Forcing the Debt Collector to Cough Up Information
In order to defend yourself in a debt case, one of the first things you need to do is to start conducting discovery. That means, at your earliest chance, to serve interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admissions on the other side. 99 percent of the time, though, you’re going to get almost nothing back from your discovery but objections. They’ll object to every singe question you ask, and every now and then they’ll give you some of the documents you requested “subject to objection.” Like – what does that even mean?
What it all means is that they don’t have anything to support their case. Your job is to show that – to cut away all the nonsense and force them to admit just what they have and don’t have. That is your main, number one job as a pro se defendant in a debt case.
So how do you do it?
Motion to Compel
— Forcing the Debt Collector to Give You What You Need
Filing a good motion to compel is often a turning point that forces the debt collector to give up. This video tells you what to do and how. For a more extensive explanation and a product that takes most of the work out of it for you, get our Motion to Compel Discovery Pack.
The motion to compel process starts, of course, with discovery. If they answer at all, the debt collector will probably object to just about everything, piling up ridiculous and absurd objects to every single thing.
This is frustrating, but in a way it’s a great opportunity. Because the first thing you have to do – you’re required by rule in every jurisdiction I know – is you have to call the other side up and “negotiate and confer” with them to try to resolve the differences. This means you get to call up the attorney for the other side and talk. It’s free for you, and it costs them about $200 per hour (to pay the lawyer) – so why would you ever want to do anything else? Take your time, and go through each and every objection. Ask them why the objected, ask them for every basis of the objection, and make notes of their answers.
Remember, it’s costing them $200/hour to talk with you, but your job is to find out exactly what they’re saying and to try to get them to drop the nonsense. They won’t drop the nonsense.
Be sure to ask them what, if anything, they’re withholding as a result of their objections. If they say “nothing,” as in fact they often do, you make a note of that. You will confirm it by letter later. Find out what they’ve got, if anything. And usually it really isn’t anything at all. Make them admit it.
Then you send them a letter outlining what you asked, and what they said. If they said they didn’t have anything, be sure to say that. If you’re making arguments as to why they should hand stuff over that they actually do have, remember you’re writing the letter for the judge.
Take your time with this – it’s a massive job. But doing it right will drive them crazy, force you to learn your case and the important law, and move you a step closer to getting what you need to defend yourself.
And then you file the motion to compel.