Sued by {db}? These 7 Mistakes Could Damage Your Case.

If {db} has filed a lawsuit against you, it’s time to get serious about dealing with your debt. Don’t assume it will just go away, or that they can’t win because you have no assets. They can do plenty of damage if you don’t fight back, even garnishing your wages or your bank account until the debt is paid in full.

Here are the most damaging mistakes consumers make in dealing with {db} lawsuits, along with a little advice on how to avoid these errors.

1. Procrastination

Once you learn that {db} has filed a debt lawsuit against you, respond quickly. You will have 14 – 20 days from the date of service of the initial summons to do so. Don’t spend 13-19 days pretending it isn’t happening before you rush out a last-minute response. If it’s not adequate, or key information is missing, you’ll have no time to revise. Start working on your response as soon as you receive your summons.

{db} is actually counting on you to get bogged down by denial and procrastination. In fact they’ll be quite happy if you never respond at all. Once the filing date has passed, their lawyers can request a default judgment, awarding {db} the full amount you owe plus any fees and penalties they’ve added. And if you haven’t met the deadline, they will get it.

2. Financial TMI

Consumers sometimes panic during a debt lawsuit and offer way too much information about their personal finances, even more than the court requires. This is not how you should approach the discovery phase of a {db} lawsuit.

Never provide them with more information than they ask for, and make sure their requests for documents are justified by the circumstances of the case. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney before you give {db} any of the following:

  • Tax returns
  • Bank statements
  • Investment or trust account information
  • Retirement or pension account information
  • Life insurance information
  • Records on alimony or child support received

In general, your responses should be limited in scope and based on your current income and ability to pay. You do not owe {db} records that cover the entirety of your financial life, especially if they have no relevance to your case.

3. Making requests or responses by phone

Once {db} has filed a lawsuit against you, all further communication with them should take place in writing. Contacting their lawyers by phone – to respond to the suit, answer questions, or negotiate a settlement – is not advised at this stage. Here’s why:

  • You may unknowingly share information that could damage your case.
  • The court does not consider a phone call a valid response to a summons, or to written information requests from {db}’s lawyers.
  • Making a settlement agreement by phone won’t help you case – you have get it in writing. Until that happens, you’re still on the hook for the full amount.

Anytime you are facing a debt lawsuit, or any other type of legal action, it’s good to remember that old saying “if it isn’t written down it didn’t happen.” An attorney can help you navigate the communication process with {db} and handle any negotiation needed on your behalf.

4. Continuing to Make Payments

{db} engages in many unfair debt collection practices, like filing lawsuits against consumers who are already on a payment plan. In other words, {db} while you are actively making payments on your debt.

Surprisingly, many consumers will continue to make payments even after {db} files suit. If this is your situation, you may feel that sticking to the payment schedule is a show of good faith, and a way to demonstrate to the court that you are trying to address the debt. While a judge may take this into account, here’s why your sacrifice may not be worth it in the end.

  • Monthly payments do not prevent {db} from proceeding with the suit, charging you fees or penalties on unpaid balances, or winning a judgment that allows wage or bank account garnishment.
  • Ongoing payments could hurt your cause if they create a financial strain, especially if they keep you from hiring an attorney or paying court costs.
  • If {db} offers you a settlement, their focus will be on the unpaid balance. You are not likely to receive credit for payments made before or during the lawsuit.
  • If your case is dismissed or dropped for lack of evidence, you might not have to repay the debt at all.

5. Confirming the debt

Don’t be so quick to confirm the dollar amount that {db} says you owe, even if you believe it might be accurate. This may seem like a small admission, and you may trust their numbers more than your memory. But what you’re really agreeing to is that you should pay every penny they’re asking for, which may include fees and penalties.

Failure to dispute the amount of the debt, or even ownership of the debt, is one of the most common mistakes consumers make when they represent themselves in a debt lawsuit. Athletes don’t admit defeat before the game is played or the race is run, but this is exactly what you’re doing when you confirm a debt without proof of its accuracy.

6. Skipping the most important question

One of the most important legal rights consumers have with regard to debt collection and debt lawsuits is one they routinely fail to exercise – the right to request that creditors and debt collectors verify the amount they wish to collect is accurate.

You may assume that since a lawsuit has been filed, {db} must have the paperwork to back it up. And {db} definitely assumes that you’ll never ask to see it. But there’s a really good reason you should. They might be bluffing.

{db} only buys a limited amount of information about your debt, which does not usually include the support documents they need to justify their actions in court. But since courts do not independently verify this information, the only way you’ll know if they’re bluffing is to ask for the paperwork yourself.

If {db} can’t justify the amount they’re trying to collect, their options become limited. They usually settle or just drop the suit. So it pays to ask questions.

7. Going it alone

Only a fraction of consumers sued by {db} ever hire an attorney, and for many, this ends up being the biggest mistake of all. Consumers who go it alone in responding to a debt lawsuit usually do so because they believe they can’t afford legal representation. However, they often end up spending more money when {db} prevails in the case.

All of the mistakes mentioned above can easily be avoided simply by having experienced legal council on your side. The John G. Helstowski Law Firm defends consumers dealing with {db} debt lawsuits on a regular basis. We know the accounting tricks and scare tactics their lawyers will use, and how to hold them accountable.

You don’t have to face {db} alone. Contact us for a free consultation.