Someone bought my debt and now they are SUING me! CAN THEY DO THAT???
Remember, debt arises from contracts – contracts with lenders: a credit card for example or a personal or car loan. A debt is your contractual promise to repay what you may owe. That contract can be sold.
Once your original creditor determines that repayment is not coming, they will “charge off” the account. A “charge off” is an internal accounting procedure for the creditor – but YOU STILL OWE the debt. At this point the creditor may decide to pursue through collections (a 3rd party who does not own the debt but will try to collect) or sell the debt to a debt buyer.
There is a market for debt – generally unsecured debt (not secured by a car or land). The debt buyer may pay 5-7 cents on the dollar. So, for example, on a $10,000 debt the debt buyer would pay just $500-700 to the original creditor. But they still have the LEGAL right collect the full $10,000.
Who are these debt buyers?
Many are extremely wealthy individuals or private equity funds who have found a way to purchase debt for cheap and use our court system to compel people to pay up – people who generally don’t know how the court system works or what rights they have to defend themselves in a debt lawsuit.
You can be sued by a debt buyer even though you never had a contract with directly them. To win the lawsuit, the debt buyer must prove the contractual promise you made to the original creditor, and them proved that they bought the debt. If they win, the court awards a judgment. This means the judge agrees that the debt is owed. And must be paid.
Not only that, by winning a judgment against you, the debt buyer now also receives 10% interest per year on the amount unpaid and the statute of limitations (the deadline for when a case has to be brought to court) is satisfied – so now the debt buyer has potentially up to THIRTY years to collect.
THIRTY YEARS? THAT’S CRAZY!
Yes, it is, but it’s also true. Judgments in California are good for ten years and can be renewed twice.
Additionally, when a judgment is awarded against you, the debt buyer can be given a “writ of execution” which allows them to garnish your wages or even drain you bank account WITHOUT NOTICE. Imagine finding out that your rent check just bounced because your bank account balance is zero.
Debt validation – sometimes people think that they can request “validation” on their debt and somehow escape liability if the creditor never responds. This is not true. It is a violation of the law to fail to response to you, but it doesn’t stop a lawsuit or dismiss your debt. You still owe.
Additionally, your debt can be sold and resold many times. The number of times that a debt is sold or resold doesn’t matter. However, your chances of aggressively challenging the documentation of the debt can increase as debt is passed around from buyer to buyers.
WHAT CAN I DO?
The best response is to aggressively defend your case with knowledgeable attorneys who focus in this area. The Fullman Firm can help you identify every possible advantage that you can use to minimize or even totally avoid judgement. On your behalf, Fullman Firm attorneys can deny liability and go through the litigation process while opening settlement discussions. We can demand documents and examine the strength of their case – hopefully identifying problems in the documentation or other ways to strengthen your defense. We may be able to apply pressure to win you a settlement that is far less than what you may owe – often less than half or even a third of the debt.
The Fullman Firm is California’s leading debt relief law firm. Our reputation as tough negotiators can often make the difference in winning a positive outcome for our clients.
If you have been contacted by a debt buyer or are being sued for a debt, contact the Fullman Firm for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: All cases are different. Your case may differ from the matters in which these results were obtained and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merit. Past resolutions do not guarantee future results.