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Overview of Debt Litigation

The new 20:20 project –

New Year, New Kind of Membership

There are three videos in this series. Together, they describe the debt litigation process and almost everything you will encounter as you go through it. We have products for every situation, but these videos are more about the process than our products. Below the videos you will see more about a new product that brings all of our other materials together. If you prefer what we have previously offered, those things will still be available.

Part One

The debt and debt litigation industry.

Part 2

Debt Defense and why it can be so difficult

Part 3

Why Pro se works and how you can do it.

Here is the 20-20 Membership

We are introducing two new types of membership, the 20-20 and 20-20 plus. Right now, the difference is just how long they last, but it is likely that there will be some special content or materials for 2020+ before too long.

If you have watched the videos above, you know why we’re offering these products and why I think they’re a great deal. I will outline the new memberships briefly below.

First and mainly, the 20-20 membership will be a “pay-once” program. For a flat price you will receive all membership benefits for 12 months. This should get you all the way through to the end of any litigation you are involved in now. You won’t buy anything else from us or be charged again. Here’s what the 20-20 membership includes:

Teleconferences – currently we have them twice per week. Depending on need, that number could increase so that people regularly have an opportunity to ask questions in real time.

Access to member-only materials, including what used to be called the document bank. This gives you access to materials that have been created for a variety of different real-life situations as well as a large number of articles addressing the situations most debt litigants encounter. In other words, the 20-20 is a full membership, and you get everything members ever get.

Free access to all of our products. You won’t have to buy anything anymore. If you need a motion to compel pack, for example, you can download it for free. And that’s true of all of our materials that are currently for sale.

Specifically, that includes the Debt Defense Litigation Manual, the Three Weaknesses Almost every Debt Collector Has and how to Use them, materials on assignment contracts (not yet, but soon, a product), the Legal Research and Analysis report, and much more.

You can check the prices, but you’ll find that, added up, these materials and benefits would cost at least $1,000, so this is by far the lowest price we’ve ever offered. The 20-20 (regular) will cost $250 for 12 months, and the 20-20+ will cost $300 for 18 months. This membership should be available for sale as soon as December 27, and the prices will stay good through February 15.

Click here for a more detailed description and comparison of these new memberships to the other memberships.

Voidable Judgments – the Other Kind of Motion to Vacate

Voidable Judgments – the Other Kind of Motion to Vacate

For a free copy of this article in PDF form, click here: the other kind of motion to vacate

Most of the time when people talk about motions to vacate they’re talking about motions to vacate a default that occurred as a result of failure to respond to a properly served lawsuit. There is another kind of motion to vacate, though, for people where the court did not have proper jurisdiction. If that’s your situation, this is a better way.

A Quick Review

Once a lawsuit is properly served on a defendant, the court has “jurisdiction” (the power to address the claims made in the suit) at least provisionally. If a defendant fails to respond appropriately to such a suit, the plaintiff will probably get a default order and judgment. That is what happens in a large majority of debt cases.

An “appropriate” response that will prevent a default judgment is either:

  • An Answer, or
  • a motion to dismiss the suit.

It is also possible to file a motion “for more definite statement” in some states, as well. The point is, though, that every allegation in the petition must either be moved against or answered. If that happens, a default judgment should never be issued.

If you fail to answer and the court awards a default judgment, you can ask the court to give you another chance by asking it to “vacate” the default and allow you to defend the case. I discuss what this is, what the time limits are, and how to do it in several articles, see, e.g.,  Overcoming Default Judgments.

Voidable Judgments

But what if the court does NOT have or get proper jurisdiction over you?

This can happen in two common ways: the debt collector does not manage to serve you properly; or the debt collector sues you in a court that doesn’t have power over you (because you live somewhere else). Other ways are possible, but these are by far the most common.

If you find out that you are being sued in a court that lacks jurisdiction before judgment, you can move to dismiss the case on that basis, but that can defeat the whole purpose of the rule – since in order to do so you would have to appear (“specially”) in the court to do it, and if you’re far away, that’s impractical. Another way to handle the situation is to let the court rule and then attack the judgment in the correct court. That also has significant drawbacks, so if you know about the situation before judgment, it can present a tough question.

But most people do not learn about suits where the courts lack jurisdiction before judgment.  They find out about them later. What do you do if that happens?

No Authority, No Judgment

The good news is that there is NO time limit on a voidable judgment. The court never had authority to enter the judgment, and “all” you have to do is establish that fact. You can do that at any time, and it completely undoes the judgment. It is called “void ab initio,” meaning “from the beginning” as if it never existed.

Burden of Proof

The bad news is that you can have a high burden of proving that the court did not have authority over you. Most courts require you to present “clear and convincing” evidence of the facts that you were not subject to the court’s jurisdiction. In the case of residency – you were living in California but sued in Florida, that isn’t necessarily so hard.

In the case of sewer service – where you weren’t served, but the process server swore you were, it can be much more of a challenge. Still, almost everybody I’ve known who tried it succeeded. That’s because the process servers normally describe the person to whom they theoretically gave the petition, and they usually won’t know your age or body shape, and often guess incorrectly your gender and race. If their affidavit says they served a woman 5’2” eyes of blue and you’re obviously not that, you’re good. Other things obviously aren’t as easy to prove.

What you Have to Prove

You have to prove by good evidence that the court lacked jurisdiction over you.

What you Do Not Have to Prove

You won’t have to prove you made any mistake (you didn’t) or that the substance of the judgment (i.e., you owe $2,000) was wrong in any way. You do not need to allege or prove any “defense” to the suit, in other words. Attack the jurisdiction, and the case goes away.

What you Should Not Have to Prove

You shouldn’t have to prove you didn’t receive notice of a sewer service filing. Suppose, for example, you found it in the trash in a nearby dumpster. Most courts require proper service and not “notice” of the suit. But I’m afraid you can’t count on the courts to apply that rule consistently. You will not want to offer proof or any indication that you heard about the case in any way prior to judgment. If you became alerted to the fact that a process server was around and do some research in the court files, you will want to disguise the fact and cover your trail.

