General Question

gambitking's avatar

Any Lawyers out there? What can I do about this collector's lawsuit?

Asked by gambitking (4151 points ) January 28th, 2013

My wife was served a court summons for an outstanding debt from a collection agency. No correspondence was sent by the agency before this summons, although she did recognize the original creditor on the paper work. She immediately made a settlement arrangement over the phone, and sent them the first payment electronically that same day. It’s been almost two weeks, and the agency has not filed this settlement with the court yet. We have asked them to do this but they still haven’t. We only have a week left before the court date. What can we do?

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6 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

There was a similar Q about this a little while ago and most people seemed to think that not going to court is admitting you owe the bill and will get charged court and filing fees, so the general consesus was that you need to show up.

Personally, I was in this situation several years ago and we did the same thing you did, make the payment and monthly arrangements, and just as everyone said, a judgement was entered in our area so until it’s paid, we are liable for all costs associated with it. And it was about $1k more than the creditor’s total with interest and court fees.

Pachy's avatar

Experience taught me the hard way not to deal directly with any collection agency. They’re in business to make money, period, and they’ll say anything, do anything to pressure you into giving it to them.

diavolobella's avatar

I used to work for a credit card collections law firm. What would generally happen is that our attorney would “non-suit” (dismiss) the case in person on the day of the hearing, especially if it was coming up relatively soon. Filing the settlement agreement with the court via mail can often result in delays because of lag time at the Clerk’s office, problems with mail delivery and/or human error. Therefore, it is usually more efficient and reliable for the attorney to non-suit the case in person at the hearing. It would still be advisable for you to show up at court, just to make sure that nothing goes wrong, that the settlement agreement is filed with the court and the case is dismissed. You are responsible for protecting your rights in this situation and should be present to ensure the agreement that is filed with the court accurately reflects the terms you have agreed to.

gambitking's avatar

@diavolobella: I should note our court accepts filings via email

Thanks guys who helped so far,

Quick Follow up Question : My wife was served the summons, her name appears on it, but so does mine (although I never got any summons). So would it be okay if she just went by herself?

diavolobella's avatar

@gambitking I think it’s fine if she goes on her own, especially if the debt was acquired during the marriage, which makes it a marital (joint) debt. One of you can appear on behalf of both. As long as someone has agreed to pay the settlement I highly doubt they would be that particular anyway. They may not have filed the settlement agreement via email or otherwise because it requires a signature from one of you. If you made the agreement over the phone I’m assuming you haven’t signed anything and that might be what is holding things up. More reason to appear in court in case a signature is required by the judge.

muhammajelly's avatar

a) Go to court—no matter what.
b) Read up on fair debt collection practice act and if they have already violated any term wait until 72-hours before the hearing and coutersue them. They might drop the debt in exchange for you dropping your lawsuit.
c) If they don’t drop the case on the day of the hearing and they have not violated your rights you might be able to settle for 50% of the outstanding balance on the spot provided they drop the suit.
d) B, C don’t work ask for a continuance to obtain legal council.
e) It is a long shot but make sure this is not “ghost-debt”
f) Also a long shot is checking for document where they agreed to arbitrate first.
g) Make them prove everything such as that they are authorized to represent the debt collection company, that the debt collection company is licensed to do business in your state, etc.

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