“Why does debt buyer who sued me have to prove it owns the debt?”

Owing a debt and Owning a debt are different

Keep it simple — understand difference in OWING a debt and a debt buyer OWNING the debt

Why it is critical to understand the difference in “owning” a debt and “owing” a debt!

You can only OWE the debt collector or debt buyer if the debt buyer OWNS your debt.

Take your house or your apartment.  You owe a mortgage or rent, right?

So I sue you.

I sue you for your mortgage payment or rent.

Do you owe it?


Do you owe ME?

Of course not!!

Why not?

Because I don’t own your mortgage or your apartment.

Can you imagine if I said to the judge, “But he owes someone on his house/apartment so he should owe me!”

The judge would laugh while ordering me arrested.  🙂

You see the point?  Just because you may owe on a credit card does not mean you owe Midland Funding or Portfolio Recovery or LVNV Funding.

They must prove they OWN the debt to even have a chance to get money from you.

[Note:  they must also prove you OWE the debt to someone.  Sometimes they can do this but where they really struggle is in proving they OWN the debt.]


Would a debt buyer (Midland, Portfolio, etc) really sue without owning the debt?

You better believe it!

Here’s your choice:

Assume the debt buyer owns the debt and so you don’t make them prove it.


Assume the debt buyer, who has probably been hammered repeatedly by the government and private lawsuits, does not own the debt.  Make the debt buyer prove it owns the debt.

This all starts with your Answer or Response to the lawsuit (complaint).  Remember your time limits to answer the lawsuit — it runs from when you were served.

My approach is to assume the debt buyer, who I never did business with, does not own the debt.  I simply tell them to prove it at trial.  You make your own choice but assuming you are skeptical of a company that claims to buy debts for a few pennies on the dollar and sues you for 100% of the amount, then read on . . . .


How do I prove the debt collector does not own the debt?

Here’s the secret debt buyers don’t want you to know . . . .

You don’t have to prove this!


How is that possible?

It all comes down to the “burden of proof”.  That simply means, who must prove a fact in the lawsuit.

The Plaintiff — the one that started the whole lawsuit — that person/company must prove it is entitled to win.

So in a car wreck case, I have to prove the defendant was negligent.  Broke a safety rule and injured me.

Same way with a debt buyer lawsuit.  Plaintiff — the debt buyer — must prove its case.

The essential element is that it — the debt buyer — owns your debt.

If it cannot (or will not) do this, it loses.

You do not have to prove this.

Think of it this way — how would you prove a negative?  How do you prove something did NOT happen — something secret between the original creditor and a debt buyer?  Or a debt buyer that is 3rd or 4th in line?

You can’t.

The debt buyer must prove it actually is a debt buyer of your debt.

For over a decade I have watched them struggle to do this.


What should I do next?

Here’s a simple checklist for you to consider:

  1. Find out when you were served (we can help you if sued in Alabama)
  2. Look at your five options (bankruptcy, fight on your own, settle on your own, hire a lawyer to fight or hire a lawyer to settle)
  3. Make a decision on which option to choose
  4. Make sure you or your lawyer respond to the lawsuit in the time limits under Alabama law
  5. Either settle the case or go to trial

We can help you with every step of the process.

Simplest way is to pick up the phone and call us at 205-879-2447.  Ask for Carolyn and she will look up your case and then we can chat.

Or you can contact us through this website and we’ll get right back with you.

Thanks for reading this and make sure you are 100% crystal clear on this difference:  owing a debt and owning a debt.  If you understand this you are way ahead in the game.

John Watts

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