Special State Rules

The rules for this sort of motion to vacate are NOT the easily found rules in the rules of civil procedure. You must research your state’s rules for voidable judgments and follow whatever rules you find there.

Products Related to this Article

We do not have a product directly related to this article if you are moving to void a judgment. You may find our Motion to Vacate Pack helpful in showing you the form of motions and proof, but it does not contemplate the rules you would need to follow. I emphasize, again, that in filing a motion to void a judgment entered without jurisdiction, you would not want or need to include a “proposed Answer,” and you would not need to allege a defense (although claiming a defense wouldn’t hurt and might help).

You would probably find our memberships useful, particularly if the situation with the debt collector that brought you here is not the only one you’re facing.

Memberships

Members get discounts on all products as well as unlimited opportunities to join our regularly scheduled teleconferences. This gives invaluable real-time assistance, answers to questions, help with strategies, and encouragement. You also get the Litigation Manual and the Three Weaknesses Report for free with membership. Find out about memberships by clicking the “About Memberships” link in the menu at the top of the page.

 

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What you’ll receive if you sign up is a series of several videos and articles spread out over several days, and then you will occasionally hear from us as we add information to the site. We don’t always announce that information, though.

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Debt Collector Dirty Tricks

The Debt Collection Business

For a free copy of this article in pdf form, click here: Debt Collector Dirty Tricks

Debt Collectors

At its best, debt collection is a hard business. They’re trying to force people who are already making tough choices to make different choices. To make a person give up food or insurance to pay a bill for something that’s already come and gone is hard to do. And even when the choice isn’t quite that stark, there’s always the challenge of making someone give up what they want NOW for what they used to want THEN.

On the other hand, most people do want to pay their bills, and they feel guilty and embarrassed when they don’t. The debt collectors know and use those facts regularly. You might consider efforts to trigger those feelings “dirty tricks,” but we won’t discuss them other than in certain extreme ways the debt collectors play their cards.

Debtors

People who owe money also usually feel, and are, vulnerable to various bad things, and many of the dirtiest tricks use this fact against them. From a slightly different angle, one of the things that get people into debt trouble in the first place is hope or optimism – they overestimate what they can or will do or they look for an easy way out. This can make them easy suckers for scams, from get-rich-quick scams to get-out-of-debt scams. But what concerns us most for purposes of this article is that it causes them to overestimate what they can pay or for how long they can do it. Thus there’s a tendency for people to make agreements they can’t keep.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the tricks the debt collectors play to use the weaknesses of people in debt against them so that you can recognize and prepare for them. We also have a report that you can get for free that has many more of the worst of the tricks.

I have found that a lot of people come to us after doing some things that hurt their rights. Part of our mission is to protect some of those rights before they get lost or damaged. We want to catch people earlier in the debt cycle, in other words. If you give the wrong person money, it’s almost impossible to get it back.

A Few Preliminary Words

There are a few things I will say before getting into the scams and tricks. First, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes almost all of the tricks we discuss here illegal. But some of them are not, as we will discuss.

The FDCPA generally requires fair-dealing and honesty of the debt collectors, and it makes deception and “misleading” behaviors illegal. It also gives them certain affirmative requirements. But it applies only to “debt collectors” as that term is defined, and there is currently a lot of uncertainty about exactly what the term means and just who is a debt collector even among legitimate operators, and there are a lot of crooks out there, too.

What there is really no doubt about at all is that debt collectors, whether they are within the definition of the FDCPA or not, will do almost anything to get your money. You know that. We can only list and describe a relatively few of their tricks, but you need to develop the habit of extreme caution and skepticism towards anybody who’s trying to get you to give them some money. You need PROOF of every aspect of what they’re saying, because, as we all know, paying the wrong person a bill we really owe doesn’t do any good at all – it just means we’re going to double-pay.

No legitimate debt collector will require you to act immediately the first time you hear from them. Don’t let them hurry you into lowering your standards of proof – that’s the key to all of their other tricks.

A Few of Their Tricks

The tricks here are only a few of what they have come up with, and they will constantly be coming up with more. These are merely examples. The tricks don’t all have formal names, but I have given them names to make them easier to remember.

Asking for Post-dated Checks

Sometimes a debt collector will urge you to send a post-dated check. That is, a check with a date on it that’s different than the actual date. You think the money will be there in a week, so you write the check for next week.

Debt collectors love to get you to do this. Why?

There are some legitimate reasons, and this isn’t always a scam or dirty trick. It is a fact that people get busy, have second thoughts, or simply change their minds – especially when it comes to paying money for something that doesn’t bring them pleasure. A debt collector has a legitimate interest, assuming the debt is valid and the collector is honest (which you should almost never do), in getting your money before any of that happens. He or she has talked you into doing something, and he doesn’t want it to come undone as soon as you hang up. A post-dated check is a good way to make your intention stick.

The problem is that you cannot trust the debt collector, yourself, or the world around you with this.

You can’t trust the debt collector because most debt collectors will say anything that comes to mind to get you to do what they want. They are under intense pressure to perform, and to perform quickly. Therefore, chances are good that the debt collector will not remember – and not even try to remember – that your check is post-dated check. That will be forgotten before you hang up.

So even if by chance your check goes to the debt collector who called you, she will put the check in the pile to go to the bank immediately. And it isn’t likely the person who called you will see the check – it will automatically go out for payment when it arrives in the office.

And you can’t even trust yourself on this. If you were just trying to get the debt collector to go away, or if you made a slight miscalculation, or if something unforeseen happens – as so often happens – you will be in trouble.

Attempt to Collect from Relatives of the Dead

With few exceptions, a parent or spouse’s debts do NOT transfer to anyone else. A deceased’s debts are claims against the decedent’s estate. That means, if there’s a will, that any claimants will have to make a claim against the estate in probate. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, then in some situations the “residuary” beneficiary of the will might be liable.

If the will says, “I leave $100 to Mary and the rest to John,” John is the residuary beneficiary, and John might under some circumstances be liable for a debt. But of course it almost never happens because the creditor would have to prove a variety of things that aren’t easy to prove. Most debt collectors want nothing to do with that. They’d rather try to get you to pay.

