Being chased by debt collectors is never a pleasant experience, even if you can honestly say that you’ve got yourself into something of a financial mess. It might be time to seek debt relief or speak to a credit counselor, which is stressful enough in its own right. But what if the money you allegedly owe is for a debt you’ve never heard of? Worse still, what if the debt collector files a debt collection lawsuit to pursue what they believe is rightfully theirs?
Fortunately, lawsuits can be defended, especially when you have support from a skilled and experienced law firm. It is fair to say that you have nothing to worry about if you’ve done nothing wrong. However, claiming ignorance is never the best course of action. Indeed, if you find yourself wondering, “What should I do if I am sued for a debt that isn’t mine?” then the most important piece of advice is to take action.
If a debt collector or even the original creditor is willing to seek a court order to encourage you to pay back what you owe, they mean business. It might take weeks, months, or even years in some cases, but they won’t go away without reason to do so.
If you have disputed the debt with a company, put your side in writing, and have sent it to them through certified mail, and they still persist, you should speak to a malicious prosecution lawyer from Bell Law, LLC.
Facing a Debt Collection Lawsuit? Call Bell Law, LLC
Whether your disputes are getting you nowhere or you’re unsure of your best course of action, notification of an impending lawsuit suggests that you need a robust legal defense. What you do next will vary depending on the nature of the debt and what the debt collector has done so far to collect it. Fortunately, the Bell Law team is on hand and on your side to ensure creditors don’t take advantage of you.
Once again, we urge you not to ignore a potential lawsuit. If you decide not to respond, you might be on the wrong end of a default judgment. By opting not to defend yourself, a judge may interpret that as a sign of guilt and find in favor of debt collectors automatically.
Once that judgment is made, everything becomes more complex. While you won’t face jail time in cases like this, paying back the debt becomes only part of the problem. A lender, such as a credit card company or the debt collector working on their behalf, may gain the right to seize property or garnish your wages before they even reach your bank account.
No person should have to go through this on collection accounts that have never belonged to them. We will help you make sense of the chaos, help ensure you no longer have any legal obligation to pay the debt collector, and help you put things right on your credit report.
Once again, the most important thing is to act. New clients at our firm benefit from a free, no-obligation consultation. That means whether you’re unsure, need support, or are ready to file a counterclaim, our lawyers are standing by to help.
Call our team now to relieve the pressure and make sense of a frivolous debt collection lawsuit at 816-281-0649.
The Importance of Taking Action
If you receive a letter or other communication from a debt collector and are confident the debt has nothing to do with you, it can be tempting to ignore it. However, collection agencies do not target people at random.
A legitimate debt collector will have reason to believe you owe the debt they contacted you about. Even debt collectors that may operate in more of a grey area will not invent debts to chase. They will have some kind of motive for contacting you specifically, even if their best bet is getting you to make a payment to get them to go away.
Do nothing and nothing changes. The debt collector will continue to believe that they have a valid case. As long as the debt can be perceived as legally valid, such as sitting within the statute of limitations, they may continue to act increasingly aggressively to recover the full debt amount.
Ultimately, it may reach a point where the debt collector sues for the outstanding balance. Addressed early, and possibly with legal help, it does not necessarily have to reach this point. However, debt collection lawsuits can be complex and time-consuming, not to mention massively frustrating if you remain convinced that the debt has nothing to do with you.
What Happens if You Ignore Debt Collectors?
Assuming the debt collector acts in good faith, they will typically attempt to work with you to handle the outstanding debt. This might mean setting up monthly payments, arranging a reduced debt settlement, or otherwise reaching an agreement with the collection agency.
Failure to do so might lead to legal action. A defense of ignoring communications because the debt collector must have made a mistake is not necessarily as watertight as you might think. Worse still, ignoring the court process could result in a default judgment in your absence.
This could further harm your financial situation, such as through wage garnishment or potentially even a third-party debt collector and the court requiring the alleged borrower to file bankruptcy.
Immediate Steps When Contacted by a Debt Collector Over an Incorrect Debt
Unfortunately, cases such as these are rarely resolved with a quick phone call. Speaking to a debt collection agency after receiving a letter, claiming to have no knowledge of the debt, and expecting them to concede that it must be their mistake is unrealistic.
It could be deemed unfair to build a defense and gather evidence around something you had no knowledge of, but some initial work at the earliest opportunity can pay dividends further down the line.
Gather Your Identification Documents
One of the first priorities when facing a debt collection lawsuit involves ensuring you have all the necessary documentation to hand to provide proof of your identity. Identity theft is one of the main causes of private citizens being chased for debts that are not theirs. Government-issued ID and proof of your social security number can quickly and easily identify discrepancies between the debt validation letter and reality.
