCPA rule will have been subverted – it is designed to spare courts and individuals the cost and time of litigation. If you wait to appeal the denial of your motion, you run an extreme risk, in my opinion, of the court of appeals deciding that there is nothing they can do to help you. By the time the case is appealed, the plaintiff will already have had to prove ownership of the debt – and that would certainly satisfy the requirements of verification. The appellate court would be extremely reluctant to negate all the work of the trial court on such a technicality – to force them to go back, have the debt collector “officially” verify the debt and then do it all over again. Your chance of getting the court to do that are almost zero.

If instead of filing a motion to dismiss in the state court you file a lawsuit to enjoin in the federal court, your only choice might be to seek appeal – but the court would be less likely to refuse to hear the appeal on the grounds that the other action had gone forward.

Filing a Counterclaim

Whether or not you seek to have the case dismissed or enjoined, you could bring a claim for damages under the FDCPA against the debt collector for violating the law. I believe this claim would be independent of your right to prevent the suit against you. You would be stating a claim under the FDCPA for an unfair debt collection practice as specifically designated by the Act. And this claim would be good even if you did manage to get the case against you dismissed.

Defending

Whatever your choice, you must be aware that if the debt collector files suit, nothing good will happen automatically. You must defend yourself. This means either moving to dismiss the suit or answering and pursuing your defenses.

Is Defending Yourself Hard?

Are Debt Collectors Hard to Beat?

Considering that I direct many of my marketing efforts towards people who are regular people and not necessarily doctors and lawyers, it is surprising how often I do not get asked the question: Is It Hard? Is it hard to represent yourself in court against the debt collectors?

Well, is it? Here’s a good lawyerly answer: “Yes…and no.”

Or maybe I should say, “No…and yes.”

I wouldn’t say (although I have heard others say it) that a trained monkey could be a lawyer. But anybody reading this could defend himself or herself in court in a debt collection case. This particular type of law is not that hard. And there are two main reasons for that: the law is relatively simple, and the actual cases are dominated by a few simple questions that do not involve subtle determinations of who is telling the truth.

Debt Law

The law regarding debt is ancient and well-established. Debt is as old as the law itself, and with very few variations, the law provides a remedy if the creditor can show that the money is owed. The law concerning debt collection and collectors, on the other hand, does involve slightly more complexity. But not much more, and the standard of behavior is generally considered from the point of view of an “unsophisticated” consumer. That means fewer loopholes and less arguing about whether the words spoken have some meaning that an average person wouldn’t know.

Debt Cases

And on the other hand, the facts in debt law are simple: can they provide the evidence in a form recognizable by the courts? Do they have the actual, original documents? And do they have people with actual knowledge of what they say and why? And often the debt collectors, because they purchased the debts from someone else, do not have these documents, and they never have the actual knowledge. So then the question becomes: can they find the people who do have that knowledge and get their testimony without the whole suit becoming unprofitable.

And the answer is that they usually cannot.

So debt cases generally involve simple questions of evidence. They are easy that way, and a non-lawyer has almost as good a chance at winning as a lawyer. So what’s hard about it?

The challenge to representing yourself is more psychological. Undoubtedly you have to be brave.

You have to be brave enough to tell yourself that you are worth defending even if you don’t have much, or any money. Brave enough to see that today’s financial disaster could give way to a much brighter tomorrow if you can stand up for yourself. Brave enough to see yourself in a new place, enjoying life

as you may not have done for a while. And brave enough to look at something that’s probably completely new and take the time to figure it out instead of panicking.

That does take some real courage.

But with a little help, a little guidance, and a little background information, anybody can do it. It’s only hard because it’s unfamiliar. But those who do it find that the world has changed more than they ever thought possible.