Being sued by one of your creditors or a debt collection agency can have you feeling stressed and overmatched, especially if you know you owe the debt in question. There are always defenses you may raise at your court hearing, though. This blog lays out six common defenses to a collection lawsuit that may prove useful in your case.
- Insufficient documentation of your debt. The documentation (or lack thereof) that a creditor or collection agency has regarding your debt can work in your favor when you are defending yourself in a collection lawsuit. Collection agencies and debt buyers occasionally do not receive forms that sufficiently document your debt. If the entity that is attempting to collect does not have the right forms to show that the debt actually exists, they generally do not have a case.
- Creditors not showing up to your hearing. Many debt buyers and credit card companies are understaffed, leading to absences at collection hearings. If you dispute your debt and the other side does not send a representative to court, you have a good chance of getting your case dismissed.
- Your debts were discharged in bankruptcy. As long as a specific debt was discharged due to a personal bankruptcy filing and you reported the debt as required, collectors may not pursue collection of that debt. You may assert bankruptcy discharge as an absolute defense in your debt collection lawsuit.
- Statute of limitations. Creditors and debt collectors have a certain time period in which they may pursue your debt. Fortunately, the statute of limitations in Texas is only four years for verbal and written contracts – though some types of accounts may be exceptions to this rule. Be careful about actions related to a debt, though; if you make payments on a debt, then the statute of limitations may begin anew.
- Service was improper. Process servers must adhere to certain rules and requirements in order to ensure individuals are properly served with civil litigation papers. For instance, servers are generally not allowed to leave legal papers with a neighbor and consider the subject sufficiently served. Texas has its own Rules of Civil Procedure that govern process servers. If you suspect that the service process did not follow state law, you might be able to use this as a defense against your creditor.
- You paid (or have made arrangements to pay) your debt. Keeping all documents related to your debt is essential to raising this defense in a debt collection suit. This defense might be successful even if the creditor did not receive a payment you made.
Contact an Experienced Texas Consumer Attorney
Every debt collection case is unique. To successfully use one of the defenses described above, you need to retain an attorney who has experience taking on creditors and collection agencies. Reach out to Ciment Law Firm, a compassionate and personable consumer law firm, to see how we can help.