Can A Collection Agency Sue Me In The State Of Alabama?

Can A Collection Agency Sue Me In Alabama?

Collection agency suing in Alabama

Question: Can a collection agency sue you in Alabama?

We often talk about debt collectors suing Alabama consumers but to be precisely correct, a collection agency that does not own the debt cannot sue you in Alabama.  A collection agency must own the debt to sue you in Alabama.

“Debt collector” means a collection agency which collects a debt for someone else; it means a debt buyer who claims to have bought the debt; and a collection law firm which is a law firm that collects or files suit on debt.

Alabama law requires that the company actually suing you — the Plaintiff — own the debt.

Sometimes we have seen companies sue when they do not actually even claim to own the debt.  For example, Cavalry or Unifund have sued but admit that a related entity actually (allegedly) owns the debt.

This is not proper.

A collection agency or a company which merely “services” the debt (for example Midland Credit Management) can certainly collect on a debt but it cannot file suit in its own name.

This is why, for example, that Midland Funding, LLC files suit in Alabama and not the collection arm of Midland Credit Management.

So when a collection agency threatens to sue you, it is wise to ask “Who will sue me?  You or someone else?”

If the collection agency says it will sue you, and it does not own the debt, this is often a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The reason is the collection agency is lying to you and threatening to do something that it is not legally able to do.

Both of these are serious violations of the FDCPA and may entitle you to money damages.

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama and want to know more about your rights, fill out our contact form.

You can also call us at 205-879-2447 for a free consultation.

We will be glad to help you figure out your best course of action.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

-John G. Watts


  1. Donovan Peters says:

    I just got a small claims summons from LVNV Funding on behalf of Capital One. The amount due is $992.79. When I opened the account the credit limit was $200. I opened a capital one account in 2006 or 2007. I reported the card lost and they supposedly cancelled the card I didnt ask for a replacement. I thought that was the end of it until now. I need help I do not know how to respond to this summons.

    • John Watts says:


      The most important thing is to make sure and not let the time to answer expire — this will lead to a default judgment. LVNV buys old debt — sometimes debt that is from last century.

      If you haven’t contacted us yet feel free to do so and we wish you the best.

      John Watts

  2. Beverly says:

    I received a forwarded voicemail from a company stating:
    “This message is intended for the manager of Mrs. Beverly xxxx. My name is Lynn Taylor, and I’m contacting regarding the order that was submitted to my office this morning, and I will be verifying your company’s protocol for presenting a formal claim on the premises. Okay, your employee Mrs. Beverly xxxx does have charges against her, and at this point I’m trying to give her the opportunity to contact the firm that’s handling her claim in order to discuss this with them; Um, really to change the address to something more private. That way I don’t have to enter the premises, disrupt your workflow at all. Um, but she’ll need to do this immediately. Okay, so I’m going to leave you with the number to the firm, as well as the claim number listed on the order and she will need to contact them immediately. The number is 855-433-1913 with a claim number on the order here as 186328. Beverly xxxx, you have been officially notified.”

    • John Watts says:


      This is an illegal voicemail.

      Sounds like a scam debt collector calling on a pay day or online loan (Western Skies, etc).

      The challenge is figuring out who the company is to see if we can sue them.

      But as far as dealing with this — what I have found is the best approach is to ask them to send you proof in writing in the mail — NOT email and NOT fax. A real letter through the United States Postal Service.

      The scam places go crazy when you do this because they are not willing to send fraudulent documents through the mail as there can be bad criminal consequences for them.

      This has always made them go away — maybe there is one last day they call and threaten but then they move on to someone else that they try and cheat out of money.

      If you would like some more information and if you live in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 as there is a credit report we would like you to pull that the payday/online lenders report to that these scam collectors illegally pull from. This is normally how they get your information and we believe it is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

      John Watts

  3. shaye says:

    Because of extreme martial problems/issue that resulted in my household income being cut by 2/3 my credit cards suffered badly. I had to take care of my children, house and car first. I was in the process of working out a settlement with GE capital for GAP VISA in Jan 2014. I told them as soon as I received my tax money I could settle the account that they offered for 40%. Org balance was 1750 and they offered about $700 settlement. I called back 3 weeks later with the money and found they had charged off the account about a week after I had told them I would settle but had to wait until I had the money. There was no way I could come up the the cash until my taxes. They said they sold the account to Midland/Encor credit and gave me the number. I called and they will not settle …they want the full amount. I tried to talk to them but they refused. I have not received ANY paperwork regarding the transfer or selling of my account. WHAT do I do next? Does Midland have to send me something in writing before they sue or do I need to keep calling them?

    • John Watts says:


      Midland (or any collection agency) does not have to settle with you or send you paperwork regarding any type of transfer of the account. This is different in the world of mortgages.

      BUT — if Midland sues you it must prove it owns the debt — something we have not seen Midland do.

      You can always dispute the debt with Midland — after all, how do you KNOW Midland owns the debt? There is no way for you to know this as they won’t even give the proof to their own lawyers it seems!

      So, it does not always make sense, but normally sending this letter is a good start.

      I’ll be glad to talk to you — my office can set up a phone or in person or video call — just let us know if you would like to do this. We can only represent folks in Alabama so if you live elsewhere I can help you find a lawyer in your state. But if you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts
      Birmingham, Alabama

  4. Stephanie G says:

    I received a letter from Midland yesterday stating that I owe them 11,241.33 and my due date is 10-12-2014. They said that they have made several attempts to contact me, and the letter was to inform me that they are considering forwarding the account to an attorney in my state for possible litigation, then they went on to say that if they do not hear from me or receive payment by 10-12-2014, they may proceed with forwarding the account to an attorney.

    The letter went on to say, in order to stop the process from continuing that I should 1) Mail in $750and call to set up the remaining payment or 2) call them to see how to qualify for discounts and affordable payment plans.

    On the back of the letter it states that they Midland Funding LLC as the owners, and Citibank(South Dakota), N.A. as the original creditors.

    I don’t remember owing that much to Citi. I don’t owe anything to Midland. I think that I owed about 7 or 8 thousand dollars to Citi. Citi closed the account for some reason that I don’t remember because it was in 2009. I continued to make payments, but in June of 2010 they stopped accepting my payments online and I fell behind. I was trying to find another easy way to make payments to them, but in the process my work hours were dropped to a very low number, and I wasn’t able to make any payments. I am not sure ifthis is the same account, and if it is I was wondering if this is the same account, if the statue of limitations has past, and if not I am not sure what to do about this, if it is the same account because I am still only get between 15 to 27 hours a week.

  5. James cofer says:

    A officer came to my door with a summons for civil..I don’t know what it is about but I did not sign for it..All debts I owe are over 5 years ago .Can they still sue

    • John Watts says:


      If you are not in Alabama I have no idea — you’ll need to speak with a lawyer in your state. But assuming you are in Alabama, they can still sue you. Now you may have a good statute of limitations defense (that defense says the collector took too long to sue you) and you will likely have other defenses.

      Critical to make sure you do not miss your time limits on answering the lawsuit.

      Call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she can look up your Alabama collection lawsuit and then we can give you some options.

      Talk to you soon.

      John Watts

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