You’ve Been Sued by a Debt Collector – Now What? How a Debt Collection-Defense Attorney Can Help.
How do you know that you’re being sued by a debt collector? In Massachusetts a lawsuit is started when you are served with two documents, a “summons” and a “complaint.”
The county sheriff is usually the one who serves the summons and complaint. It does not have to be given to you personally. It can just be left at your place of residence, or what the court rule calls your “last and usual place of abode.” It is typically left in your mailbox or inside the door.
The summons lets you know that the lawsuit has started, and tells you that you have 20 days to respond. The complaint tells you what the lawsuit is about. Here is an example that has been redacted: Massachusetts debt collections summons and complaint.
Avoid a Default Judgment
If you do not respond to the complaint within 20 days, the debt collector can ask for a “default judgment.” This is a judgment entered against you without their having to prove that you owe the debt. Only by defending the lawsuit can you prevent this.
So the best time to talk to an attorney about your debt collection lawsuit is right after you have been served with the summons and complaint. This gives the attorney time to prepare a response within 20 days so that there is no default judgment entered against you.
Make the Debt Collector Prove It
A good collection-defense attorney should make the debt collector prove it. Debt collectors need to show whether (or not) they actually own the debt. In most cases brought by debt buyers, they do not have enough evidence to go to trial. Culik Law, a Massachusetts debt collection-defense attorney, has dealt with virtually all major debt buyers. We make specific requests to obtain these documents — or to get them to admit they don’t have the documents.
Major Debt Collectors
Some of the major debt buyers operating in Massachusetts are Midland Funding, LVNV Funding, Unifund, Cavalry Portfolio Services, Cavalry SPV, CACH, Portfolio Recovery Associates, and Waterfront Capital. Culik Law has dealt with them all, and has even filed class actions where they engaged in widespread wrongdoing.
National Association of Consumer Advocates
Your debt collection-defense attorney should also be a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA). NACA is a non-profit association of attorneys who have pledged never to represent businesses against consumers. Culik Law has been a member of NACA since the firm started.
After your debt collection defense attorney has confirmed that the debt collector doesn’t have enough documentation, there are two options. You can file a motion to dismiss the debt collector’s case, or you can go to trial. Either way, it is extremely likely that the collector won’t have enough evidence to keep the case going. This can lead to a low settlement, or even outright dismissal of the case.
Culik Law also seeks out potential defenses based on consumer protection laws like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (93A). We have uncovered violations of both these laws in the course of defending consumers and used them as leverage against debt collectors.
Culik Law defends Massachusetts consumers in collection suits against debt collectors and debt buyers. If you’ve been sued, don’t wait — give us a call to see if we can help.