I’ve Been Sued By A Debt Buyer – What Should I Do?
I’ve Been Sued By A Debt Buyer – What Should I Do (Updated December 2019)?
[Updated May 2021] Being sued in Alabama by a debt buyer (Asset Acceptance, LVNV Funding, Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Unifund, etc) is a frightening thing – particularly when it is by some debt collector that you have never heard of before the suit.
So what do you do now? Because you know if you do nothing, bad things will happen including getting a default judgment against you.
Here are four steps you can take as soon as you are sued by a debt buyer.
The first thing to do is understand your five options when you’re sued by a debt buyer.
You have the option (rarely needed) of bankruptcy, two do-it-yourself options, and two options involving hiring a lawyer. You can go to this page and watch the comprehensive video or read the transcript of your five options — it is worth your time to do this.
Second, keep in mind that the debt buyer has sued you and therefore bears the burden of proof.
Just because you have been sued does not mean you will lose – instead the debt buyer must prove that you owe money to the debt buyer, not just to the original creditor (Capital One, Bank of America, Chase, etc). It must show it OWNS the debt.
Here’s a silly example.
Do you owe money on your house? I bet you do. So will you pay it to me?
I doubt it!
Just because you owe your mortgage company money does NOT mean you owe your money to me or anyone else other than your mortgage company.
Same with debt buyers.
You may owe the original creditor but that is a different question than whether you owe this debt collector.
So always remember the difference in you owing a debt and the one suing you owning the debt.
Third, you have 14 days from when you were served to answer the lawsuit in Alabama District Court (or Small Claims) and 30 days in Alabama Circuit Court to answer from when you were served.
District Court is the same — 14 days from the date of service.
If you have questions about service — and whether you have been served — call us.
(In our over two hour video on answering questions about being sued we cover a lot on service).
Keeping in mind those deadlines, you normally have time to think and research before you need to make a decision. Most folks in Alabama never do anything and so they lose — but you won’t do this, right? You’ll make sure and take action in time so you do not get a default judgment.
Fourth, bankruptcy is a valid option to consider but it normally is not your only option.
So many Alabama consumers file bankruptcy when they could have won the bogus debt buyer lawsuit. You probably have received a number of letters from bankruptcy attorneys – certainly, look at the information they send you so you can decide if that is a good option but always consider the option of fighting the debt buyer lawsuit. And we cover bankruptcy in the five options when sued video and transcript.
This leads us to the final point.
You should not receive any more letters or calls from this debt buyer or any other collector related to this debt.
Your credit report should be cleared of the debt buyer’s account that is related to the lawsuit. This is because you do not owe the debt to the debt buyer. So how can the debt buyer or the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union — report you as owing this debt? They can’t!
Make sure and pull your credit reports here for free — https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action and save your reports from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union to PDF so you can study what exactly is being reported about you.
And you may be able to sue (for money damages) the debt buyer for filing a bogus suit and other false debt collection actions against you — and this all comes about because you won your debt buyer collection lawsuit.
So, being sued is certainly no fun.
But you have an opportunity to investigate your options and potentially turn a negative thing (being sued) into a positive result for you.
We represent folks all over the state of Alabama so it does not matter where you live — we can help you.
Or you can call us at 1-205-879-2447 and we can set up a meeting by phone or video chat (or in person if you prefer) to answer your questions about the lawsuit. You’ll leave that meeting knowing your options and having great clarity about what you need to do next…
I look forward to talking to you!
Have a great day.
PS — We have handled hundreds and hundreds of cases over many years against all the debt buyers in Alabama. Most debt buyer lawsuits are filed by Midland (Midland Credit Management or Midland Funding), LVNV Funding, and Portfolio Recovery Associates. You can be successful and never pay these debt collectors a penny. They are counting on you being scared and giving up. If you will learn about your rights and options, you take away a great advantage of theirs. They want you to be ignorant of your rights.
So learn your rights. And then take massive action to get to a better place after being sued.
We’ll be glad to help you do both of these.