All you need to know is that if a debt collector is asking you to pay someone else’s bills it’s probably a scam.

Debt collectors know most people do not know the law and have never thought they might owe someone else’s bills.  People who are grieving are less likely to question or oppose someone who asserts that they owe something. In other words, this scam requires catching you at a vulnerable time and taking advantage of it.

The FBI’s After You

In this scam, someone calls you up “from Washington” (or wherever) to let you know you’ve been implicated in some vague crime or misdeed. They’ve tried this one on me a couple of times, as a matter of fact, only the person was supposedly calling from the Social Security Administration to tell me my account had been “frozen” because someone was using the number to launder money.

The agent spoke fast and had a number to call for verification, but things were close to a boiling point. I was supposed to act quickly or expect the FBI to show up within the next day, or possibly hours. Of course the first thing I had to do was verify a few numbers for them…

This is obviously a criminal scam, with only the barest pretense at being debt collection when there is one – sometimes the threat is that agents are on the way to pick you up for non-payment of some debt, or whatever. The critical features are the urgency, the authority, and the threat.

The people doing this one are clearly not legitimate debt collectors, they’re criminals, but it may show up as a debt collection, and chances are good you’ve been targeted because of some perceived vulnerability. Tell these guys to take a hike.

There’s more in the report

You will find many more examples of debt collector dirty tricks in our free Bestiary of Debt Collector Dirty Tricks. You can find that by clicking here: https://yourlegallegup.com/blog/debt-collector-dirty-tricks/.

 






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Econ 101 or What Happens when the Bills Come Due

I believe it is a fundamental, unchanging law: there are no free lunches in life or nature. What gets bought must be paid for, eventually, by someone.Members at Your Legal Leg Up know very well that that law applies to daily personal purchasing decisions, and many have paid very steep prices indeed. But it also applies at the national and international level, and politicians who have long ignored the fact are soon going to be reminded of it.

As one economist puts it, in order for one person to get something for nothing, someone else must get nothing for something. So what happens to our current government debt of 21 trillion dollars (more or less, and growing rapidly) in a world of debt jubilee? Eventually it must be paid, right?

This is part of a series of articles on Occupy Wall Street, Debt Jubilee, and our future. Click on the links for the previous articles, but this article should stand on its own, also.

Debts Used to be Paid in Gold

Up until the 1930s, debts all the world round were settled, ultimately, in gold. A “dollar” was a fixed amount of gold, and for over a hundred years there had been essentially NO inflation. There had been occasional “runs” on banks that got overextended, and banks (and people with savings in them) got wiped out from time to time, and there had been occasional booms and busts. The Federal Reserve was put in to deal with those problems, and so it did. Thirteen years after its founding in 1914 the Great Depression began, and we’ve been on a boom and bust cycle ever since then.

But I digress.

Private Debts were Paid in Gold until the 1930s

The point is that Gold was first removed from actual circulation within the United State by Franklin Roosevelt and made illegal for persons to own. At the same time, the dollar was devalued (against gold on an international basis) by about thirty percent. International debts were still settled in gold until 1971.

So what does “settled in gold” even mean? When a businessperson in the U.S. buys a Japanese widget, he pays either dollars or yen. That is, either he sells dollars to buy yen, or the Japanese business ultimately does so. In any event, some dollars are transferred to Japan. Of course this happens in a gazillion ways and times throughout any given year, but in the final analysis one side is holding more of the other side’s currency. Mostly, that is allowed to persist, but at some point the side holding more of the other side’s currency may want to settle up in something else. Until 1971 foreigners could trade dollars for gold.

Dollar Window is Closed

Then there was the Vietnam war along with various U.S. policies that cost more than the government was taking in. That caused the dollar’s actual value to go down, but the official dollar value in gold stayed the same. That meant that gold was too “cheap,” and the French (in particular) decided to trade large amounts of dollars for gold. In 1971, the U.S. dollar was cut free of any specific relationship to gold and the government stopped giving foreigners gold for dollars.

At that point, the U.S. deficit was a few billion dollars and causing a lot of anxiety. Since then it has grown to 21 trillion (and adding, at current rates, another trillion or more per year) and causing very little anxiety. People on Social Security are hoping to get paid, and yet there are fewer and fewer workers to support them, so they are being paid out of taxes (or, realistically, government debt). The deficit is going to grow, inevitably.

Still No Free Lunches

What happens when the law against free lunches kicks in, finally? What happens when those trillions have to be paid? And what happens if, along the way, a lot of student loan and other debts are also wiped out by legislative act?

Right now, the dollar’s value is established by the free market (which isn’t to say it isn’t extremely manipulated). It’s worth what people all over the world say it’s worth without reference to any fixed point (gold, historically). When the law against free lunches kicks in, people will decide they would rather have things than dollars. They’ll say the dollar is worth less as they try to recuperate some of the resources they’ve been sending over in exchange for U.S. debt, in other words. This process has happened many times to various other countries. It is happening right now to Venezuela, whose inflation rate was, unofficially, approximately 1 million percent in 2018. It’s happening in Turkey right now. It happened in Germany, where one U.S. dollar was ultimately worth 4 trillion German marks in 1921.

Current Deficit is 21 Trillion Dollars and Growing

You can buy a lot of stuff for $21,000,000,000,000.00. If people try to buy stuff with that much money it’s going to cause prices to zoom higher. Many factors have held that result in check for the time being, but it will not last. If history is any guide, the change will be sudden and happen with incredible, bewildering speed. When adding straws to camel backs, one never knows which one will be the one that is too much. All that is certain is that currently over a trillion straws are being added every year. I think the one too much will happen within the next decade or two.

The havoc caused by currency destruction is almost unbelievable. Historically, it has meant the destruction of the middle class and all economic security. It has devastated the poor and led to widespread starvation and disease, and it has led to oppressive government and foreign wars. Without going into further details, I hope that the millennials will try to prevent it from happening. That’s going to mean some very tough choices.

