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Memberships with Your Legal Leg Up

Our membership is a tremendous value and an effective way to level the playing field between you and a debt collector.

After years of providing debt defendants what they need to beat the debt collectors, I have figured out a way to make beating the debt collectors less stressful and time-consuming. If you’d like to save time and stress while improving your chances of victory, keep reading.

How do you “Level the Playing Field” with the Debt Collectors?

As I have often pointed out, the debt collectors rarely have the evidence they need to win a case when they file suit. Instead, they rely on people defaulting or giving up. That’s how they get away with adding illegal fees so often or suing people who never owed any money – or suing for debts they don’t own.

The debt collectors have designed their litigation process to make it more likely that people will give up – they “tilt” the playing field so that fighting them to obtain justice and fair play is always up hill for you. From Petitions alleging the same debt three or four different ways (making it look like you might owe three times as much as they even say you do) to “fake” affidavits of robo-signers swearing to things about which they have no knowledge, to fake account statements and bogus notices – all these things are designed to trick or intimidate people into giving up. Many of these illegal or immoral tactics have been “business as usual” for the debt collectors. They’re notorious for dirty tricks.

And the debt collectors also start with some “institutional” advantages when they sue people for debt – they do this all the time, you know. The debt collectors have associations of other debt collectors and lawyers who provide them the latest information and court decisions nationally, or just contacts to help them strategize how to deal with your case. They have “document banks” – computer files of petitions, motions, discovery, etc. that they know have worked in cases before. These give them a big advantage: they can draft a petition and serve discovery with a few keystrokes by a paralegal, whereas you are left to spend hours responding. They know what works because they know what is happening in the hundreds of thousands of cases like yours that get filed every year.

How do you neutralize the debt collectors’ advantages and level the playing field?

Introducing Your Legal Leg Up Memberships

In order to counteract the advantages of the debt collectors I have created two types of membership with Your Legal Leg Up: Gold and Platinum. These memberships will allow me to provide you more and better service, give you expanded access to helpful materials, and keep you updated on the latest strategies and techniques that people are using to beat the debt collectors. You will have your own “document banks” where you will be able to download documents that have been used successfully by other people in fighting debt collectors so you don’t have to spend ten times as much time as the debt collectors do on simple documents. And you will special access to me and – more importantly – to other people like you who are actually fighting the debt collectors.

Benefits of Membership

As I mentioned above, there are four main features of membership: expanded access to materials, keeping up to date, connecting with others, and creating and building a document bank of documents you can convert to your own use without a ton of trouble.

Expanded Availability of Services

Through the newsletter and members-only homepage, you will receive updates, alerts, and reports and the tried-and-true, easy to understand materials in the ever-expanding “members-only” section of our website. Members will have access not only to the free access videos, but also to our extensive members-only video collection and the Your Legal Leg Up Video Series–now available ONLY to members, previously sold for $149 and available online.

Keeping Current

With the new membership comes a free subscription to Fightdebt!, official newsletter of Your Legal Leg Up. Every month it will give you the latest news in debt litigation as well as special tips on debt litigation, consumer issues, and credit repair. This is another benefit that is available only to members, valued at $49/year. You will also get new videos, reports and alerts as they happen.

Connecting with Others

Although some of the other benefits of membership may be more tangible and obvious, I actually think this benefit is going to be one of the most important benefits of membership. We will start with a members-only blog (which I will mediate), and this will allow more freewheeling contact between members. It is also my goal to connect those who want to be connected to other people who are from the same state. It’s hard to overestimate the advantage that comes with being able to talk to someone else going through the same thing, and working on pleadings and motions (for example) together could even make the process fun. Monthly teleconferences are free for members so callers can benefit from hearing one anothers’ questions and experiences, and a teleconference connections webpage also provides a forum on which participants may share and connect.

Software

Some people do not have a word processing program that will help them create professional documents or cut and paste documents from the document bank. Members will receive a link to a free word processor which will fill that need. Likewise, for ease of viewing, members will be provided a link to a video player that will let them play or download videos from the site.

Sued for Debt Action Steps

Finding out that you’re being sued for debt can be a big shock, and it also puts you at risk for losing the things you have. We have good news for you. You can protect yourself.

