Contacted By The Collection Law-Firm of Zarzaur & Schwartz [Updated Aug 2020]

Contacted By The Collection Law-Firm of Zarzaur & Schwartz In Alabama — What Should You Do?

Contacted By The Collection Law-Firm of Zarzaur & Schwartz (Cunningham) In Alabama -- What Should You Do?You are here because you have received a letter, or a debt collection lawsuit, from the debt collection lawfirm of Zarzaur & Schwartz in Birmingham, Alabama, which files lawsuits for original creditors (Citibank, etc) and debt buyers (Cavalry, LVNV Funding, Midland Funding, Unifund Partners, etc).

Let’s talk first about some myths and then some practical steps that you should take.

First Myth — Zarzaur & Schwartz Cannot Sue Me

Wrong.  Zarzaur & Schwartz is a real lawfirm in Birmingham, Alabama.

It files a tremendous number of lawsuits in Alabama — probably the most or second most that any lawfirm files in Alabama.  Most days it is filing 30-100 lawsuits.  A day.

Yes there are some bogus places that claim to be lawfirms and really are not.

However, Zarzaur & Schwartz is not one of those places.

If you get a letter from Zarzaur, a lawsuit is very likely to be coming if you don’t resolve the case with them.

That may or may not be a bad thing as if you win your lawsuit, good consequences come to you but you should make decisions with your eyes wide open and understand Zarzaur does file lawsuits.

Second Myth — Zarzaur & Schwartz Claims To Have Bought The Debt

Some collection lawfirms have debt buying companies that the lawfirm partners own.

To my knowledge Zarzaur does not do this.

There is sometimes confusion because the lawsuit is filed in the name of the “Plaintiff” –whether this is Citibank or Midland Funding, etc. but it is filed by the lawfirm.

This is how all lawsuits work — the plaintiff is different from the lawfirm filing the case.

So don’t be misled by false information on the internet — just because a lawfirm like Zarzaur sues you does not mean that it claims to own the debt.

I have never seen the firm claim this — instead the firm is hired by the plaintiff to sue you.

Third Myth — Zarzaur Won’t Show Up To Trial

I want to make sure and be particularly clear about this point.

We have to separate out the lawyers showing up and the plaintiff (the one who sued you) showing up.

It is very common for debt buyers to not send a single witness to trial.

As you can imagine, this makes it very hard for debt buyers such as Midland or LVNV Funding to prove that it owns the debt it has sued you on.

But the lawyers will show up.

They don’t skip going to court.

There are some collection lawyers who are so arrogant that they decide they don’t have to show up when the judge tells them to show up but this is not true of Zarzaur.

So expect them to show up.

Now they may show up “empty handed” with no witness and this may give you a wonderful opportunity to win your case but they will show up.

OK, so what should you do if you get a letter or a lawsuit from Zarzaur?

Practical Step One — Take A Letter From Zarzaur Seriously

Understand that you are almost certainly at the final stage before being sued.

Zarzaur normally sends out at least one letter telling you that you may be sued.

This is to give you a warning and to try to persuade you to reach out to the firm to settle so the firm does not have to file suit.

You may decide to settle the case.

Or, you may decide to fight the case.

You have five options when sued by a debt collector and five options when sued by an original creditor.

I recommend considering sending a “debt dispute” or “debt validation” letter to Zarzaur and to the company Zarzaur represents by certified mail.

There is no inherently right or wrong answer but make sure you make a wise decision based upon knowledge not speculation.

Practical Step Two — Take A Lawsuit From Zarzaur Seriously

If you receive a lawsuit where Zarzaur is the collection firm (or any lawyer is the collection lawyer) you must take this very seriously.

You are in danger of having a judgment against you which can have terrible consequences.

You must decide whether to fight the case or settle the case and whether to do this on your own or with a lawyer.

If you want more information about lawsuits by reading this series of articles on debt collection lawsuits.

Also, you only have a limited amount of time to respond to the lawsuit — either 14 days or 30 days so do not miss this deadline.