As an aside to the reader, although I think the value of the dollar may, at the point foreseen, be among the least of your problems, it would probably be smart to try to keep it from being a problem at all. You should consider buying things of actual value no with whatever money you can afford. Talking about gold, silver, land, food… I’m not saying hoard cans of food like a survivalist. I’m saying it makes sense to recognize what seems to be coming our way and take rational steps to prepare where possible. There seems to be no telling when things will hit the fan, but that they will hit the fan is guaranteed by the law against free lunches.

Letter to People being Sued for Debt

Could Anything Actually Make You Glad to Get Sued by Debt Collectors?!

Dear Harassed Consumer,

It’s hard to believe that could happen, isn’t it – that you could actually end up glad you got sued by a debt collector? And yet it could true.

If you’re being sued by a debt collector, chances are it’s coming at the end of a long process that started with missed bills, phone calls, letters, messed up credit reports, worry, and missed sleep at night. I don’t need to tell you how awful it is. And the lawsuit itself may seem like a nightmare. After all, if you lose, you could face new problems: garnishment of wages, seizure of bank accounts, and possibly even worse.

And you can forget about your credit report if they get a judgment, right?

That all sounds bad, and it IS what happens to most people being sued. But it doesn’t have to happen to you.

So How Could Getting Sued Possibly Be Good News?

Simple. You could win. And you should win most of the time.

It seems hard to believe, but the lawsuit could actually be the end of your trouble. That’s because the debt collectors almost always start their lawsuit without what they need to win, and without being able or willing to get what they need to win. If you fight back intelligently, that may give you a chance to erase your debt for good. In the process, you can take control of your life again.

What if you could make the debt that’s hung over you go away? Imagine how you’ll feel when you drive the debt collector away and erase the debt. You can start repairing your credit report and get back to your life. You can answer your phone without worrying about debt collectors

Finally.

It’s even better than that, though. Here’s what one user of our litigation services said about his experience:

Today I received in the mail an offer “Stipulation For Dismissal With Prejudice”,which basically states the Plaintiff will dismiss their Complaint if I dismiss my counterclaim.  All the examples,logic and powerful arguments presented in your materials helped me beyond belief! I am eternally grateful,and right now quite ecstatic!

Thanks Ken,
Frank from Arizona 

 

And another:

Just a quick email to say THANK YOU for your well written manual! I was scared to death when I got a Summons and Complaint served on me by a debt collection attorne. I did exactly what you said though, and basically let them know I wasn’t going away.… So I filed a Motion to Dismiss, and that was pretty much it. The Attorney folded like a cheap suit, and I have to say it almost felt better than sex!

Thanks again! 
Gary

 

These people, and many more, could tell you the same thing: you can beat the debt collectors. And when you do, it will feel even better than you would ever guess. It will change your life. They’ll never push you around again. You’ll never be scared of debt collectors and their lawyers again.

And it won’t cost you a fortune, either.

You can do it all with our litigation products. Memberships with us give you the help you need to take control and win against most debt collectors.

Now, I should point out that we’re not talking about magic here, no “secret” tricks, no voodoo. We’re talking about using the rules to slip through the gaping holes in the debt collectors’ nets. See, if you could win 90 percent of the time without spending anything, and 91 percent of the time if you spent a bunch on all your lawsuits, would it make sense to spend anything? It doesn’t, and they don’t. Almost always. If you get the rare case where they have what they need and are willing to spend the money to pursue the case right, they will probably win. Or force you to settle the case, although if you settle it will be for much less than most people, even then.

But they almost never have what they need or the willingness to fight if you do it right. And that’s what we show you how to do.

I Don’t Want to Tell You You Can Just Get Away with It (But You Probably Can)

I don’t want to tell you you can rack up debt and get away without paying, because we should all pay our debts. But these are tough times, and sometimes things happen that make it impossible to pay.

And sometimes those things are the fault of the banks.

If you’re having trouble with credit cards, not having to pay would be poetic justice.

Not only have they siphoned away huge amounts of public money through the infamous “bailouts,” ensuring that you and your children will be taxed for decades to keep the banking fat-cats in their fancy cars and expensive mansions. But these same people have set you up for failure, offering you way more credit than you could ever pay off. Sure you should have known, maybe, but they’re paid to know, and they did know. They deliberately set you up to borrow more money than you could pay back…so that you’d be stuck with ridiculous interest rates and ruinous fees. They wanted it to happen, and they made it happen. Now they’re trying to drive you into the ground.

If they’re after you, the only way you can get them to stop is make them stop. Our materials give you what you need to do that.

Occupy Wall Street and Debt Jubilee

This article was originally written only about the Occupy Wall Street when that was a “thing.” For an instant in time, it looked like people might look up and notice the huge shift in wealth from the poor and working classes to the rich. And from the young generation (Millennials as they’re now called) to the Baby Boomers That moment has passed but the issues remain, and a large-scale disruption seems inevitable. The student loan picture has grown much worse, and combined with health care and retirement issues, might well bring on an inter-generational conflict of massive proportions.

I think it will likely take the form of a “debt jubilee.” And this, along with other economic policies, will have consequences.

Occupy Wall Street – The Beginnings of a Serious Movement

As always, I’m a little cautious when I bring an “outside” issue into the discussion of defending yourself from a lawsuit brought by a debt collector. But there are links: there is increasing resistance to the status quo of banks and debt collectors using the legal system to take things away from people without a lot of money. So far, this resistance hasn’t accomplished much (if anything) on the broader political scene, but it is beginning to create an energy that may affect what litigants and judges will do. It may also radically change the whole debt legal landscape.

And that brings the discussion within the legitimate scope of my analysis.

Here’s what I wrote about Occupy Wall Street, and then there’s a link to an article about debt jubilees.

Occupy Wall Street Is Just Getting Started

I am very happy to see the demonstrations. As I have mentioned before, there is certainly a “class war” going on, but that war is not in the words of the fringe politicians. It is in the actions of the political decision-makers, who have transferred trillions of dollars to the wealthiest people (by and large, these are the people who own the banks) through the bailouts and other policies. It is the working and middle class people who are and have been under fire. They pay the price of the bailouts to the rich, and they are the ones being sued for debt more than anybody else, who are losing their homes and groaning under big credit card balances with outrageous rates of interest.