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

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?

So How Could Getting Sued Possibly Be Good News?

The lawsuit could actually be the end of your trouble. Instead of hanging back and destroying your credit or just bugging you to death, which you can’t do much about, they’re suing you. And there’s a lot you can do about that.

That’s because the debt collectors usually start their lawsuit without what they need to win. If you play your cards right, that may give you a chance to erase your debt for good. In the process, you can take control of your life again.

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.

Here’s what one user of our materials 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.

If you know what you’re doing – and that’s what we teach you – you can probably win the case even if the debt collector actually has or can get what it needs. And it usually doesn’t.  Your job is to make them start looking for those records, make them start losing money and worrying about whether they will ever see their money again.

The trick is to fight. They’re not really set up to fight you if you know what you’re doing.

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 – they have just about ruined the economy for all of us, after all. not having to pay them would only be poetic justice. Although poetic justice can wait – if they’re after you, you’re in a fight that you just need to win.

Find Out More

If you’re ready to think about taking on the debt collectors, look through our site and consider joining us. We can help you take control of your life and force the debt collectors to leave you alone.

 

You Will Probably Win if you Fight Debt Collectors

If you are being harassed or sued by the debt collectors, there’s no need to give up. You have an excellent chance to win, and it isn’t that hard to defend yourself.

 

Defending Yourself against Debt Collectors Isn’t That Hard

 

Your Legal Leg Up is designed to help ordinary people defend themselves from debt collectors. The problems occur in three main ways. First, before there is litigation, there is usually some sort of harassment – it would be easier and cheaper for the debt collector to scare you into paying if possible. At the same time, it might be possible to get the debt collector settle the issue with you without having to go to court. Thus we help people with debt settlement.

If debt settlement doesn’t work, or if the collector proceeds to a lawsuit without any chance to try to negotiate, you’ll need to defend yourself in litigation. That’s where we got our start, and we have lots of materials that will help you defend yourself. Keep in mind that debt collectors handle everything in bulk. That means they can be very efficient at parts of their lawsuit, but much less so at others. So our materials and approach are designed to exploit that problem. That makes litigation much more expensive and less profitable for the debt collector and maximize your chance of winning, too. That’s why most of our members win their cases.

Even after your lawsuit – or sometimes they don’t even sue – you will probably have damage to your credit report. Thus we help people repair and reconstruct their credit reports. This is a multi-step program that works at eliminating bad information on your credit report while generating new good information.

We have memberships aimed at each of these areas of the debt law. Find the right one for you and let us help you.

Preparing for Mediation Pro Se

Mediation is “rigged” against pro se defendants in debt law cases. Why do I say that? Is there some evil force at play? No…

The mediator might be trying his hardest to be fair and honest, but even so the process is rigged. To understand why, let’s first go back to who the mediator is.

A mediator is usually (but not absolutely always) a lawyer.  That is useful and appropriate in general because you generally want someone who knows how the legal process works and what you might encounter, in general, if you went to court. At the least it will almost certainly be someone who spends a lot of time in court or with lawyers and is impressed with lawyers.

Often the parties are given a list of “approved” mediators by the court. You’d have to get permission to get someone else. In some situations the parties are completely free to find their own mediator.

And I gather that in some situations a mediator is just assigned by the court automatically, and you don’t get to choose.

Mediation is Rigged

Whatever way it works, the lawyer has an advantage. The mediators have a reputation, and the lawyers can find out what that reputation is far more easily than you can. They won’t use a mediator who has a reputation of pushing too hard against them.

And the mediators know that, of course. You see, the debt collection lawyers are “constant.” They handle many, many of these cases, and if one of them decides never to use a mediator…well, that could be a lot of money to the mediator. If you decide against a mediator or don’t like him or her after going through the process, your options are extremely limited. Your opinion simply doesn’t matter as much to the mediator. And that’s true of everything in the whole process.

Lawyers Trust Lawyers

Next, have you ever heard the saying that “everything looks like a nail to someone who is good with a hammer?” That will apply to mediation. As I said, you can pretty much expect the mediator to be a lawyer or at least an ex-lawyer. Lawyers tend to respect, trust and understand other lawyers.

