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Ask for proof of debt when a debt collector files a lawsuit

People in Texas may have options for defending themselves when sued by debt collectors. If a debtor takes no action to respond to a lawsuit, a judge will side with the plaintiff, who is the debt collector. The resulting judgment could give the collector the right to garnish the debtor's wages or seize his or her assets. To potentially prevent this default judgment, a debtor could demand that the plaintiff show documentation that proves the right to sue in the first place.

Many creditors sell debts to collection agencies that then sue debtors. These debts might change hands multiple times, which introduces the possibility that a plaintiff might not have the records to back up a debt claim. To challenge a plaintiff, a debtor must first respond to the lawsuit within the deadline, usually three or four weeks from the date of the papers being served. This response takes the form of a formal Answer or legal brief filed with the applicable court. In this document, a debtor should never admit responsibility for a debt. Instead, the Answer should demand proof.

A plaintiff must then show the judge a credit agreement with the debtor's signature and also produce paperwork that shows the transfer of debt ownership from the original creditor. A collector's case might also be further undermined by demands for records that detail the purchases and fees owed by the debtor. Any holes in records about the credit transactions could void a collector's case.

A person could gain specific advice about a lawsuit by talking to an attorney. A legal evaluation could prepare a debtor to respond in court. For someone experiencing overwhelming financial troubles, a lawyer might suggest bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing could halt collection efforts and relieve a person of debts that are impossible to repay.

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