Pull Together Anything That May Be Used as Evidence
No matter how you have engaged with a debt collection company, try to keep evidence of everything that has happened and every communication you have received down to the finest detail. For example, even text messages asking you to call them or a return receipt for an email making your case can help a case massively.
Naturally, if there is anything particularly pertinent to a defense, such as proof of money paid out already, then it’s vital to make such evidence available. Particularly unscrupulous debt collectors might even flout the law to encourage you to respond, such as by threatening harm.
If you feel any documentation could help you fight the case, keep it handy. Your attorney can help decide what to use in court should you reach that stage.
Consult an Attorney
When you speak to a specialist attorney, you immediately have more control over handling the dispute. As noted, it typically takes more than a verbal or written denial of the debt to avert a lawsuit. A Bell Law attorney will help you understand your options and advise on your legal right to defend yourself against any accusations.
They will draw on vast experience in similar cases to ensure that when you dispute the debt, you do so on a sound legal basis and can identify any unfair practices or other rules the debt collector violated in their pursuit of the debt.
Contact Credit Reference Agencies
Whether acting maliciously or merely mistakenly, they will likely provide regular updates to credit reporting companies when a debt collector pursues an unpaid debt. Anything with a direct financial impact, such as credit card debt or an unpaid overdraft on a bank account, can impact your ability to gain legitimate credit in the future.
Your attorney will help in dealing with these agencies to ensure your credit report is not unfairly impacted by a debt that doesn’t belong to you and, as such, should not be used to determine your future creditworthiness.
Responding to Legal Action Over a Debt That Isn’t Yours
With your evidence and documentation organized, you can be confident of successfully fighting the lawsuit in court. Likewise, once you have appointed an attorney, they can use that documentation to prove you do not owe the debt and can work on a potential counterclaim.
Your Attorney Will Guide You
You will not find attorneys that speak to you on the phone, and then you never see them again until your court date at Bell Law. We take great pride in providing the personal touch and will guide you in every aspect of fighting the case leading up to a potential hearing.
That means that no matter whether the debt collection business doubles down on its efforts or things change materially, you will always have someone on hand to ensure your rights are respected and have the strongest possible case.
Consider Debt Collection Laws
Whether a debt collection lawsuit is legitimate or frivolous, every person in the United States has a certain degree of protection against those chasing collection accounts. For example, as a private citizen, you’re protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Breaches of either act can spell failure for a debt collector, no matter how strong a case they believe they have. Your Bell Law attorney will be able to provide context on this, demonstrating how your case and the other party’s actions fall into the respective legal frameworks.
Obtain a Debt Validation Letter
One element of the FDCPA that anyone being sued over a debt that isn’t theirs should be aware of is their right to request validation of the alleged debt they owe. It is a formal request of proof that the debt belongs to you, and anyone from a debt collector to a credit card company is legally compelled to respond.
If you have not already requested this evidence by this point, or your request has been refused, your case could become far simpler. If the party that launched the lawsuit cannot provide this evidence, there is a strong possibility that the lawsuit will be dismissed.
File a Response
When you have gathered evidence and agreed on an action plan with your attorney, it is time to file a response with the court. Every case is different, and your response may consist of a number of different actions. You might request that the lawsuit is dismissed, or there may even be ground to lodge a counterclaim.
Once again, your attorney will advise on the best course of action and can help ensure that everyone is kept updated on your response, including the court, creditors, and their attorneys.
Prepare to Potentially Face the Debt Collection Agency in Court
In an ideal scenario, each case involving lawsuits for debts that are not yours would be cut, dried, and settled before there is any need to enter the courtroom. However, it does not always work out this way.
Your lawyer will keep you informed of the proceedings and will be by your side in the courtroom should it come to this. Remember, a successful defense is all about taking action, so make sure you can be available for each hearing. If you instruct your legal representative to request rescheduling, you may be able to find a more suitable time. However, this is not always the case, and flexibility is key in avoiding a default judgment.
Speak to a Bell Law Attorney About Malicious Prosecution Today
It can be difficult to process the idea of acting as a defendant in a lawsuit over something that has nothing to do with you. Fortunately, you have the truth on your side. In conjunction with a Bell Law attorney, you can always ensure that frivolous action has no effect on you, your credit report, or your overall financial position.
If a creditor has notified you of a potential lawsuit, you must remember that it will not go away on its own. That makes it vital to take action now, and when you decide to fight back, our team is here to help ensure the law is on your side.
Working with us could not be simpler, and the initial call is completely free. Reach out to us today to find out exactly how we can make your life easier and ensure you remain on sound financial footing.
Call our team now for a free, no-obligation consultation at 816-281-0649.