The mediator might like and respect you and be warm and friendly and all that. But when the chips are down, the mediator will tend to trust and believe the lawyer more than you. And he or she will also expect you to lose the case if it goes to trial, no matter what the evidence shows, because of this sympathy to the lawyer for the debt collector.

No matter what the evidence shows.

And this is true even if the mediator doesn’t specially trust or respect collection lawyers. We all know that debt collection isn’t rocket science, but lawyers come basically from the same caste, and they expect other lawyers to be able to beat non-lawyers.

Your Advantages Could Get Forgotten

The mediator will get paid regardless of whether you settle, and regardless of who wins. That reduces the amount of attention the mediator must spend on your central advantage: the price of litigation.

Further, the mediator will almost certainly not know much about debt law or the debt collection business. That means the mediator will tend to undervalue your second main advantage, the Rules of Evidence! If you have my materials (you should!), you will probably know far more about the relevant law and the “facts of life” than the mediator does. That’s because lawyers tend to take sides in their lives. I would never have represented a debt collection company, and debt collector lawyers rarely defend against debt collectors. So no debt collection attorney from either side would be likely to be truly impartial.

And most other lawyers don’t know much about debt collection at all. Thus the mediator’s tendency to trust and believe the debt collector is magnified in importance.

Mediation Can be Intimidating

Finally, let’s consider the mediation process itself. It’s a chance for one-on-one combat (so to speak) between the parties without the rules of evidence being so important. (And the rules of evidence are another of your biggest advantages). The debt collection lawyer will act like he can prove everything –no sweat. The mediator will believe that. Both will exert pressure on you to “realize” how strong the debt collector’s case is. You will feel lonely and outnumbered. The debt collector’s lawyer feels no risk in this situation –it’s just a job to him—whereas the personal stakes are much higher for you.

What You Must Remember

Through it all, you have to remember, cling tenaciously to the facts that… most debt collections lawyers do not have the evidence they need to win their case and cannot get it cheaply enough to go to trial against you and make money. What have they actually shown you? Can they pull up and show you and the mediator an affidavit from the original creditor that proves that they, the debt collector, actually own the debt, how much it is, that you owe it and didn’t pay? Can they prove that you owe the money? How? Remember that if they want to introduce any account information from the original creditor they’ve got to have either a witness or an affidavit. Can they get it cheaply enough to justify the expense? Not likely! You may have to remind the mediator of these facts—many times.

Don’t Forget Collection Risk

Also, you have to remember their “collection risk.” How likely are they going to be able to collect the money from you? If you didn’t pay (and if you owed) it was probably because you couldn’t afford to pay. Just because they manage to get a judgment, if they do and over your strenuous efforts in court and before, that doesn’t mean, by a long shot, that they’ll get their money.

Your Advantages

Your main tasks in mediation are to remember these facts. AND to remember not to provide them any information or material that could help them get past these problems. If you say you could pay, or if you admit the account was yours…you make their job in court much easier.

Also, remember your advantage: if they have a lawyer or two present, the clock is running, and someone is paying and not very happy about that. Time is on your side in mediation as elsewhere. Remember the Litigation materials and what your advantages are. If you can withstand the fear and temptation to give up, you’ll be in very good shape and can settle (or not) according to what is really in your best interests.

Debt Litigation – Early Stages of Suit

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Why You Can Probably Beat the Debt Collectors

(Even If You Couldn’t Win the Lawsuit!)

If you will stand up for yourself, you can probably make the debt collectors go away even if they could win the suit against you. (Which they usually can’t.)

Why?

Follow the Money

It’s all about money, right? They want to make money. That’s why they’re suing you. If you will defend yourself it becomes too expensive for the company to pursue the litigation against you.

Let’s Do the Math

Consider the question from the point of view of the debt collectors. They buy debt cheaply (very, very cheaply), file sut in large numbers, and win the vast majority of cases without a fight. In St. Louis County, the “call dockets” often have 300-600 defendants, most of whom are being sued by a handful of debt collectors represented by two or three lawyers. If it takes an hour or two for the lawyers to get one hundred judgments totaling (by my guess) approximately $400,000 to $1,000,000 dollars, that’s a pretty good hour’s work.