They should be mad. Occupy Wall Street has started, like so many other social movements, among the young, but it is showing some signs of attracting the working and middle classes. There’s smoke. Will there be fire? I think that possibility certainly exists, and the persistence of the “occupation” has been impressive.

The Occupiers’ Message

It isn’t that I think the demands of Occupy Wall Street are coherent at this point. I haven’t been able to make out any sort of specific, consistent message from the things they have written, or that have been written about them. But that said, I do believe that they have a point. They know they’ve been screwed –they just don’t know how. Yet.

“Green Tea Party”

Last year I called for a “Green Tea Party.” Although the name was a little tongue-in-cheek, the thoughts behind it were quite serious. The Tea Party, with its calls for “smaller government” (but apparently without wanting to reduce American military adventurism around the globe or subsidies for corporations and other traditionally right wing interests) captures the imaginations and hopes of a lot of people who feel disenchanted by politicians. Occupy Wall Street, with their opposition to bailouts for the wealthy and other corporate “help” (but apparently with some faith in the trustworthiness and goodness of government), really are a sort of mirror image of the Tea Party.

There is a lot of antagonism between the two groups right now, but they both, actually, seem to want the same thing. Both groups want a world where people have a chance to survive and get ahead in life. Each identifies one side of the coin as the problem. And the coin is that we have a ruling class that uses government as a tool -to take money from the lower and middle classes and give it to the rich, and to expand their reach and power through the world.

A Combined Populist Movement

What would happen if Occupy Wall Street came, as many progressive organizations did during the Great Depression, to view big government as the problem rather than the solution? What would happen if the Tea Party, as Ron Paul clearly does, came to see the assertion of U.S. military power around the world as a form of big government opposed to personal freedom? or corporate bailouts as contrary to free market enterprise?

Then the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street might come together with some real populist power. It would never be called the “Green Tea Party,” of course, but it might be called “The New America” movement or something like that. Something that might capture the urgent need for our country to move back towards real democracy, away from the on-going siphoning of resources to the wealthy, and away from the constantly expanding government that makes that possible.

Public Response

The response to both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street has been “instructive.” It’s actually very similar to the initial response to “Arab Spring,” the movement which has toppled dictators in the Middle East and continues to reshape politics over there. The financial press ignored Occupy Wall Street as long as possible, and since then have been, almost uniformly, contemptuous or patronizing. Politicians have either ignored the group or tried to co-opt them. And the police response has mirrored what we saw in the Middle East out of the dictators: brutal and arrogant.

Meanwhile, more and more people are gravitating towards the marchers.

There has been criticism of the Tea Party that they were, in fact, co-opted by the Republican Party, and I think that is partially true. It has been a platform for the anti-intellectual side of the party, no doubt. But this co-optation is certainly not complete, as the Tea Party candidates have shown that they do have their own agenda that is not always under the control of the rest of the party. If the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street could somehow see beyond their differences and develop the broad common ground they share, the resulting movement would, I believe, be beyond the power of either political party to co-opt.

Now a new phase of this movement is beginning – a call for “debt jubilee,” where student loans will simply be wiped off the books. How will this happen and what will it do? Click here for article on Debt Jubilee. The movement will dramatically affect everything in the U.S., from schooling to Social Security and beyond. And there will be consequences.

 

They Laughed at Me but Then

The Debt Collectors Laughed at Me

When I Said “Here!” in Court

But When I Gave Them My Answer …

It looked like a typical day at court – – the debt collection lawyers were circling the table in front of the judge like vultures flying around some unfortunate animal on its last legs. There must have been ten –maybe fifteen—of them, and each time the judge called out a defendant’s name – – “Smith!… Jones!… Williams!… Thompson!…”- – there was silence, and then one of the lawyers would say in a bored voice, “Call for default.” And the judge said, “Default.”

– – Just like that, the debt collectors had their judgments, and as soon as that court session was over, they were going down to start the garnishment process. Start taking some poor guy’s paycheck.

The judge must have given the debt collectors fifty defaults before they reached my name, and it looked like there were more than a hundred more to go after me.

“Westmore!” the judge called out.

“Here!” I said.

In the shocked silence that followed I heard someone laugh. And I could see people nudging each other with their elbows. “What’s he doing?” one woman whispered, just loud enough for me to hear. I heard someone snicker. “Just a regular guy,” someone else said. “They’ll eat his lunch!” The debt collection lawyers smirked among themselves. That’s what they thought, too. No one EVER fights back.

Then I handed the Court My Answer

I walked up to the court clerk and handed her my Answer to the Petition.

It looked good.

Sharp and professional.

And it had a counterclaim. She raised her eyebrow with a new respect as she took the document and entered it onto the record. The vultures got strangely quiet and looked away when I dropped off a copy of my Answer and Counterclaim with the debt collection lawyer (I’ll call him “Mr. Nice Guy”) who had raised his hand on my way back to my seat.

The people who had been laughing at me could feel the change that had come over the court room. They got quiet, and I could sense their new respect.

They smiled and moved over to make room for me when I wanted to sit back down. Mr. Nice Guy was still smirking when he took the documents I handed him, but the smile started to fade when he noticed the counterclaim. And it was ancient history by the time he noticed I’d attached interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for documents to my Answer and Counterclaim.

He knew he was in for a fight. He knew it was going to cost him. He knew he was going to lose money if he kept after me. And he knew he might lose the case. He had come expecting a patsy—all those vultures had, you could see that just by looking at their smooth, scornful faces. I doubt if a single one of those lawyers ever did a day’s worth of real work in their lives!

Well, he’d run into a buzz saw this time.

A Complete Success!

Two days later I received a letter that said:

Dear Mr. James Westmore, My client has agreed to offer to settle our cases against each other as a mutual dismissal with prejudice. If that is acceptable to you, please sign the attached stipulation for dismissal of the lawsuits the parties have against each other and return them to me for filing.

