What happens if you ignore a debt for too long? Can debt collectors take you to court? Read on to get the facts on debt collection lawsuits.
In June 2017, it was estimated that Americans collectively had $12.84 trillion in debt. That number is up nearly $552 billion from one year ago. If you have debt, you aren't alone.
There are a lot of people that struggle with debt every day, and many of them have trouble dealing with debt collectors. These collectors can be persistent, and some may use unscrupulous methods to pressure people into paying.
"Can debt collectors take you to court?" is a popular search because so many people are threatened with lawsuits and legal action every day. But the answer to this question may surprise you.
Can Debt Collectors Take You To Court?
There are certain things a debt collector legally can and can't do, and in some cases, they can take you to court. They may have the ability to sue you, but that doesn't mean that taking you to court is a simple process.
First, it's important to note that they can't threaten to sue you if they have no intention of doing so. Threatening legal action as a means of intimidation is strictly prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Act.
If you are being taken to court, you'll be formally informed by the collection agency. This will usually happen through certified mail or an in-person summons. After that, you'll receive your court date.
Being threatened over the phone with a lawsuit isn't the same as actually being formally summoned. Wait until you receive a formal notification before you worry about having to defend yourself in court.
Know Your Rights
You're asking the question "can debt collectors take you to court?", but you really should be asking "how can you protect yourself against collectors?".
Debt Collection agencies have a lot of rules to follow, and some things they're doing may not be legal. You need to educate yourself on what they can and can't do.
Debt Collectors Need Proof
If you're asked to pay off a debt you don't remember having, be sure to ask for proof of the debt. Under the Fair Debt Collection Act, you have the right to request proof of the debt.
The collector would need to come up with your complete payment history, a copy of the original agreement or application, and proof that the company contacting you actually owns the debt or has been assigned to collect it.
A creditor cannot collect the debt if they cannot validate it. If they do not send proof of the debt, you may not owe anything.
Debt Collectors Can't Harass You At Work
Some collectors may threaten to contact you at work about the lawsuit and tell co-workers about the debt you owe. The collectors making these threats are legally not allowed to subject people to embarrassment or humiliation.
If they contact you at work tell them to reach you at a different number and take note if they contact you at work again.
Debt Collectors Can't Take Certain Things
When you're in collections, everything isn't on the table. They may be able to garnish wages, but there are certain assets you have collection agencies shouldn't have access to.
Federal benefits like social security, disability, and veteran benefits can't be touched by collectors. In some states, they may also not have access to unemployment benefits and retirement accounts.
Do you feel like you're being harassed by collection agencies? Do you have other questions about debt collection? Contact us so we can help you handle collectors.