Now look at the Petition in your lawsuit, down at the last paragraph near the end (where it says “wherefore, plaintiff prays…”). If the company is asking for attorney’s fees against you at all, they’ll usually say so right in the “wherefore clause,” and you may be surprised at how small the number is. In Missouri, the number is typically 15% of what they’re suing you for. If the company is suing you for $5,000, the attorney’s fees might be around $750, but that’s only if they are suing on a contract that allows attorney’s fees. In fact there is often no request for attorney fees at all in the suit.

They ask for the same amount whether or not you fight.

If you don’t fight the case, they get a windfall. If you do fight the case, they usually don’t get any more money even if they win. Instead of hoping for several hundred thousand dollars per hour of work, they’re trying to get $150 per hour-if that. That’s a lot less fun.

And if they are not suing you on a contract that specifically provides for attorney’s fees, they don’t get any fees for fighting no matter how long it takes. Every second you make them spend fighting with you costs them money that they will not get back. Everybody on the other side knows all this, and they never forget it. Neither should you.

What Would You Do…

What would you do if you were a debt collector who was bogged down in a suit for a few hundred (or even thousand) dollars-but which could cost just as much in attorneys fees. And on the other hand you could make a hundred thousand dollars in an hour of work by picking out other people to sue instead? Debt collectors are practical people. If you stand up for yourself in a way that shows them they will have a real fight on their hands, they will usually drop the suit. It isn’t worth it with so many other people around who will not fight.

Isn’t that what you would do?

Three Things the FDCPA Makes Illegal

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a source of many protections against “unfair” debt collection practices. It enumerates many of these practices but leaves room for more general use of the law, too. This article discusses three specific violations as examples of what the law can do.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a source of many protections from ruthless debt collectors for people who owe money. As I often point out, what makes the Act so powerful is that, in addition to making certain specific actions illegal, the FDCPA also more generally makes <i>any unfair, oppressive or deceptive collection practice illegal.</i> At the focus of this article, however, are three specific forms of communication designed to embarrass debtors

Debt Collectors Must Identify Themselves to You

Debt Collectors have particular rules when trying to find you to bug you for money.

Under 15 U.S.C. Section 1692b,  a debt collector looking for a debtor must identify himself  by name but not mention his employer unless specifically requested. He cannot state that the consumer owes any debt, and he cannot communicate more than once with any person unless requested to do so or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of that person was erroneous or incomplete, and the person now has correct or complete location information.

This portion of the law was obviously intended to end the practice of collectors harassing and annoying the people around the debtor for purposes of damaging relationships and creating social pressure on the debtor.

Debt Collectors Cannot Communicate at Unreasonable Hours

Collectors are not allowed to communicate with consumers <i>“at any unusual time or place”</i> or at a time or place known to be inconvenient to the consumer. Unless the debt collector actually knows that the consumer has unusual hours, he cannot call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., local time of the consumer. 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1692c(a).

If you are being contacted at work, therefore, you should tell the collector that this is “an inconvenient time and place” for communications. It is also specifically illegal for a collector to call at place of work if he knows or has reason to know that the employer prohibits the consumer from receiving personal communications. If you work on a late shift, you should tell the debt collector what hours are inconvenient to you. It obviously makes sense to communicate with the debt collector in writing,  although the law doesn’t require it, and to make records of any communication that comes outside of the specified hours.

Debt Collectors Cannot Communicate with Third Parties Except under Limited Circumstances

Collectors are not allowed to talk to other people in connection with their collection efforts other than as specifically allowed (regarding finding you) unless you give your prior consent, or unless a court gives that permission. However, they are permitted to talk to your attorney, a consumer reporting agency, and the creditor and its attorney. The big exception involves “post-judgment judicial remedies.” If the debt collector obtains a judgment, it may seek garnishment of wages or bank accounts, and it is permitted efforts that are “reasonably necessary” to obtain these remedies. 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1692c(b).

