Surprise, you’re being sued
Finding out you are being sued by anyone, especially a debt collector, is a stressful and scary situation. I know, I’ve been there. Keep in mind that the steps you take in response to the lawsuit may dictate your financial future for many years to come. Although financial times might be difficult for you right now, they may not always be this way. If you do nothing in response to the debt collection lawsuit, you may be facing a default judgment that will be collectable down the road when your financial situation starts looking better. When you get back on your feet, the last thing you want is for your wages or bank account to be garnished or to have a judgment prevent you from getting your new home. Deal with it now and move on with your life.
Contemplate your options and don’t do anything out of panic. Sometimes, people panic when they are served with a debt collection lawsuit and they just want the lawsuit to go away as fast as possible. They call the debt collector lawyer’s office and attempt to strike a settlement to avoid going to court. Obviously, you are not in a powerful negotiating position; they know you are calling because you were served with their lawsuit and you are desperate. Resolving the matter out of desperation may cost you a lot of money and headache down the road. Nothing you do will change the fact that a lawsuit has been filed against you. The matter is public record. You are better served by contemplating your options and developing a plan.
MAKE A PLAN
Generally, when you are served with a debt collection lawsuit in Georgia, you have thirty days to file your response to the lawsuit (an “Answer”) with the clerk of court. Simply calling the debt collector lawyer’s office to discuss possible settlement arrangements does not alleviate your responsibilities as a defendant to file a timely Answer with the court and show up for court when you are directed if you want to avoid a default judgment against you. Determine the exact date you were served and mark it on the calendar. Then count out thirty days from there and mark that date on the calendar. Before that 30th day arrives, you need to have a plan for what you are going to do. If you care about your financial future, your plan will not be to simply ignore the lawsuit. Call me and we can discuss your options. I give free consultations.
IDENTIFY THE DEBT
Determine whether you can identify the debt for which you are being sued. The lawsuit likely has very little information about the debt attached to it, but it may be enough to match it up with other documentation you may have. Do you have any statements from the original creditors that may show an account balance or account number? Have you pulled your free credit report lately to see what accounts are listed there? Did you keep any collection letters to help track where this debt came from? Even if you identify the debt as being yours, this does not mean you don’t have defenses available to you in the lawsuit.