Three Things NOT To Do When Being Sued By a Debt Collector
Consumer Advocate Bud Hibbs, a debt collection expert and consultant for over 25 years who has written several books, is approved to teach CLE (Continuing Legal Education) courses through the State Bar of Texas and has appeared in numerous radio and television programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, says that consumers should not do the following three things when being sued for a debt by a debt collector:
- Never give creditors access to your bank account. This is a major area in the "don't" column - and it's something that gets my blood boiling because I know that before the day is over, I'm going to get three or four calls about this. Many people will do that and say, 'Well, he's only going to take $100 out.' But, then they'll call and say, 'Well, my check went in and he took $1,200 out instead.' They'll want to hire a lawyer and sue the company, but a lawyer can't do much in that situation because you gave the company permission. So, now it becomes your word against theirs. If you don't have anything in writing or didn't record the call, you can't do much. So, don't trust them to do the right thing in the first place.
- Don't assume creditors can take your money. I want to warn consumers about this, that if they receive social security, whether it's due to being disabled or due to age, social security income is exempt from seizure under federal law. That means if they sue you and come after you, you have to make them aware of the source of your income. You have to make the bank aware, you have to make the collector aware; and once you make them aware that you're on social security, they cannot legally touch it. If you do make them aware and they go after it, you can hire an attorney and take action against them and most of the time, you'll collect some money. We have a huge army of aging seniors that baby boomers are taking care of today. Mom and dad are sitting at home. A lot of them have maxed out their credit cards to get medicines and things that their Medicare/Medicaid doesn't pay for and the collectors are coming after them and just absolutely wiping them out.
- Never ignore lawsuits. The majority of lawsuits that are filed end up in default judgment because the consumer never shows up. The biggest thing I hear from consumers is, 'I can't afford a lawyer and, gosh, I did have a Visa or a MasterCard at some point, so I don't have any defense.' Yes, you do. You have a defense based on who's suing you. If it's the original creditor, like a Citibank, it's one story; but, if it's a junk debt buyer, a bottom feeder, it's a different story altogether.
If you are being harassed by a debt collector, contact an attorney whose practice focuses on issues relating to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. Click here, to contact an experienced debtor's rights lawyer. We may be able to help.