The biggest danger consumers face when sued by a debt collector

The biggest danger consumers face when sued by a debt collector

A picture of a caution sign with the words, "The biggest danger consumers face when sued by a debt collector"When you have been sued by a debt collector, the biggest danger consumers face arises at the beginning of the lawsuit.

Recently, we discussed the time limits to respond once you have been served. 

In district or small claims court, you have 14 days to respond.

In circuit court, you have 30 days to respond.

But what if you don’t respond?

If you do not respond, you fall victim to the biggest danger you face when being sued. 

It is not that you lose in the trial. 

It is not that you make a mistake on the witness stand.

The biggest danger is that you do nothing and the debt collector gets a default judgment against you.

For some reason, there is a myth that a default judgment isn’t real, that it has no power. 

People think the collector can’t really garnish your wages with a default judgment or put a lien on your property or even sell your property.

This is absolutely false in Alabama. The collector can do all of these things if they get a default judgment against you.

Make no mistake. A default judgment is a real judgment

Default means that you didn’t show up, that you didn’t do anything in the case. So now there is a judgment.

A default judgment is just as valid as a consent judgment or a summary judgment.

The biggest danger you face when being sued by any collector – Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery, Unifund, etc. 

The biggest danger is just doing nothing, and then the debt collector wins by default.

Just like in a sporting event — if you don’t show up, you forfeit.

Sometimes people say, “I’m not going to hire a lawyer, I would have to do this on my own, and would probably lose.”

Okay. Let’s put numbers on it. Say there’s a 10% chance you win.

At least there is a chance. 

If you do nothing, you have a 0% chance of winning.

You will have much more than a 10% chance if you put in the time and fight these cases, at least the ones that need to be fought.

The debt buyers must prove that they own the debt and that you owe the debt.

Give it a shot. At least give it a chance.

If you are outside of the 14 or 30-day time limit, and there is still no default judgment, file your answer immediately.

If there is a default judgment, check to see if you have time under the rules to ask the judge to set that aside.

This means you tell the judge, “I messed up, I made a mistake, I have a legitimate defense. I’m asking you to set this aside and give me a chance to defend myself.”

There are very strict time limits for this type of request so you must make sure you understand the rules.

You do not want to fall victim to this biggest danger early on.

At least give yourself a chance by getting past this huge danger first. Tackle this large danger first, then worry about other potential dangers when you get to them.

Take action and give yourself a chance to succeed.

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If we can answer any questions for you, call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form.

Thanks and have a great day!


John Watts


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