“What do I do if I’m sued by a debt collector in the wrong county?”

“If I’m sued by a debt collector in the wrong county, what should I do?”

"What do I do if I'm sued by a debt collector in the wrong county?"Being sued by a debt collector is bad.

What could possibly be worse?

A debt collector suing you in the wrong county.

That’s why it is against the law.

What can you do in the state court collection case?

You can ask the judge to transfer your case to the right county, if you were sued in the wrong one.

In Small Claims, you’ll receive a “form answer” to file.

When you file your answer, box “A” is where you have been sued in the wrong county.

That’s the box you will want to check.

In District court, you can file a motion to change the venue.

What can you do in federal court with the collector who sued you in the wrong county?

If the debt collector (debt buyer) who sued you is subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), then it can only sue you in one of two counties:

  1. Where you currently live
  2. Where you signed the contract or entered into the loan

Anywhere else is a violation of the FDCPA.

Some people file these suits immediately.

We prefer to wait till after we win the collection case and then sue the debt collector in federal court.

We sue for making false representations, unfair conduct, etc. as well as malicious prosecution.

In addition, we add the claim that the lawsuit was filed in the wrong county.

You can see an example below where we sued Midland Funding in federal court for this violation.  We have only included the specific part on the wrong county.

What should you do now?

Decide whether you are going to handle this on your own, or if you’re going to hire a lawyer.

To find out more about these options, then you may want to check out our 5 options for when you are sued — it is an article and a 24 minute video.

If you want to chat with us, call us at 205-879-2447 or let us know on our contact page and we’ll get right back with you.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-John G. Watts

============== EXAMPLE LANGUAGE FROM LAWSUIT===========

  • On August 2, 2013, Defendant Midland sued Plaintiff in the Small Claims Court of Jefferson County, Alabama.
  • The lawsuit was improperly filed in Jefferson County as the FDCPA required the suit be brought in Shelby County, where Plaintiff lived, and where the debt was allegedly created by Plaintiff signing a contract in Shelby County, Alabama.

15 U.S.C. § 1692i(a)(2)

  • Plaintiff incorporates by reference all of the above paragraphs of this Complaint as though fully stated herein.
  • Section 1692i(a)(2) states:
  • (a) Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer shall —
    • (2) in the case of an action not described in paragraph (1), bring such action only in the judicial district or similar legal entity —
  • (A) in which such consumer signed the contract sued upon; or
    • (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.
  • Specifically, paragraphs 47-48 support the 1692i(a)(2) claim.
  • As a result of Defendant Midland’s violations of the FDCPA, Plaintiff is entitled to actual damages; statutory damages; and reasonable attorney’s fees, expenses and costs from Defendant Midland.


  1. Teshika Holmes says:

    Hello I need to talk to someone about Midland myself. I have a debt that I have disputed with them several times, even an attorney from their company by the name of Halloway and Associates threatened me when I explain on the phone that I dispute this debt. The second time I spoke to the lawyer she threatened to take legal action against me and now I know that they have because I have received information from bankruptcy attorneys in the mail. Is it possible to set up an appointment to speak to someone? Thank you,

  2. kolleen says:

    I am currently being sued by midland. my court date is in November. I last paid on this HomeDepot account that they purchased in March of 2009. I responded to the suit with the fact that it is past the statute of limitations and received a court date. What all do I need to take to court? I already have 2 judgements against me for accounts that I was sued in the wrong county for and the judge refused to allow a venue change and yes.. I failed to show up. my screw up. Not happening again. The homedepot account was not opened in Madison county and I don’t live in Madison county. So… can I opt for a venue change? Could use a little free advice. Obviously if I had the money for a lawyer I would have the money for the debt.

    • John Watts says:


      Definitely show up to court — they are hoping you won’t again. You are like me — learn good lessons in a painful way — I think they call it “experience.” 🙂

      If you didn’t take it out in Madison County and you don’t live in Madison County then this normally is a violation of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). You can also ask for a change of venue — where do you live?

      I’ll be glad to send you some information so you can have some help in your case and we can also talk about options you have once the trial is over.

      Call my office at 205-879-2447 and ask for my office to send you the 7 mistakes people often make when testifying in debt collection trials. I’ll also be glad to do a 30 minute phone call with you to go over your options.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  3. Kelly says:

    What if you were sued in one county and never served, then moved? A case is still open against me in a county I did live in at the time it was filed, but I had no idea until just recently applying for credit and seeing I was declined due to a “pending legal matter.” I searched public records in my state and found an open suit against me in my old county of residence.

    • Kelly says:

      FYI the suit was filed almost two years ago. No action has been taken that I can see since an Affidavit of No Service was filed in October 2013. It’s still open though.

    • John Watts says:


      Couple of options — definitely check with a lawyer in your state who knows your situation as it does vary on who is suing, when they sued, who the judge is, etc.

      Option one — do nothing. See what happens. Will they serve you? Dismiss the case and refile it?

      Option two — file a response with the court and let the court know what county you live in.

      Advantages and disadvantages to each approach. A lot depends on your local area. I’m assuming you are not in Alabama as our suits rarely are reported on credit reports unless you are talking about a specialized credit report.

