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Tip 1 Uncommon Common Sense

Tip 1: Standing up for yourself isn’t hard – it’s just different

And it gets easier

You probably wouldn’t believe how often I get asked the question: “is it hard to defend yourself from the debt collectors?”

Or maybe you would.

If you’re being sued or harassed by a debt collector, one of the very first decisions you face is whether or not to defend yourself. And it is tempting to walk away, no doubt. So what you want to know is, how hard is it not to run away, but to stay and fight?

And luckily, it isn’t really hard.

One Step at a Time

I’ve started a lot of things in my time that if I’d had any idea how much work they would involve I probably never would have started in the first place. Fighting debt collectors is probably not going to be one of these things for you. But what makes it possible even to do the truly difficult things in life is simply to concentrate on the one step in front of you. As a debt defendant you will have a series of these steps. That’s what lawsuits are – a series of things to do, like steps. How many steps it will actually take, no one can say. What I can say, with certainty, is that if you are reasonably smart and willing to work a little bit, you can do every single step. One at a time.

Debt law isn’t rocket science.

You’re going to need to file an Answer or Motion to Dismiss. Could you do that if you set aside ten hours to do it? Yes. Using our litigation materials, it will take you half an hour to draft an answer, and you can do it yourself without our litigation materials in a somewhat longer time.

You’re going to need to draft “discovery,” which is the formal way you ask the other side what they have to use against you – what could hurt or help you. Could you do that? Yes, you could. Our materials make it relatively easy, but again you can do this on your own.

You may need to file or respond to a motion. Or more than one motion. Can you do it? Certainly you can.

And so it goes. You need to develop a broad strategic plan and then take a series of very manageable steps to get there. You may or may not need to take them all – again, only the debt collector really knows how far it will take things – but you can take every necessary step from being served with the suit through trial if necessary. Each step is relatively simple.

The Difficulty is in your Mind

What is “hard” about standing up for yourself is not the actual standing up or doing what needs to be done. What is hard is to do something different than you have done. Debt troubles are usually not an accident. They are usually the result of certain actions that you or someone took (or failed to take). They are often the result of certain habits. And these habits often accompany a habit of not “taking charge.”

Habits can be hard to break, but anyone can do it if they’re determined enough, right?

Standing up for yourself is “taking charge.” It’s just a different mind-set. Easy as pie – and hard as the devil! I won’t kid you – if you are going to defend yourself you must be willing to start to make the shift from “letting things happen to you” to “taking charge.” It isn’t “hard,” in the sense of physical labor or even intellectual challenge, but it does require paying attention to things you haven’t paid attention to before. And it requires looking at something you’d probably rather not look at, right?

It does require “growth.”

This growth is why people who do stand up for themselves and beat the debt collectors feel so good about doing it. Even more than the money, maybe, standing up for yourself and growing into that sort of person is deeply satisfying and – yes – liberating. You will never be sorry if you take on the debt collectors. Any work you do on it will be “good” work. You’ll know that right from the very beginning, and you’ll get to like it more and more, probably.

The difficulty is just in changing. It’s like stepping through a wall that isn’t really there. So if you’re going to do this, start today to look out for yourself. And watch for the next tip tomorrow.

Tip 2 Uncommon Common Sense

Tip 2: Always know the rules of the game you’re playing.

Every game has rules, and if you want to win, you need to know the rules of the game you’re playing. It is obvious, but when your head is spinning and you feel threatened – maybe nothing is all that obvious.

The legal game has rules too. In fact, the legal game may have more rules than any other game, and these rules definitely matter at every stage of the game. You have to know them – or know how to find them when you need them.

Rules of Civil Procedure

The overall, “starting” rules of the “civil litigation” game (which is what debt litigation is) are the Rules of Civil Procedure. Every jurisdiction (court) has them, and the rules in state courts, which is where you will be if you are being sued, can be different from state to state. If you are in federal court, it will always be the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. You can google “federal rules of civil procedure” for the federal rules, or “your state” plus “rules of civil procedure” to get the rules of your state.

If you are involved in the litigation process, you must have these rules. They tell you what can be done, and when it must be done. If the other side files a motion, the rules tell you how much time you have to respond, and if you file a motion it tells you what happens next as well as what belongs in the motion.

Local Rules

Many state courts, and all federal courts as far as I know, have “Local Rules” in addition to the Rules of Civil Procedure. These basically amount to an interpretation of the rules or set the standards for your particular court. A common one, for example, says that documents are “produced” when they are actually delivered to the other side (not just “made available.” You must know whether these rules exist for your court, and if so, what they are. Most courts have a physical copy of them available in the clerk’s office where you file things, and if they have a website, they should be online.

Rules of Evidence

The Rules of Evidence ane the other “most important rules.” These rules tell you what “counts” in court. They are obviously important for trial, but they also will determine what can be used in motions as well. They will be critical to your case. In addition, knowing these rules helps you evaluate your case and the other side’s case. Therefore, it is important to find and get them (you can google them as you would the rules of civil procedure, only using “rules of evidence” as your search term). In the very early stage of the case, however, you won’t need to spend a lot of time on them. Just have them ready. Our materials will tell you which of the dozens of rules of evidence will be most important to your case.

Other Rules

We’ve discussed the formal rules that control the case, and if you can establish what you want clearly enough within these rules, you will be okay. But there are other “rules” as well. There are rules of “custom” or “habit,” and there are social rules. A rule of custom or habit might be the way a specific court proceeds – for example, it is customary for a party bringing a motion to speak first to the court. The best way to observe these rules is, simply, observation. Not knowing them will not usually hurt you too much, except for the “social rules,” as I will discuss below.

Social Rules

Social rules are not really rules of court at all and do not play a formal part in your case at all. But they certainly exist. And here we are talking about the “rule” that says people with money or experience are given more respect and authority. This rule says that you should dress fairly well – but not so well that you look like someone “trying” to make an impression. And this rule says that lawyers, unfortunately, will carry more “believability” into court than you will. It is a good idea to observe your court before you must be in it, so you can get a sense of the way these rules work, because they do matter.

Regarding the “rule” that lawyers get more respect, the only thing you can do is prepare hard for everything that is going to happen and then stay as “cool” as possible when things are happening. Remember that, no matter what else happens, by being there and forcing the other side to be there, you are winning a battle even if the court rules against you.

If you do that, and if you know pretty well what you’re supposed to be doing at every step of the way, you can swing that respect factor in your direction. The fact is, if you read the materials from my site, and particularly the Debt Defense Manual, you will know more than most lawyers do about the debt law. Being able to use it may be a different story, but you will at least know more than almost everybody else the debt collector has ever dealt with – including opposing lawyers. That’s an advantage, and you can use it if you take care of the other parts of the process. The teleconferences will give you a HUGE advantage if you take advantage of them.

Conclusion

Every game is played by rules, both obvious rules and rules that are not so obvious. Knowing the rules in any given situation will give you a much better chance to win. You can get and know them, and you should.