Unfortunately, there may come a time when your creditors decide court is the only option left for them to collect your debt. Even if you have been paying off some of your outstanding balance, the creditor might decide to show you no mercy. To begin the process, you will be served with a summons notifying you of the lawsuit and when you are obligated to appear in court, similar to most other civil matters.
The lawsuit might be brought against you by the original creditor, a debt-collection agency, or a debt buyer. Depending on the nature and amount of your debt, you will appear in state or federal court. If the creditor is attempting to collect a sum less than $10,000 from you, you will likely be served a summons to small-claims court. Regardless of the entity that files the complaint against you, there are a number of common defenses available to you.
- Incomplete Records Kept by Creditors. This defense is much more likely to be effective against debt buyers, as your original creditor is almost sure to have complete and accurate records documenting your debt. However, due to creditors’ contracting out debt collection to third parties, there is a chance that the third party does not receive all necessary paperwork. An experienced attorney will be able to discern whether or not you may be able to invoke this defense in your situation.
- Missed Deadlines. Statute of limitations is not just for criminal cases; timeframes exist for debt collection, as well. Fortunately, Texas has a comparatively short statute of limitations for debt collection: four years (generally). Certain actions, like your beginning to pay off the debt, can restart the countdown. You should promptly contact an attorney for guidance on your debt’s applicable statute of limitations before you take any other action.
- Previous Discharge through Bankruptcy. You might be in for a huge relief if you previously filed for and was granted bankruptcy. As long as you went through the proper process for Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or other type of bankruptcy and can show your debt was documented and discharged, you have a good chance of invoking this defense in court. If you have not already filed for bankruptcy, it could be in your best interest to default if your creditor pursues a lawsuit.
Receiving a summons in the mail to appear in court isn’t your best day. This can happen even if you previously took good-faith measures to settle your debt. If you want to take steps to help put your financial perils behind you, call us today at (833) 779-9993 to get started on your free consultation.