Respond so you can avoid a default judgment.

Practical Step Three — Find Out Your Rights And Then Take Action!

Ultimately here is the best advice we can give you when you get a letter or especially a lawsuit from Zarzaur:

  • Find out your legal rights and options; AND
  • Take the appropriate action.

We often tell our clients that knowledge is potentially powerful but “Knowledge without action is worthless so take action!”

You want to mix knowledge plus action — now you have real power.

If you don’t know your rights — you are doomed to failure.

If you do know your rights but do nothing — take no action — then you are also doomed to failure.

Normally there are very good outcomes that can come out of a collection lawsuit but only to those who know their rights and take immediate action.

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447.

You can also fill out our contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.  

We can also send you our books and other resources on what to do when sued.

Just let us know you would like this.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

John G. Watts


  1. irene davis says:

    Need to make payments for a capital one bill. Would like to do on line if possible or get number I can call each month.

    • John Watts says:


      If you are dealing directly with Capital One you should be able to call the number on the back of your card.

      If it has gone to a lawfirm, then you should get a letter from the firm. Same thing with a collection agency.

      That way you can pay, if you choose this option, the debt collector or collection lawfirm.

      If you have questions and you live in Alabama, call us at 205-879-2447 and Carolyn will get some of the details from you.

      Best wishes and thanks for your comment.

      John Watts

  2. taft delon says:

    I have 2 leans on my land from Zarzuar & Schwartz. One from 2005 and another from 2008. When recently purchasing a new vehicle, my credit shows that BOTH Debts. have been wrote off my credit as a bad debt with a ZERO balance from both Debtors. Isn’t it illegal for this law firm to obtain money from me when both debtors have now wrote off the debt? Wouldn’t they have to take this lean off my land since there is nothing to collect now?
    Thank you for your help….

    • John Watts says:


      Normally you only have a lien on your property if you have a judgment. So if someone obtained judgments against you in 2005 and 2008, then it doesn’t matter what’s on your credit report. Often it will be “charged off” but that doesn’t make the judgment go away and if the judgment is still valid, then the liens are still out there.

      You may have some options — be best for us to talk by phone. Call us at 205-879-2447 and ask to speak to Carolyn and she can look these up for you and set us up a call.


      John Watts

  3. Ruth says:

    I have been making regular payments for some time to Z & C for a medical bill. Their standard correspondence mentions I can make a settlement offer. How does this work, and what is an appropriate amount or percentage?

    Thank you for your help.

    • John Watts says:


      You can always make a lump sum settlement offer to Zarzaur & Schwartz. This can save you money and the collectors like it because it is the money now instead of monthly payments.

      You are welcome to make them an offer or ask them for a lump sum offer.

      If you want some thoughts about percentages etc give us a call and I’ll be happy to chat with you. You can call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she can get your information and set us up a phone call. Take about 15 minutes.


      John Watts

  4. Tina says:

    I received a copy of a garnishment dated Feb 2005 that Z & S had filed a motion to revive in March 2016. I wasn’t working at the time of the garnishment and have not heard anything since so this came out of the blue. Can they come back 11 years later and start garnishment? They have already contacted my employer to start taking it out immediately. I thought if they didn’t revive in 10 years it was gone? Is there anything I can do?

    • John Watts says:


      After 10 years a judgment “dies” in Alabama but the company that has the judgment can ask the court to “revive” it. If the court does, it is good for another 10 years.

      Contact me by phone (205-879-2447 — ask for Carolyn) and let’s talk about whether you were served back in 2005 or 2004.

      If you weren’t served, we can attack the judgment.

      If you were, then we need to look at options such as:

      1. Bankruptcy
      2. Making payment arrangements
      3. Doing a lump sum settlement

      We’ll be glad to help you think through your options.



      John Watts

  5. Pam says:

    I had a judgement against me in 2012. I have made payments to zarzuela every month since that date. I recently got an order of garnishment without any prior notice, letter ECT. Can they do this ? How could I fight this?

