5 secrets debt buyers who sue in Alabama don’t want you to know about
The Five Secrets Debt Buyers Who Sue You In Alabama Don’t Want You To Know About!
Debt buyers (debt collectors) are flooding our Alabama courts with lawsuits where they claim to own the debt that they are suing on. Often, when you are sued, you are confused as you never did business with the debt buyer (Cavalry, LVNV Funding, Midland Funding, Unifund, Velocity, and many others) but you find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit.
The debt buyers say that they “stand in the shoes” of the original creditor so if you owe, for example, Bank of America or Chase or Capital One, then the debt buyer says you owe the debt buyer.
This is now a huge business – suing consumers on purchased debt or “junk debt.” This business results in hundreds of judgments against consumers every month which then leads to garnishments of bank accounts and paychecks.
The debt buyers win approximately 90% of their cases. They have tons of money and lawyers who specialize in nothing but suing consumers just like you and collecting the judgments by garnishments.
This is the bad news.
From your standpoint, when you have been served with a summons and you have 14 days (or 30 days) to respond to the lawsuit, it appears hopeless. Are you destined to lose? The debt buyers want you to believe this lie.
The truth is there are five secrets that debt buyers are praying that you never find out because, if you do, then you can improve your chances of winning your case.
This is information that debt buyers would rather you have to crawl on your hands and knees across broken glass to get this information. We have had debt collection lawyers tell judges that “John Watts is messing up our system of collecting debts because they are making consumers think they can fight back against collection lawsuits.”
You don’t have to crawl across glass – instead you can read this article while sitting at your kitchen table — have a pen to make notes and write down questions.
We have discovered these secrets from trying debt buyer cases for over a decade and we want you to know what they are so you won’t be a victim like 90% of consumers are. Instead of being a victim, you can put yourself in a position where you can fight back against the debt buyers.
Okay. Enough of the background information. Let’s jump right into the first secret….
SECRET NUMBER ONE – ANSWER THE COMPLAINT AND YOU DRAMATICALLY INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING YOUR CASE
Debt buyers are counting on you not answering the complaint against you. They don’t care why you don’t answer – they just don’t want you to answer it. It may be procrastination (no-one likes to deal with bad news), it may be fear (it is scary being sued), or most likely it is that you believe the lie there is nothing you can do once you are sued. Whatever the reason, the debt buyer wants you to not answer the complaint. Because if you don’t answer the lawsuit you will almost certainly lose – a default judgment will be entered against you which leads to garnishment and other negative consequences as you can imagine.
Here’s the first secret that debt buyers are hoping you will never find out – if you answer the complaint with a denial then your chances of winning goes up dramatically.
It sounds obvious but if you don’t show up to the game, then you can’t win!
But if you show up to the game (answer the complaint) then you have a chance to win.
While we can’t tell you how to answer in your case (as every case is different), we have not met any clients who agree they owe money to the debt buyer as normally our clients don’t even know who the debt buyer is or what the supposed debt is that they are being sued for. So our clients deny the allegations of the complaint. Here is an example of how many answer a small claims collection case.
This is what the debt buyers don’t want you to do because it tells the court that your case needs to be tried. When a case is tried the debt buyer must prove that it is entitled to get a judgment against you. This idea of proof leads to the next secret that debt buyers don’t want you to know…..
SECRET NUMBER TWO – THE DEBT BUYER MUST PROVE IT OWNS THE DEBT – “SHOW ME THE TITLE!”
Now that you have answered the lawsuit, the court will normally set the case for trial. Make sure you show up to trial. Trial is time for debt buyers to “put up or shut up.” They can’t just claim or wish or hope – they now have to prove. One of the most basic things they must prove is something they do not want for you to know. This is the second secret they hope you never discover – that the debt buyer must prove it owns the debt!
Some of us remember the old Wendy’s commercial that had the tag line “Show me the beef!” when the older lady saw a hamburger with hardly any meat on it.
In the same way we can tell debt buyers to “show me the title!” to the debt. They really don’t want to be put in this position.
If you were buying a car from someone, before you handed them any money, what would you want to see? Even after checking the car out, figuring out if the price was good, what would be an absolute must for you to have before you would give over your cash? The title of course!
Well, why would you agree to give over your hard earned cash to a debt buyer who won’t, in a court of law, on the day of trial, show you that it has title to the debt?
Debt buyers claim to buy debt from original creditors. They also claim to buy debts from other debt buyers. Sometimes they claim to own a debt at the exact same time another debt buyer is claiming to own the same debt. How do you protect yourself from fraudulent claims? The same way as when you are buying a car or a house – you want to see the chain of title. To make sure there is good title from whomever you are buying from.
With debt buyers you want to see the proof that the debt buyer who is suing you actually owns the debt. If it bought the debt from some other debt buyer then you need to see the proof that the other debt buyer owned the debt at the time it sold it to the one suing you. Sometimes there are multiple debt buyers – they all need to prove that they owned the debt.
