What you should do if you’re worried about bills or debt collectors – real help for real people
In this article we’re briefly going to jump right in – actually all the way in – to the topic of debt collection. That’s because I want you to know, in a solid, specific way, why you have such a good chance to win if you get sued by a debt collector. You’ll see that by the time we finish this video.
There’s much more to learn, of course, and we’re even going to go back and fill in a few of the gaps from today’s discussion, but for now I want to show you that defending yourself from debt collectors isn’t – and doesn’t need to be – magical in any way. There are no secret methods here, no weird or bizarre tricks like writing things at angles or declaring that your mother sold you into slavery when she signed your birth certificate. There’s just knowing who the debt collectors are and how they operate, and knowing what to do about that in court.
Anybody can do it. Really. And if you do it, you will probably win your case.
Now before I get started, I want to tell you a little bit about lawyer-speak. I do that sometimes, and I want you to know how to take it. For example, I said above that if you understand what I’m about to tell you and do it right, you will “probably” win your case. Against almost all debt collectors and except in rare situations, I mean that you absolutely should win your case. But… nothing in legal life is guaranteed. It’s drilled into us in law school and later in practice that unexpected things happen, and people do wrong – they don’t know something, pay attention, or care sometimes when they should. That stuff happens, we all know it does, and it’s why I say things like “probably” when other people might sound more certain. I have a habit of speaking more precisely. Marketing and advertising is usually the opposite of that. So don’t worry – I wouldn’t tell you stuff if I didn’t think the chances were overwhelming that it would do you good. See that? I did it again! And I’ll probably do it all through these videos and articles. Don’t worry about that.
Okay, so you didn’t know it, but we were talking about what’s called the “Rule against Hearsay.”
That’s what’s called a “rule of evidence.” Rules of evidence control what a court is allowed to consider in rendering its decision. In debt collection cases, this is absolutely critical. I estimate that fully 95% or more of every debt collection case that actually goes to trial or is resolved on motion for summary judgment, will be determined by the way the rules of evidence are applied.
We’ll go into this in more detail later. For now, I want you to understand that courts are allowed to consider only evidence given under oath in court – unless there’s a specific rule that would allow something else to be considered. Think about it – among other things, that means that business records are not allowed – because they’re not evidence given under oath in court – unless there’s a specific rule that would allow them in.
The rule that debt collectors use is the “business records exception” (to the rule against hearsay). That rule is slightly different in different places, but it always requires someone who is familiar with the way records are kept to testify to certain specific things. And DEBT COLLECTORS ALMOST NEVER CAN TESTIFY TO THE WAY RECORDS WERE KEPT BY THE ORIGINAL CREDITORS. That means that if you object and know what to say, the debt collectors can virtually never get their most important evidence in front of the court. They must lose their case then, and you must win.
We’ll talk more about the specifics later, but bear in mind that debt collectors buy vast quantities of debt at a time, and they so rarely need effective affidavits from the original creditors that they really essentially never get them. They probably won’t have them in your case, and won’t be able to get them, either. If you know how to object and (1) invoke the rule against hearsay and (2) point out their inability to follow the business records exception, you should be able to win your case.
Sometimes judges aren’t ready to listen to you, and we’ll talk about that in a later video, too. But for now: learn how to use the rule against hearsay, and you should win your case. No magic. Just the rules of evidences as they SHOULD be applied.