    • John Watts says:


      Did you have an agreement with them on the amount to pay? Did Zarzaur tell you that if you made those payments, there would be no garnishment?

      Have you made the payments?

      Normally if there is a judgment, then garnishment can happen anytime. But if the collection firm (such as Zarzaur) told you it would not garnish as long as you paid, then it should honor that promise.

      Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be happy to discuss with you over the phone. Ask for Carolyn and she’ll set you up a phone call with me and we’ll help you understand your options.


      John Watts

  6. I received a copy of a garnishment dated Feb 2006 that Z & S had filed a motion to revive in dec 2016. I was working at the time of the garnishment. They have already contacted my employer to start taking it out immediately. I nhave been paying an average of $180.00 to $200.00 every 2 weeks on a judgment of $2,400.32. on my check stubs it says the garnishment is at ($2,032.27) .they are telling me that i still owe $500.00. how do i go about making sure its right and making sure my job once fully paid wont continue to pay them, i contacted them and the lawyers wont tell me anything keep sayin i have to go to my job human resorces , and my job tells me i have to recieve papers from them. HELP THIS IS SUCH A HEADACHE! i need just a little bit of councel and its been such a struggle since this happen and im hoping to end the struggle finaceally. thank you for any help

    • John Watts says:


      Call my office at 205-879-2447 and we can chat specifically about this situation.

      Sounds like there has been some “post judgment” interest added. You do need to verify how much has been received by Zarzaur & Schwartz and compare that to what you owed. Money is withheld from paycheck, then eventually sent to court, then eventually sent to Zarzaur. So there can be a delay in the money getting to them.

      But call us and we’ll help you walk through it.



      John Watts

      PS — ask for Carolyn and she’ll look up your case and get the details.

  7. Donna Garland says:

    I have a judgement against me for a car. They are taking 25%. I don’t have the car,they do which doesn’t seem fair. Is there anything I can do? How can they take it and still get paid for it? Is that legal?

    • John Watts says:


      I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

      I assume what has happened is you had a car repossessed, then you were sued, and a judgment was entered against you.

      Now you are being garnished 25% on your wages.

      The theory is — unfair often in practice — but the theory is when they take the car, they sell it, and apply the money to what you owe.

      Then you get sued for the difference — the “deficiency”.

      You have a couple of options if there is a judgment against you.

      You can negotiate a settlement with the collection lawfirm (I assume Zarzaur & Schwartz since commenting on this page).

      Another option is you can file bankruptcy.

      You could allow them to keep taking the money until paid off.

      Or you could ask the court to grant you an exemption where some or all of your income is protected from garnishment.

      Sorry you are dealing with this and I hope these options get you started in the right direction to find a solution.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

      • Donna Garland says:

        Thank you very much. I’m assuming they gave the car away since I owe full amount plus expenses. I’m not trying to get out of it but I will try talking with them and see if they will work with me. Again,thank you.

  8. Patrice says:


    I received a letter from Zarzaur and Schwartz asking I pay a balance it’s just a regular collection letter. Should I just respond and ask them to validate the debt? It didn’t say anything about suing on this one.

    • John Watts says:


      It really does depend on each situation but in general yes I would send a validation letter (example here).

      Or you can call us at 205-879-2447 and we can take a look at the letter and let you know if we think a lawsuit is on its way or not.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  9. Kristen says:


    My fiance received a letter from Z&S yesterday, regarding a balance which was in collections from Credit Acceptance for a truck he was a co-signer on which was repossessed. The amount is for over $10k and is something we are not able to pay in full for. What do you suggest we do about handling this debt?

    • John Watts says:


      You have a couple of options.

      First, you could ask them about a payment plan.

      Second, you could request proof or validation of the debt — especially if you question the amount.

      Third, you could hire a lawyer to negotiate with them. A lawsuit will probably be filed soon against your fiancee so keep that in mind.

