If you are behind on a debt, you might be wondering if the threats made by the debt collector to take you to court are legitimate. It is illegal for a debt collector to threaten to take you to court if they have no intention of doing so, however, they do have the legal right to file a claim against you in court. There are certain legal processes that must be followed for a claim to advance to court and for the debt collector to get a judgment. While any creditor can sue you, usually a big creditor will not sue you over a small debt.
Why Would a Debt Collector Sue Me?
In general, debts less than $1,000 are much less likely to result in a lawsuit than those over $1,000. To file a suit, it involves time, effort, and manpower. Often, it can cost the debt collector $1,000 to $5,000 to sue someone. However, the cost is not as much for a local business. Local businesses are much less likely to hesitate.
They can file a claim in small claims court and represent you themselves. The debt collector will also consider your ability to repay, such as your source of income and your assets. If you are unemployed and living with a relative, you could be sued, and the creditor might get a judgment, but they know they are much less likely to be compensated because you don’t have wages to garnish or property to file a lien against.
How the Legal Process Works
When a creditor is pursuing a debt in court, you will be served with a summons that shows why you are being sued and when the court date is set. You can ask the creditor to provide proof of the debt to the court. You can also take documentation to support your case if you contest the amount of debt or the validity of the debt. If you claim that you don’t owe the debt and have proof that supports your claim, the case might be dropped, or the creditor might decide not to sue you. When you are contacted by a creditor, send them a certified letter that explains why you don’t think you owe the debt and copies of any proof you have supporting your claim.
Can a Debt Collection Lawsuit Be Defended?
There are defenses against debt collection lawsuits. First, you should respond. Even if you owe money, a response to the lawsuit is much more likely to get a negotiated settlement that is lower than the actual owed amount. Lawsuits can also be challenged. Ask for the creditor to provide the court with evidence of the debt and that they have the right to collect the debt in question. You can also ask the creditor to prove how much you owe. There is a statute of limitations for collecting a debt in most states, so you can always question if the statute of limitations has passed.
Consult With an FDCPA Attorney
If you are being sued for past due bills, consult with a FDCPA attorney. Complete our Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to get in contact with an attorney who can help you with your case.