      If you are in Alabama, feel free to give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she’ll look up the court case. Also send us whatever you received showing “pending legal matter” — if you are outside of Alabama find a consumer protection attorney in your state. If you need help, let us know and we may know someone in your state.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

      • Kelly says:

        Thank you. I’m in Georgia. My biggest concern was that they might serve me by public notice, and I’d miss it, thus missing a court date and getting a default judgment against me.

        My assumption is that since the suit was filed while I was in fact still living in the county that this is not a violation of the FDCPA.

        • John Watts says:


          Yes the general rule under FDCPA is you must be sued where you live or where you were when you entered into the contract being sued on. Now this can differ from the “venue” rules of Georgia (which I don’t know) about where a collection suit must be filed.

          My friend Steve Koval is in Atlanta — call him and I bet he can help you. Great consumer lawyer. (404) 350-5900 and http://www.kovalfirm.com/.

          Best wishes and Steve will take care of you if you have any questions….

          John Watts

  4. Jake says:

    I am currently being sued by collections from credit card debt that defaulted in 2012. The lawsuit was placed the same month as the sol ran out in my state. That was several months ago. They inistally tied to serve me in the county I live in then I read on the case net that they changed venues to a different county. I still have never been served and there was a court date last week and it was extended for another month. It says serve or dismiss. They are still trying to serve me in the wrong county and if I do get served what are my options. Also if it does get dismissed can they sue again if tjensol ran out? I live in Missouri

    • John Watts says:


      I can’t tell you the law in Missouri — might check with a great lawyer named Jason Krebs in Springfield, Missouri.

      Here’s the deal under Alabama law — I suspect your law is similar (but do check on this).

      If the case is dismissed without prejudice, then they can sue you again.

      But the new lawsuit will have the new filing date and that’s what you check against the statute of limitations.

      So let’s say the SOL is December 2017.

      The first case is dismissed without prejudice August 2017.

      They refile in February 2018 — too late.

      Now as a related point — if they keep the first lawsuit alive and serve you after the SOL deadline, that doesn’t matter. We only care about the date the lawsuit was filed — not when they serve you.

      Hope this makes sense and best wishes on your case!

      John Watts

  5. Spencer Mackenzie says:

    I have a question I defaulted on a loan for a car that was sold at auction may of 2009. On July of 2010 plaintiff sued me in the county I reside in. Case was later dismissed without prejudice in February 2010.. then in June of 2013 they re-filed but the case was again dismissed without prejudice in October of 2015 again in the same county I live in. Now fast forward I found out same group has now filed a suit against me for the same debt on June 16 ,2016 but they have filed in a different county I still reside in the same county as always which is Tulsa County in Oklahoma… The loan originated in Tulsa County how are they able to do this. I’m curious if they filed in wrong county does that effect their statute of limitations since even though they filed in correct time it was in the wrong place? …. any insight at all would be helpful

    • John Watts says:


      You’ll have to check with Oklahoma lawyers to see what the state rules are about where they can sue you. If this is a consumer debt, then the normal rule under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) is the must sue you where the loan was originated (Tulsa County) or where you live (also Tulsa County). Now, you do have to make sure the FDCPA applies to your loan.

      The question then becomes do you challenge this now or later.

      A lot of that depends on the local law. I don’t know if it affects the statute of limitations.

      Here, in Alabama, filing in the “wrong” county does not impact statute of limitations for bringing the collection lawsuit. They can file in the wrong county and the judge can order the case transferred to the correct county if Alabama law requires. The FDCPA does not make a judge transfer it — instead, it says to the debt collector, “You are guilty of violating the FDCPA and can be sued for this.”

      Get in touch with the excellent lawyers in Tulsa — Humphreys, Wallace & Humphreys.

      These are good guys — we’ve worked with them on cases before. Tell David or Luke we sent you their way.

      So step one is get in touch the lawyers — then step two is come up with a strategy. Do you fight the venue (place where suit filed) now or do you sue under FDCPA or do a combination approach?

      Best wishes and I hope you are very successful against these guys!

      John Watts


    Hi, I have a case put in against me by Secu. I defaulted on a credit card due to financial hardship. I have not lived in Md since 2014 which they are aware of, but the case is filed in a Townson court in close proximity to where the attorneys are located. I live in Houston and cannot afford flight and accommodation to Md, I’ve reached out to the court to dismiss the case due to lack of proper venue but they declined, no reason was stated. Is this something you could assist with?

    • John Watts says:

      If the case is in Maryland, or anywhere but Alabama, then no I can’t help you directly.

      I would suggest strongly that you get a lawyer in MD to help you — each state has different rules and I don’t know how it works there. It may be that suing you in that location is proper or it may be very wrong.

      Here’s a starting point to find a lawyer — https://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney. Put in the state where sued and start contacting the lawyers that look like they do debt collection defense. All the lawyers listed on here represent only consumers.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  7. Tam says:

    Hi! Was served today with papers for a card with Rooms To Go. I live and have lived in Jefferson County. The papers were filed in St. Clair. I do live REALLY close to the county lines, but am 100% in Jefferson. When we moved we called and hoped property was in St. Clair as taxes are less, but no such luck. I am planning on filing bankruptcy as soon as I can. The place I worked closed and have had to take a 50% pay cut while I am looking for a job with similar income and also had to have an emergency appendectomy earlier this year and have no insurance. so bankruptcy at this point is my only option.
    Should I answer the complaint and have them re-file in Jeff co, or is there something else I can or should do?
    Thanks so much!

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