They have to at a minimum show you the “Purchase Agreement” where they supposedly bought your debt and they will have to show that your debt was included in the Purchase Agreement.
(Note: They strongly dislike me saying this. They claim they can show you (and the court) a one page “Bill of Sale” document but somehow hide the Purchase Agreement — we strongly disagree!).
We have not seen a situation where the debt buyer proves it owns the debt but even if it does, that is merely the first step. The third secret is something that comes next and debt buyers definitely don’t want you to know this dirty secret in the industry.
SECRET NUMBER THREE – THE DEBT BUYER OFTEN DOES NOT EVEN HAVE THE CONTRACT OR ORIGINAL PAPERWORK YOU ARE BEING SUED ON!
It seems obvious that if you are being sued on an old credit card debt, then the debt buyer should have the written contract or the terms of the agreement, right? The debt buyer should be able to show you what the terms of the deal were – such as interest rate, late fees, which law applies, etc. Well, the dirty secret that debt buyers hope you will never discover is that often they don’t even have the contract when they sue you and, even more shockingly, they often don’t have the contract or any paperwork when they are standing in front of a judge at trial!
In the typical credit card deal, there is not a signed contract. But there are terms that bind the parties. You will be sent these when you receive your credit card. From time to time, the terms will be changed or modified. These are the little sheets of paper you receive with the bill that say something along the lines of “If you use your card after today, you hereby agree to the modifications in the terms of agreement.” The changes may be on the interest rate or the late fees or when a payment is late or anything else that governs the deal.
Amazingly debt buyers will sue you for breaking the “contract.” However, when we ask the lawyers for the debt buyers at trial what the terms of the contract were, they look sheepish and admit they don’t know.
But they are “confident” our client broke the terms even though they don’t know what those terms are! We see so many unrepresented consumers settle cases at the courthouse never knowing that the debt buyer not only normally can’t prove it owns the debt (secret number two) but that it doesn’t even know what the terms are that the consumer supposedly broke.
Every now and then, a debt buyer’s lawyer will have in his or her file a “specimen” copy that is supposedly similar to the one that you received. On these few occasions that we have actually seen a debt buyer show up to court with their specimen copy – it doesn’t even match the time period our clients used the card!
For example, our client may have used a Chase credit card from 2007 to 2011. The lawyer will show up with the terms dated 2013. This is worthless.
Even if the lawyer for the debt buyer has the right terms and all amendments that are applicable, the debt buyers normally don’t have a way to prove their case because….
SECRET NUMBER FOUR – THE DEBT BUYER OFTEN HAS NO WITNESS!
Debt buyers normally show up to district court and small claims court with NO witness. No one. Imagine suing somebody and going to court without a single witness.
It makes no sense. Except it does. From an economic perspective and a practical legal perspective.
Think of it this way – about 90% of all debt buyer lawsuits result in a default judgment against consumers. The others get settled. The few that don’t get settled go to trial, but normally about 50% of the people who have made it to trial don’t even show up. So they lose.
The ones that actually show up normally discuss the case with the debt buyer’s lawyer and assume and trust that the debt buyer really owns the debt and that the consumer really owes it. So they settle.
Given all of this, why would a debt buyer “waste” time and money by sending a witness with proper evidence to every case going to trial? Not just in Alabama but all over the country. Some of these debt buyers file over a 100,000 lawsuits a year in the country. That would be a lot of witnesses flying back and forth and renting cars and staying in hotels. So, from an economic perspective most of the time the debt buyers decide it is just not worth the effort to bring somebody.
The practical legal perspective is normally, at least in our many years of experience, the debt buyer simply has no proof that you owe the debt and no proof it owns the debt. Maybe in other cases, aside from our cases, the debt buyers have the proof. But, I doubt it.
So if the debt buyer does not have the proof, it must rely on deception and intimidation.
The debt buyer wants you to assume the debt buyer has the proof. And that you will be so intimidated that you won’t do anything because it seems “hopeless.”
Don’t believe this false assumption.
Regardless of why the debt buyer won’t (or can’t) prove its case, it really doesn’t matter to you. If the debt buyer shows up “empty handed” on the day of trial, there are serious consequences to the debt buyer.
But the debt buyers think that they can get you to admit that you owe the debt buyer money. We will discuss this more in our report we send to clients regarding how to answer questions when on the witness stand in a debt buyer lawsuit but here’s the short version.
Don’t speculate. Don’t guess. When the lawyer says “You owed Citibank some money, didn’t you?” You can answer “Yes” if that’s true.
But when the debt buyer lawyer says “So you agree you owe my client money, don’t you?” You remember that you are not to speculate. Unless you have seen absolute proof that the debt buyer owns the debt (and here’s a hint – the bogus papers they bring to court that don’t even list your account on some alleged bill of sale don’t count!) you should not speculate. The only truthful answer is “No”.
Now the new strategy is they will bring an “Affidavit” swearing that they own the debt.
