If you receive a claim for payment of a debt, whether in the form of a claim letter or a complaint against you filed in court, you must respond promptly and carefully. You can formulate your answer in different ways. You must take into account the validity of the claim, your ability to pay, your chances of winning when you go to court and the possibility of declaring bankruptcy. If you choose to take the case to court, make sure you comply with all legal procedures and requirements.
Negotiate the dispute
1 Review the claim or complaint in detail. Once you have received a claim, whether it is an early claim for payment or a complaint already filed in court, you must carefully review it. Compare the question with your own documents, receipts, notes or any record you may have.
- 2 Consider your options. Knowing that the debt is yours and what you ask is accurate means your options are limited. If you do not believe the question is correct, find out what happened and solve the problem before it reaches big cases.
- Pay the debt if it is indeed yours and you have the means to do it. If the question is exactly and you can pay the debt, it’s best to do so and end the dispute. If you pay all the debt, make sure you require a receipt from the creditor where the entire payment is verified. When you send the payment, include a letter indicating the following: “I understand that this payment will refund the outstanding debt completely.”
- Negotiate a lower payment. You may assume that your fault is, but you do not have the means to pay it off. If you contact the creditor, they may agree to pay a smaller amount or make some payments over a period of time. Take care during this stage of negotiations and do not acknowledge anything that the creditor can use against you in court. It is advisable to have legal aid in this case.
- Challenge the debt if it is wrong. If you do not agree with the lawsuit, you must respond in writing. Assuming that you owe a smaller amount, say it, as the creditor can accept it as a final decision. If you completely dispute the debt, ask the creditor to explain the claim with all the documents it can prove. Be polite with your answer and make clear the facts that are disputed.
- 3 Consult a lawyer. When it comes to legal issues like this, it is advisable to have professional advice and support. If you can afford a lawyer or if you can go to a legal aid service, you must do so. It is more beneficial for a lawyer to call a creditor on your behalf, as the latter will be more likely to respond positively and rationally. If you call on your own, you will probably be offended.
- 4 Get in touch with the creditor and give him an agreement. Depending on the creditor and the amount in dispute, you can contact by telephone or in writing. If you confirm the initial contact by phone, always confirm everything in writing.
- For example, if the owner of the residence has been hearing you for a month’s rent, this is a very small problem. You can communicate with him by phone, talk about the subject and reach an agreement.
- If the question comes from a $ 15,000 credit card debt company, it’s another matter. For the amount you have to give your answer in writing. If you have a lawyer, he can contact the collection office directly to discuss what is due, but if you report on your own, you will probably not be treated favorably. Keep everything in writing.
- 5 Request a signed receipt or agreement. If you solve the claim, either by paying all the debt, part of it or not at all (if the creditor agrees that you are not owed the money), you must make it in writing. Avoid this problem again in a year and do everything again.
Respond to the question
1 Post a response to the complaint. Even if you are trying to negotiate a debt decision, if the creditor has filed a complaint against you, start preparing a response. For example, in most states of the United States you only have 20 or 30 days to file a reply in court. If you do not send a response within the deadline, the creditor may receive a default judgment against you, and you will lose any opportunity to challenge the claim.
- 2 Answer every statement of the complaint. The complaint must be written in a format that makes legal statements in paragraphs that are individually listed. In your answer, follow the same numbering system and respond briefly and concisely to each plea. In some cases, your answers may be as short as “Allowed” or “Deny.” If you want to add something to your answer, you can do it.
- 3 Offer any affirmative defense to the claim. In the answer you can also make known an affirmative defense. It is your reason to acknowledge or deny the plaintiff’s allegations, to substantiate your claim that the debt is not yours. Some standard affirmative defenses are as follows:
- There is a deal agreement. In other words, it means you believe that the debt has already been settled or settled. Provide information that supports your defense, such as the time you paid, the amount you provided, and who received the payment.
- Lack of consideration This is a legal phrase in the law of contract, which means that the plaintiff does not give what he was guilty of in return for your debt.
- Prescription. This can be the most used defense. If the debt is very old, the plaintiff may have lost the opportunity to apply to collect the debt in court. The period that a creditor must owe on most credit cards or contracts varies depending on the location, but usually ranges from 3 to 10 years. If a good time has passed since issuing the debt, you can use it in your defense.
- 4 Send your reply to the complainant as well as a copy to the clerk’s office. Make sure you send a copy of your reply to the complainant within the time limit set by the court rules. The quote you receive with the initial report must have the date of your reply. It also carries a signed copy with you along with your other documents.
Continue the question
1 Make the discovery process of tests. This process is part of the lawsuit where each party has the opportunity to request information from each other. Contrary to what happens in movies and television, there should be no surprises for anyone during a trial. During the discovery process, parties have the right to ask questions, review documents and evidence and ask witnesses.
- The quotes in this section are mostly subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This is the series of rules governing preparation for trial in federal court. Each state has a similar set of civil procedure rules. You must familiarize yourself with the rules that the court controls where your case is presented.
- 2 Send inquiries to learn more about your opponent’s case. You have the opportunity to ask the plaintiff between 25 and 30 questions about the case. This should be designed to better understand the evidence the plaintiff has, the witnesses he plans to call during the trial, and the others you need to know to prepare your defense. Below you will see some typical questions you might ask in the questionnaires:
- “What contracts do you have that pledge on the part of the defendant? Identify each contract by date, names of the signing parties and a brief description of its purpose.”