I believe this section prevents debt collectors from harassing people who refuse to give them information about your whereabouts or to cooperate in other ways. Again, the prohibition exists to prevent the wanton damage of a consumer’s relationships with other people.

Your Right to Sue Under the FDCPA

If debt collectors are engaging in any of the above-mentioned prohibited acts, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and you can either sue them for it or, if they have filed suit against you, make a counterclaim against them.

 

Why you Need us if you’re Being Sued for Debt

If you’re being sued or threatened with suit, the first thing you will have thought about was getting a lawyer. Probably the second thing you thought was that you could not afford one. Lawyers don’t all charge the same, or even the same way, but they are all expensive.

What Lawyers Charge

A lawyer with experience, in a medium to large city, will aim to make at least $100 to $300 per hour. It seems impossible, but it’s true, and that will translate into:

  • A flat charge of $1,000 to $1,500 for defending your suit;
  • $1,000 or more in retainer plus a contingent rate; or
  • An hourly rate of $150 per hour.
  • Or some variation essentially equaling the same thing.

Now, not all lawyers will charge that much, but most will – or as much as they can.

What makes it even worse is that very few lawyers are very familiar with the laws involved in defending you. That means they either have to charge you their rates while they learn what to do, eat the costs of learning what they’re doing, or NOT learn what they’re doing. And all of these things have obvious problems for a person needing a lawyer.

So it’s hard to afford a lawyer.

It’s Hard to Find a Lawyer in Debt Law

It’s also hard just to find one who does this kind of law. Many of our members have reported that they could not find a lawyer who would take their case at any price. And there aren’t many lawyers who do. Most big cities have a few – it’s hit and miss in small communities. That’s because people can’t afford them for this kind of law, considering what they have to charge, and because most lawyers haven’t actually heard of most of the laws involved – debt defense is NOT standard teaching in law schools.

Lawyers who DO know about debt law know that, if they represent you, they’ll be taking on a case against a lawyer who handles dozens, perhaps hundreds or thousands of these cases at a time, with a staff, documents, and network to support all that. It’s a tough job. It can be done, but the math isn’t real great, so not many lawyers handle debt law defense.

You Can Do it Yourself

Luckily, you don’t have to have a lawyer for debt defense. In fact, it may even be an advantage to represent yourself. And while it may seem scary, you’ll see that it really isn’t very. Let me explain.

The Number One Reason Most People Don’t Defend themselves

The biggest reason people don’t defend themselves is fear – they’re afraid of having to show up in court, stand up and talk to the judge, talk to a jury… etc.

In fact, most cases of every type never go to trial. Very few do – less than five out of a hundred, perhaps much less than that. If yours DOES go to trial, and for every appearance before a judge, you will be fully prepared. You’ll know much more than the lawyer on the other side – and you’ll know you know, and so, eventually, will the judge. There are a couple of reasons this is so.

Debt Law is Factory Law

America is drowning in debt, and debt cases are filed by the truckload.  That means a few things to you.

First, it means that the people filing the suit know very little about the cases before they file them – they just don’t have time. If you talk to the lawyer before a court date, you’ll see someone utterly confident that they’ll win – without having a clue about anything having to do with your case. The lawyer probably will have never even looked at your case.

Second, it means that the companies need to keep lawyer time invested in cases to an absolute minimum. As I say, the lawyers never worry about losing your case – they worry about spending time on it.  So they will conduct discovery or other pretrial preparations, if at all, in a standardized way, and they will respond to you in a standardized way. That means you can foresee what they will say and prepare (which we help you do). And it means you can disrupt them if you do things they don’t foresee, and we help with that, too.

Given all that, it means, thirdly, that most debt plaintiffs’ lawyers are not particularly gifted lawyers. They spend all day, every day, doing the equivalent of a bully walking up and down a beach kicking sand on everybody that’s smaller them. That isn’t exactly great conditioning for legal thinking, and most good lawyers regard it as a waste of their talent and don’t want to do it. That means there will be a good chance you’re at least as smart as the lawyer you will see in this case. And you should be a heck of a lot more motivated.

With our help, you will be more knowledgeable, too. The best way to get that help is by joining us as a member.