Sincerely,
Mr. Nice Guy

I decided to let the debt collector go. I could have said “no” and tried to make him pay me something to get out of it (I think I had him cold), but… who wants to spend the rest of his life in court if you don’t have to?

It was as easy as that, although I know it isn’t always that easy – not by a long shot. Still, when you start fighting everything is leaning your way. It’s just that no one knows it.

I suddenly had a whole new life in front of me. So I made a quick call to the lawyer and said his offer was acceptable to me…if they would cancel the debt I supposedly owed and revoke any damage they had done to my credit report.

After a pause, Mr. Nice Guy gave in. So I wrote that right into the stipulation of dismissal, signed and sent it back to “Mr. Nice Guy & Associates.”

It was over. Just like that, a $7,000 credit card bill that debt collectors had harassed me about for three years was gone. And all the reports they had made to the credit agencies were gone with them.

How I Learned to Protect Myself in Court

Just by chance, I bumped into one of the “bystanders” who had seen me say “Here!” on that fateful day in court. He wanted to know how it had turned out for me.

When I told him, he asked me if I was a lawyer or “knew” somebody!

He was shocked when I told him that the only thing I knew about the law was stuff I had learned from YourLegalLegUp – a business that gives regular people everything they need to defeat the debt collectors. I told him how I’d learned all about the debt collectors and how they usually didn’t have what they needed to win their lawsuits. I told him I’d even gotten the forms I needed, too – “just a few easy changes was all I needed to make!”

“Wow,” he said. “It cost me over $1500 to hire a lawyer. And he didn’t even get my credit report changed!”

I was almost embarrassed to say how little it cost me to defend myself.

Look in the Mirror – What Do You See?

These days, when I look in a mirror I see a winner looking back. You won’t believe how much that is worth.

Before the debt collector sued me, back when they were just calling me every day, I got so that I hated to hear the phone ring. To tell the truth, there were many times I just couldn’t answer the phone at all. If an old high school friend tried to reach me, and I didn’t recognize his phone number, well, that was too bad. I missed the call. I wouldn’t answer the doorbell, either, unless I was expecting someone.

It’s hard to be a good friend or neighbor if you dread answering the phone, you know? It’s also hard to be a good neighbor if you’re afraid to answer the door when the doorbell rings or walk outside on the porch on a nice night when other people are out there.

And after a while it can be hard to look yourself in the mirror.

That’s all changed for me now, though. Now I like what I see, and you can too.

Why’d I Do It?

I won’t kid you – – it was scary to stand up and say “Here!” that first time. It was a little embarrassing to have all those people looking at me – – even though I’d never met them before and didn’t expect to meet them again. So why would I care what they thought? I cared because I’m like most people. We do care. I didn’t want to be the center of attention and didn’t want to be laughed at or pitied or scorned by strangers. That’s human nature.

I did it, though, because I was fed up. I was sick and tired of those debt collectors and their nasty voices. Sick of their contemptuous looks. Tired of being bullied and threatened by some anonymous punk on the phone. Plus I didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer –or to lose the case, either.

And I was fed up with feeling hopeless and pushed around.

It Changed My Life

And now that I’ve done it, it’s changed my point of view completely. The whole world looks and feels different to me in ways I never would have believed. I look in the mirror and like what I see again because I know I’m the guy – – yeah, that guy right there in the mirror!- – that’s the only one who stood up in court and said “Here!” that day.

I’m the one who fought back.

And I’m the one who won’t have to hear from the debt collectors any more or try to scrounge every cent I possibly can to keep the wolves away from the door. That’s me! It feels great to know I was brave enough to do what it took. No one will ever take that feeling away from me again.

To tell you the truth, the whole thing was absurdly easy. (The work was all in my head.) I spent a few hours reading the Manual, a few hours watching videos, and an hour or two putting together the documents I gave the court. The lawsuit was for about $7,000, so I figure I “made” about $1,000 per hour defending myself. It’s better than what I usually get at my job, let me tell you!

Other people sometimes have to do much more, but once you start fighting things should go your way. That’s because they really usually don’t have what they need and everything you do makes them spend $200 per hour fighting you. That’s money they know they might never get back even if they win because they don’t know if they’ll ever be able to collect it. It’s sweet.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror now, and I feel good about answering the phone or the door.

It’s the little things in life that are so big, isn’t it? Now I’m a good friend and neighbor again. I hold my head up when I’m out in public. Little things that are so huge.

I’m a new man!

My wife has certainly noticed the difference. Not only do we both have a sense of security we’d been missing for so long, but she also says she’d about lost the man she fell in love with. And she lets me know she’s glad I’m back every night! It’s like a second honeymoon.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Defend Yourself from the Debt Collectors

– Protect What’s Yours

You too can defend yourself from the debt collectors. You can have the good feelings “Jim Westmore” has. The above is a fictitious letter, but it’s drawn from the things real people have written to me many times. The results are not fictional.

Let me share just a few of the things some real people have said in their own words –and I’ve never paid, or even asked, for any of these testimonials. Notice the confidence and joy in every word they say.

Thanks for your work, Kenneth, I believe you have done a great job creating yourlegallegup.com. It helps in many ways, not only I fought against unfair debt collectors, but also I was educating myself.

I went through your work and crafted it to fit my case circumstances. Your “legal bundle” gave me ideas and the direction I should follow and, together with research skills, it made great power in defending the case.

One more thing. I’ve got the letter from the lawyers last night. The letter is addressed to the court and it says it is plaintiff’s “voluntary dismissal…”

Yes, it works. Yes, it wins. I appreciate you sharing your great knowledge.

Thanks, Andrew, Georgia

Hi Ken,

You have GREAT videos!! There’s something about seeing the videos and hearing your voice that makes the material all the more easy to absorb!
Thanks again for your continued support and help!! 🙂 Christine, Michigan

Ken, Just a quick email to say THANK YOU for your well-written manual! I was scared to death when I got a summons and complaint served on me by a debt collection attorney. I did exactly what you said, though, and basically let them know I wasn’t going away….and that was pretty much it. The attorney folded like a cheap suit, and I have to say it almost felt better than sex!