      If you want to chat with us give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  10. Sarah says:


    I received letters from Z&S back in September/October. I didn’t get these letters at first because my address had changed. So, I called them later in October and left a message. I never heard back from them, no calls, no more letters. Now, I think I have received a court summons to that same bad address. I’ve tried to call again and will continue to call them. Will I still be able to make payment arrangements with them at this point? They had the wrong address and never contacted me back. Also, this was a shared loan and the other person has completely walked away from the responsibility, barely ever paid anything toward it. Any advice. Thank you so much!!

  11. Frank says:

    I set up payment arrangements with them 4 months ago. I have made full payments, on time, for the 4 months. I still received a summons yesterday. I don’t know why. I have called them 3 times now, left messages, and no calls are being returned. Now what?

    • John Watts says:


      If you are served, you have to respond or they will get a default judgment against you.

      You should reach out to them again to figure out why they sued you.

      And some folks put in their response that they file in court that they are making payments.

      Do make sure your payments have not been returned for some reason — if they are accepted I’m not sure why you were sued.

      Welcome to call me and we can look and see what’s going on. 205-879-2447.

      John Watts

  12. Shannon Miller says:

    Judgement not revived after 10 year period how do I get a release from property lien

    • John Watts says:


      Even after 10 years in Alabama normally a judge will let the collection lawyers revive the judgment. So consider carefully if you want to bring attention to this matter now or if you can let more time go by.

      Welcome to call me if this is about an Alabama judgment — 205-879-2447 thanks.

      John Watts

  13. Janiah says:

    Can Z & S sue me if I’m never actually served? They are sending mail to an address I no longer live at.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m assuming you are in Alabama. So the first step is Zarzaur & Schwartz sues you. Then they serve you. If they have an old address, they won’t be able to serve you there but they can serve you at your new address or any place they can find you. People have been served on planes.

      You do have to keep an eye on this as sometimes the process server (the one trying to serve you) will say that they served you even though they didn’t. But if the court thinks you are served, then your time to answer starts to run.

      If sued in small claims or district court, you have 14 days to respond after served. If sued in circuit court, have 30 days to respond after being served.

      If you want us to look up your case, call Carolyn at 205-879-2447 and she can look up the case for you.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  14. GW says:

    I don’t even live in Alabama and never have, got 2 letters asking for a payment plan, do I need to do anything?

    • John Watts says:


      It may be that Zarzaur & Schwartz practices in your state — not sure. Contact me at john[at] and send me the letters and I’ll be glad to give you my thoughts.


  15. jeff calvert says:

    Hi, I’m disabled and on Social Security, is there a way they would take less then what i allegedly owe them? Also i am unable to drive so if taken to court i would be unable to show up. What would happen.

  16. Jonja Bivens says:

    What if you received a letter from them providing a set court date for a forth coming lawsuit,,,, but after looking over their provided ownership proof of the account, I discovered misinformation,,,the account number and my S.S.N. is incorrect,,,,,now where do I stand with this case…

    Jonja Bivens

    • John Watts says:


      I think it depends on how off the info is. Does it have your name but wrong SSN? Wrong account number?

      Or is it clearly some other consumer’s info?

      Sometimes they send you the wrong stuff.

      Other times it is clear that the documents have been made after the fact and the docs have the wrong info.

      If you are in AL call us at 205-879-2447. If outside of AL find a consumer lawyer here —

      Its worth your time to chat with a consumer lawyer (no charge) to find out your options.


      John Watts
      205-879-2447 or contact us here

  17. Jerry Traylor says:

    I had car repo in 2012 and all of a sudden I’m got a letter saying I’m getting garnish 25% of my paycheck! The letter says date of judgement is 8/18/2013. Is there a statue of limitations? How can they do this? Intrest is $5,000.00 more than the car was worth. I have been told there was a statue of limitations on this. Please help! What options do I have? I’ve worked so hard to get my credit excellent and now this taking alot of money out of my paycheck!!

  18. Gerald says:

    I am trying to find out what my balance is on the remainder of my account? My file number is 19-18813. I
    Thank you very much.

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