Default Judgment In Collection Lawsuit — What If You Really Don’t Owe It?

Default Judgment In Collection Lawsuit — What If You Really Don’t Owe It?

default judgmentIt is a tragedy when I meet with Alabama consumers who are convinced (and who convince me) that they do not owe a debt that they have been sued on but a default judgment was entered against them.

There are limited time periods to challenge a default judgment.

If you go past those time periods, then it is too late.

Even if you don’t owe the debt.

I have sat with people that I explain this to and they keep reaching for their stack of papers to prove to me that they don’t owe the debt.

“Here are the papers where I paid off the debt.”

“That credit card company sued me and I didn’t even owe the debt.  Surely you can do something?”

“Mr. Watts, what you are telling me is that there is no justice and any credit card company can sue any working man and the working man will lose.”

I have to go back to the issue — there are time limits to answer.

There are time limits to challenge a default judgment.

There are time limits to appeal if a judge won’t set aside a default judgment when the judge should set it aside.

Once you are past those time limits, there is nothing that can be done.

Here are the typical reactions:

“I want to go to federal court to fix this travesty of justice.”

Sorry, a federal judge can’t undo a state court judgment.

“I’ll appeal to the consumer protection agency.”

Sorry, a governmental agency can’t override a judge’s decision.

“I’ll sue the collection lawyer for bringing the suit.”

Sorry, it must not have been wrong (even if it was) if the judge ruled you owed the debt.

I hate these kinds of meetings where I can’t help people but sometimes that is the case.

The solution is to be serious when you’re sued. 

Don’t decide that reading a few message boards means you know the law.

If you represent yourself, understand you are held to the standard of a lawyer who goes to trial.

The judge can’t give you advice.

The clerk’s office can’t give you advice.

Understand how serious a judgment is.

It makes 12% interest a year.

Your bank accounts and wages can be garnished, and can even your property to be sold at a sheriff’s sale.

Yes, this means even your home.

Take action immediately.

Take action now to find out your rights.

Do not let a default judgement be entered against you.

Especially if you don’t owe the debt.

As unpleasant as it is for me at those types of meetings, I know the consumers feel infinitely worse.

Contact Us.

Take action today.

Get with a lawyer who does this type of work, and spare yourself some of the heartache described in this article.

You can call us at 205-879-2447 if you live in Alabama and have questions about your particular situation.

Or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible. 

I look forward to chatting with you.

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts


  1. Aaron /Alabama says:

    In June 2003, I lost my job. I was out of work until Oct. 2004. during that time I fell behind my payments. (except home). During the next two or three years I settled all of the debts except one, Providian. I never received a bill or contact from them. Honestly.

    In 2012, my wife lost her job, so again we fell behind our obligations. We tried to apply for HARP to lower our house payments, we found out there was a judgment lien placed against our home. It was placed on our home in 2007.

    Well, we lost our home in foreclosure. It was finalized two years ago, completely paid in full. Now I am starting to received bills on that Providian account again from Stellar Recovery.

    Is the judgement lien still valid or are they trying to start over again? Does the SOL still apply?

    • John Watts says:


      It sounds like there was a judgment against you in 2007. The critical question is “Were you served?” The court records will show how you were supposedly served. Could be by certified mail, being handed the papers personally, the lawsuit papers handed to your wife, etc.

      That’s the starting point.

      If you were served, then the judgment will be valid. The statute of limitation (SOL) only applies to suing you. Not collecting on a judgment.

      BUT if you were NOT served, then the judgment can be attacked.

      If you can show you were not served (and we can talk you through this), then the judgment can be set aside. The lawsuit is still there but the Plaintiff (whoever sued you) is going to have to show that you owe the money and owe them. I don’t know if it was Providian or Chase who sued you or if a debt buyer. I would guess a debt buyer.

      Here are some thoughts for you on showing that you were not served:

      1. Find out the date of the alleged service.
      2. Then the location of the alleged service.
      3. See if you were in that location on the date. For example, it shows you being served at 123 Main Street on 1-1-07 but you had moved from 123 Main Street in 2005. And you were out of town on business over New Years day on 2007. Or you were in the hospital, etc.
      4. Find any evidence to support that you were not served — receipts, calendars, leases/mortgages, etc.

      We can talk about this to make it make more sense — usually there is a way to show that it was impossible to be served. Or we just had one where the certified mail said un-deliverable but the court still entered a judgment.

      Now as far as the foreclosure — that likely paid the judgment but perhaps it did not. If it paid it, then there is nothing to collect by Stellar Recovery.

      If it did not pay, then we need to figure out if we can attack the judgment.

      I believe you live in Alabama (all the above is based on Alabama law) — here is my suggestion:

      **Call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she can look up the lawsuit (helpful if you have a case number but even if not she can find it). She’ll see if it is on the computer records about the service date/etc.

      **She’ll set us up a phone call and we can go over your options and the pros/cons of each option.

      **Send us any bills or collection notices from anyone related to this — including Stellar Recovery.

      **Pull your credit reports ( and save your reports to PDF and send to us. We want to see if anyone is reporting the debt or pulling your credit reports related to the debt. And if the judgment is showing up on your reports. Save the entire reports and send to us — we’ll look through them with you.

      So give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be happy to help you.

      Talk soon.

      John Watts

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