Thanks again,

Gary, Ohio

I settled and it was a victory on my terms! Thank you for the manual and working with me thru my emotions and getting me to the end….I waited to respond to until I saw for myself….It works to fightback! THANK YOU …THANK YOU…Ken.

I saved several thousand dollars….money well spent on the manual….

Olivia, California

Again Thank you very much for all your great advice-hints. I wont keep messaging you because I know you have a life over there too! But again Thank you so very much. If you make it out to Seattle let me know. Star bucks is definitely on me as well as dinner.

And I’m serious.

Kevin, Seattle

Today I received in the mail an offer “Stipulation For Dismissal With Prejudice”,which basically states the Plaintiff will dismiss their Complaint if I dismiss my counterclaim.

Its a done deal. Over five thousand dollars just like that!

Your litigation materials were clear, vital and necessary tools for me to win. All the examples,logic and powerful arguments presented in your materials helped me beyond belief! I am eternally grateful,and right now quite ecstatic!

Your materials are simply the best and finest of its type anywhere for pro se defendants facing debt lawsuits!

Thanks Ken,

Frank, Arizona

The great thing about your materials is that they take away the fear of going to court. I can never thank you enough for that!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Barbara, Maine

The Secret of Their Success

As anybody who knows me or has visited our site (Your Legal Leg Up) can see, we have devoted a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to helping ordinary people stand up to the debt collectors. As a former attorney who represented hundreds of people being sued by debt collectors, I know what it’s like to be harassed and sued, and I know what it takes to fight back. We have written dozens of articles, several full length books, and created over a hundred videos on defending yourself from debt collectors.

What makes it work, though, is actually very simple. Here’s the “secret.”

Debt collectors usually don’t have what they need to win a lawsuit from you when they file suit against you… And they usually can’t get what they need without spending more than the lawsuit is worth… if you fight back with knowledge and determination.

It isn’t hard! The main battle is in your head. Once you get used to the idea of speaking to the lawyers and the judge, once you see that they’re just people who don’t usually have to work very hard and who really don’t like to work hard, you’ll have all the advantages in your case.

The debt collectors win about 80 to 90 percent of their cases without a fight. If you convince them that you know how to fight and that you will fight – – to the bitter end if need be – – they’d rather leave you alone. That’s the secret.

Our materials tell you what you need to know so that you can fight back. And we’re there to encourage you to do it when things seem a little scary so that you will fight back.

You’ll Deserve the Credit!

We offer our help. Our materials will inform you and give you the tools… but in the end the victory is yours. And you will deserve the pride you feel when you look in the mirror. And the peace of mind that comes from knowing that debt collectors will never push you around again. Because you are part of that very exclusive club of people who will actually stand up and fight.

You’ll deserve all the credit and peace of mind you earn for yourself.

And you will see the world differently – we guarantee it.

Our Materials are Guaranteed

If you’re being sued (or being pursued) by a debt collector and get our materials… we like your chances of winning –they’re great!– but we can’t guarantee you will win or that they’ll take the settlement you offer. Sometimes the debt collectors can get what they need and are willing to spend what it takes to get you even though it means they will lose money. That’s just life. What we can and do guarantee, though, is that you will be satisfied with the materials and the service you get, or you can have your money back. We wouldn’t want it. We also guarantee that if you decide to settle your case (instead of going all the way to trial), you will save at least twice what the materials cost you. Probably much much more.

One customer decided to pay the debt collector $500 rather than fight to the very end. But he had been sued for $12,000. And he made them clear his credit report.

We thought he would win the case –maybe make them pay him something—but he decided he had better things to do. If you ever feel the same way—that you’ll do better in your life if you settle for a small fraction of what they claim you owe—you’ll get a settlement offer that saves you at least twice what you paid for the materialsor you get your money back from us.

We’ll take that risk. Gladly. That way you don’t risk anything on the materials.

Now you just need to move quickly. And that’s mainly because if they’re suing you – or about to sue you – you don’t have time to waste.

 

Bothered by Debt Collectors

Debt – both a personal problem and a social issue

We know that if you are facing any kind of debt problems – and most definitely if you are being sued or threatened with suit – you have a situation facing you, personally, that is extremely important. We take that very seriously, and most of our efforts are designed to help you solve the problem on a personal basis. If you’re being sued, for example, that means we want you to win – and then to repair your credit report so that it doesn’t hurt you anymore.

If you are being harassed by debt collectors or have a negative credit report already, we want to help you fix those things at the personal level. Thus we are strong and committed advocates for you. We’re on your side all the way.

There’s also a social justice issue here which is worth keeping in mind. You will not always find the courts sympathetic to you or willing to listen – or to do their job at all, frankly. We believe that this reflects a larger issue where the powers that be seem to think it is perfectly fine to rob from the poor and give to the rich. In this area, we think that the more people who represent themselves in cases like this, and the stronger and better you are at standing up for yourself… the better everybody else will be. And the more who do it, the better for everyone. So we are also strong social advocates.

In other words, sometimes the courts may seem unwilling to listen to you or actually hostile. If you persist, though, you will still have an excellent chance to win.

Stand up for yourself in every way. Don’t let the debt collectors rip you off – which they will certainly do if you give them the chance. Fight back! Even if you used the credit card or borrowed the money, you have to defend yourself to make sure they don’t get any more than they should and don’t do any more harm than they’re entitled to. And in reality, you have a really great chance to win. Completely.

The law is an adversary system, and the up-side to the fact that if you don’t take care of yourself the debt collectors will rip you off is that if you do take care of yourself you will probably be in better shape than you can even imagine possible right now.

Sued for Debt – What’s Reasonable to Want out of Settlement

What’s Reasonable to Want and How do you Get it?

If you’re being sued for debt and have at least some money, you may be thinking about settling the case. What’s reasonable to pay? What’s reasonable to want in return for your money? And how do you go about it all?

These are questions that came up in a recent case evaluation. The answers are dynamic, but in a general way they point to some useful ideas.

