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.
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.
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.