- “Identify all the witnesses you plan to attend at the hearing, with name, occupation, relationship with the complainant and a brief description of your evidence regarding the case.”
- 3 Request documents to obtain copies of relevant documentation. In most jurisdictions, you have the permission to provide the complainant with an unlimited request (within reason) to provide your copies of the documents. The claimant has 30 days to respond to your request.
- Then it can be an example of a document request: “Provide the original document, as well as any copy of all the contracts you may have that may be required by the defendant.” It will be up to you and your lawyer whether you really need the original document. In some cases, for example, if the truth of your signature is in doubt, you can examine the original document, analyze the ink, and so on.
- 4 If you think it’s necessary, consider the possibility of making a deposit. A deposit is an opportunity to call a witness or a party to the case and ask questions directly. This is useful if someone is likely to have important information about the matter, beyond what you can get in 30 interrogations. However, a deposit can be expensive because you have to pay a court reporter to make a copy of the installment, which can cost a few hundred dollars. Before you take this action, keep in mind what you can get and make sure it is the time and cost.
- 5 Respond in time to the plaintiff’s requests for the discovery of evidence. At the same time, prepare your case and send out requests for discovery evidence (if you prefer), the claimant can send you the same type of request. Make sure you answer it in time, otherwise court may impose sanctions on you. The possible sanctions include monetary fines, an order to accuse your contempt, or even lose the opportunity to present certain points in your defense during the trial. Do not treat this process lightly.
- 6 Prepare for the trial after completing the discovery process. After completing the discovery process, you will probably receive a court notice for a pre-trial meeting or conference. It’s a time for you and the plaintiff to meet with the judge and plan the trial. Everyone will be asked to present lists of witnesses and witnesses, as well as to prepare an agreed statement of legal and factual matters to be decided in the trial. Generally, this is a good opportunity to establish a final agreement.
- 7 Go to the trial. At the hearing, the plaintiff will submit his information and evidence so that you can do the same. Depending on the court you attend, there may be a jury, as well as the possibility of making an opening statement. If it is a small claims court, everyone should limit himself to submitting the information and evidence they have. However, if the amount in dispute is greater, you can go to a higher court with more formalities. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will dictate his decision.
- 8 Handle a negative court order as soon as possible. If you won the trial and the debt has to be eliminated, it is excellent. But if the verdict is against you, instead of a “regular” debt, you will have a formal court order against you. If possible, pay off the debt as soon as possible. Under certain circumstances, your debt may accrue interest immediately. A court decision will be valid for up to 20 years, depending on where it was issued.
- 9 Consider the possibility of reaching an agreement after the court ruling. Once a sentence has been set against you, your chances of convincing the creditor to pay less than the amount owed will be lower. A creditor who won a court ruling has a greater ability to own non-exempt assets that you may own, including bank accounts, your property, cars or other things. If you can reach an agreement, it’s possible that you avoid it. Depending on your financial situation, a reasonable creditor may be prepared to accept a reasonable agreement. If you have limited resources or earnings, the creditor can realize that there are limits to the collection. Contact the creditor again and present a portion of the verdict at the hearing. The creditor may be prepared to accept a payment plan at intervals, if reasonable.
Consider the possibility of declaring bankruptcy
1 Weigh the intensity of your justification. When a creditor submits a claim or complaint against you, you must consider the validity of the document. If this is a valid claim, the trial can only be a waste of time. You may need to file a bankruptcy statement to get rid of the debt, as well as others you may have.
- 2 Compare your assets and liabilities in general. In many cases, a single lawsuit by a single creditor is often the point of the iceberg because more similar lawsuits will soon appear. You must evaluate your assets and liabilities in a realistic manner. Add everything you own, including your home, vehicle, property, person of value and bank accounts. Then list all your debts, such as college loans, personal loans, car loans, mortgages and outstanding credit card accounts. If the debts exceed your assets, it might be a good idea to declare bankruptcy.
- 3 Consult a bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy is a fairly straightforward legal process, but it is always a good idea to seek the help of a professional. If you have not yet hired a lawyer, it may be a good time to do so. If you don’t know anyone, you can contact the bankruptcy clerk’s office. Sometimes you can find a list of attorneys who accept upcoming cases or deliver services free of charge or at a low price.
- 4 Compile the documentation to submit your bankruptcy petition. There are many documents to complete and submit to initiate a bankruptcy case. They consist of a single page known as a “bankruptcy petition” and then several “forms” listing your assets, creditors, outstanding loans and other forms of financial information.
- 5 Work with the trustee and get your resignation. The trustee is someone appointed by the court to review your records, investigate any inaccuracy or lack of information and determine whether you are entitled to receive your dismissal. The dismissal is the final order that gets all your debt. As long as you are honest and cooperative, there is a good chance that after a few months you will receive your dismissal.
- 6 Keep in mind the consequences of bankruptcy. The positive aspect of a bankruptcy is that your debt will in most cases be canceled. You will have a new beginning and you will not owe anything. Probably, your creditworthiness will suffer a negative decline. However, in many cases, the credit rating begins a short while later, because if you don’t have debt, your credit risk gets better again. It will depend on you not to repeat what has happened before.
- Find out about your rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act determines the methods of debt collection. Collectors may not call you before 8 a. m. or after 9 pm They may not contact you while you are at work if they know that your employer does not allow personal calls. It is possible that they will not harm you, lie, use unfair practices and if you request a formal request to stop contacting you, they must respect it. If a creditor deliberately violates any of these conditions, you can use it as a defense that does not allow you to pay. your credit report