Settlement Happens When Both Parties Agree they Can’t Do Better

In lawsuits, and perhaps all of life, you take actions you think will give you the best possible outcome. That’s a simple idea, but what it means is that if a company is suing you, they will settle if and only if they think it will give them a better outcome than pursuing the case to trial. In evaluating their case they look at “risk” (of losing) and cost (to pursue the case). When they file the suit, they fully expect to win the case either by default or within a few short weeks without having to spend any significant effort on it. Their only concern is whether you’ll be able to pay, but they do have a serious concern about this issue and will likely either settle for less than they demanded. But not much less.

If you want a better settlement, you’re going to have to take actions to change the way they view the suit.

Look at the Overall Case

Not all lawsuits or claims for money are created equal. If the plaintiff is a debt buyer (and not an original creditor), they will very likely have some or all of the weaknesses we mention in our Three Weaknesses Report. That is, they probably cannot win the case if you fight it intelligently. But they don’t expect many people to fight at all, and of those who do fight, they don’t expect many to know what they’re doing.

That means that when they file suit they completely discount all risk of losing, and they expect costs to be minimal. You need to change those opinions, and if you fight you can change their opinions about both of those things… eventually.

If the plaintiff is an original creditor, there is still a chance they’ll have the three weaknesses. But again they will completely discount any risk of losing. And remember, the lawyers bringing these cases scarcely if at all look at the cases – they have no real idea of what they have. They base their lack of concern over losing on the fact that so few people fight the cases.It’s a waste of money, they figure, to spend even one minute per case looking at the file when almost none of them will actually be disputed.

Again, you can change that by fighting. In discovery you can find out whether they have what they need – and at a minimum you will be adding to their risk (since they’ll have to start spending money to pursue the case, and they’re worried about whether they’ll get it back).

Therefore, it almost always makes sense to start fighting – and to do as good a job at it as possible – whether you have a debt buyer or original creditor, and whether or not you want to settle or try to win.

When it’s Time to Talk Settlement

After a while, you may be able to get the other side to take settlement more seriously.  When you do, what can you reasonable expect from them? Well, in short, that all depends on just how worried they are about their risk of losing and the cost of continuing. If they’re very worried, you could get them to clear whatever credit damage they have done to you, take little or no money to walk away, and give you a dismissal with prejudice.

If they’re not worried, you won’t get much from them. Simple as that.

Factors to Consider in your Favor

Some things that could help your case – you’ve shown them that:

  • They need, but don’t have, a contract with your signature
  • They cannot get records of the debt into evidence
  • They cannot prove they own the debt
  • The case is going to require a significant amount of attorney time to complete
  • The case will not be resolved for a long time
  • They know you know these things

Factors that Could Hurt Your Case

There are some things you can do to make settlement more difficult. And understand, the better your chances of winning are, the more likely they are to settle, so these factors should be considered damaging to your chance of winning at trial.

  • You have admitted to them you owe the debt
  • You have paid the debt collector money
  • You have told the debt collector where you work or bank
  • The trial has been set for a date not far away
  • You have not conducted any discovery

Do you see how all of these things lower their risks or uncertainty regarding getting money from you?

Note that one thing that is NOT a factor is how much they paid for the debt (if they’re debt buyers).  They probably did not pay much, and this might have a small effect on the amount of money they insist on, but their rights are measured by the amount of the original debt. And they will push for the most they can get according to the factors we mentioned above. How much they paid for the debt makes almost no difference. Whether they have “written off” the debt is an accounting matter that also has no impact on your negotiations or the case in general.

Conclusion

If you can do a lot of the things that help you and avoid most of the things that hurt you, you have a very good chance of winning at trial. The better your chance of winning is, the better a settlement you could get if you settle. It all starts with knowing what you’re doing as soon as you can (and of course that’s what our membership is for).

We often say there are no free lunches, and that most definitely extends to settling lawsuits. They will only settle with you and give you what you want because they think that is better than the alternative of continuing to fight. Don’t expect them to settle as a favor to you or from the goodness of their hearts. It just doesn’t work that way.

Being Sued for Debt

Being Sued for Debt

If you’re already being sued for debt – that is, they’ve filed suit against you and served you (or you have found out in some other way) – you have an immediate decision to make. You could give up and let them get a judgment and take your money if they can find it. Or you could defend yourself.

It makes all the sense in the world to defend yourself.

You may think that lawyers wouldn’t file a law suit if they didn’t have the evidence to prove it, and in most kinds of cases that would be correct. Lawyers don’t want to waste their time on bad lawsuits. But in debt law it’s different. In debt law, the debt collectors take hundreds of alleged debts and file suit in all of them (if they want to) without ever looking to see whether they have any evidence that’s any good. They do that – and you might even say the HAVE to do that – because they know that almost all of the people they manage to get served with the lawsuit will give up. When you never have to fight to win, making sure you could win the suit is a waste of time. So they don’t.

As a matter of fact, you have an excellent chance of winning if you fight the debt collectors, and you can do that in one of two ways. You can either hire a lawyer or represent yourself (this is called “pro se” representation).

Going “Pro Se”

While I have always considered hiring a lawyer who understands debt law and will be aggressively on your side as the best way to defend yourself if you can afford it, there are two problems with it. First, it is almost always pretty expensive, and it can be very expensive sometimes, And secondly, it can be difficult to find the right lawyer – and it isn’t always easy to tell who is the wrong lawyer.

It can make sense to represent yourself. This type of law is not extremely complicated, and the debt collectors are often lazy or simply do not have and cannot get what they need, to beat you. If you want to take this route, then I suggest that you get one of our memberships. That will give you information and backing you can use all the way through your defense.

Hiring a Lawyer

I have always considered hiring a lawyer who knows debt law as the best option when you’re sued for debt if you can afford it. As I mention above, the challenge can be finding a lawyer who is experienced in debt law defense and who is not too expensive. I believe I have found a good option for that – a prepaid legal plan specializing in debt defense. If you think you would like to hear about this plan, check out our information on prepaid law.