First, you can’t cross examine a piece of paper in court. Second, why would we believe these when the big banks have been guilty of the robo signing where they falsely “swear out” affidavits? Sometimes they have dead people sign the affidavits. It’s amazing what these guys do.
When we are confronted with affidavits, we object to them and we point out that almost all of them have errors in them when you study them closely.
Let’s say that you have won your collection case because first, you answered the complaint. Second, you forced the debt buyer to “show me the title.” Third, you pointed out the debt buyer doesn’t even have the contract it is suing you on.
Finally, you recognized the debt buyer doesn’t even have a witness and you answered truthfully without speculating. The case is over and the debt buyer did not appeal. What happens next? Does this debt stay on your credit reports? Debt buyers say “Yes – we may have lost but we can still report this on your credit reports.”
Here’s what they don’t want you to know – and it’s our last secret revealed in this article – there are serious, even costly, consequences to the debt buyer for losing its case against you. The debt buyer has tried to scare us into not telling you this information because this destroys their business model of how they make money by filing cases without proof while putting false information on your credit reports. Take a look at the next page to learn this final secret….
SECRET NUMBER FIVE – WHEN DEBT BUYERS LOSE, THEY MUST CORRECT YOUR CREDIT REPORTS AND YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SUE THE DEBT BUYER FOR VIOLATING THE LAW
When you win your debt buyer lawsuit it normally means that you do NOT owe the debt buyer any money. A judge has ruled that there is no obligation for you to pay the debt buyer. If you don’t owe the debt buyer any money, then the debt buyer must take this off of your credit reports. They hate doing this!
Here’s why they hate doing this. Leaving false information on your credit reports is one of the best ways to force you to pay something you don’t owe. We call this “parking an account.” This should give you a sense of what they are doing and why they are doing it. They leave or “park” this false information on your credit reports. They hope that one day when you go to refinance a house or buy a car or apply for an apartment or a job that this will prevent you from getting the loan, apartment or the job. Your only quick solution, they believe, is for you to pay this false debt. It’s as if they parked a broken down car in your front yard. Eventually a time will come when you will pay to get rid of this even though it is not yours.
The debt buyer also knows it is vulnerable to potentially being sued. They’re aware because of the bogus lawsuit it filed against you. Bogus lawsuits violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It hopes you never learn this secret.
But now you know this secret.
So, what should you do? You have four choices:
1. Do nothing and hope that the debt buyer does the right thing;
2. Contact the debt buyer directly and ask the debt buyer to do the right thing;
3. Dispute this false account with the consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and Trans Union) using a Fair Credit Reporting Act dispute (FCRA); or
4. Sue the debt buyer under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) for filing a bogus lawsuit against you and false credit reporting.
The words that come to mind on the first option are “Good luck.”
We have seen clients who handled (and won) the debt buyer case on their own.
Unfortunately, they come to us six or nine months later and the false information is still on their credit reports.
The second option has some appeal.
The debt buyer might realize you know about the obligation for the debt buyer to correct your credit reports.
However, there’s an issue here. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you can’t sue the debt buyer for putting false information on your credit report unless you have first disputed with the credit reporting agencies. Bottom line, some debt buyers believe they can intentionally put false information on your credit reports and then if you dispute they will correct your reports and claim you can’t sue. This leads us to the third option.
The third option, doing a dispute under the FCRA, is a valid approach. Sometimes the credit reporting agencies actually remove false information. It’s rare but it does happen occasionally. Sometimes a debt buyer will realize that you know this fifth secret and will remove the false information. If the credit bureaus and the debt buyers don’t follow the law, then you can sue them under the FCRA.
The final option of suing the debt buyer is the option we have used extensively for a number of years. This option says “Hey debt buyer – you sued me without any basis, with no proof, and you lied on my credit report. That’s wrong.” This is the ultimate way to turn the tables on the debt buyer – sue the debt buyer in federal court and demand that a jury from the community decide your case.
As you can imagine, the debt buyers hate this choice. 🙂
Well, we are almost at the end of our journey together. “Congratulations” to you for taking the time to read through this so you know these five secrets.
You now have a huge advantage over the debt buyer who sued you.
You know these five secrets that debt buyers want to keep hidden from you. But just knowing them is not enough.
You (or your lawyer) should consider taking action:
1. Answer the complaint;
2. Demand to see proof at trial of the ownership of the debt;
3. Point out that the debt buyer does not have the contract or the paperwork;
4. Use the fact that the debt buyer doesn’t have a witness and proper evidence to show the court that it has not proven its case; and
5. Make sure and take the appropriate action right after you win the collection trial.
We hope and trust this report has been helpful.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how you can increase your chances of being successful in your case. This report may not answer all of your questions so we welcome you contacting us.
We wish you the best!
Call us at 205-879-2447 if you would like to talk about your options — anywhere in the State of Alabama. Or you can fill out our contact form and we’ll get back with you right away.