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What do you do when the collections agency sues you?
September 4, 2012 11:31 PM   Subscribe

What to do when a collections agency is taking you to court and you don't have the money to pay them back?

My friend signed up for a recurring monthly service several years ago, thought she cancelled the service, and then moved out of the country. In the meantime, evidently, the service was still charging her and now a collection agency is suing her for a few thousand dollars and has served her with a summons to go to court.

She doesn't have the money to pay the debt -- she earns very little money and has a kid who she supports with no assistance from the father. If the court were to garnish her wages, I don't think she could keep up with basic living expenses.*

What is the next thing she should do? Try to negotiate a payment plan with the collections agency, like $30 a month forever? Go to court and show how broke she is and try to get the judge to create a payment plan? A lawyer would be nice, but how do you afford one when your initial problem is being totally broke? And is there anything else I'm missing?

We are in Oregon.

*It's hard for me to imagine the court would garnish her wages if it meant putting her and the kid out of their house and/or onto state assistance....?
posted by feets to Law & Government (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
- Does she have ANY proof she contacted them to cancel? Old cell phone records? Emails? Anything??

- She should NOT respond until speaking with a low cost or free legal service. Full stop. Anything she communicates could be used against her in court.

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This is not as bad as it seems if your friend handles it correctly. First of all, this predatory collection agency likely does not even have legal proof of her debt (google) so she might simply show up in court with the right stuff for the judge and have this thrown out of court. Really.

BUT

She needs legal guidance!!!

---
I had credit fraud, a predatory collection agency, and a lawsuit that did not specify the debt. I ignored it because I did not know I owed anyone money or had been scammed. Eventually, it became a judgement against me. I got a lawyer, tried to negotiate it for a year, choose bankruptcy over fighting the false judgement because it was a sure-fire way to make sure the thieves pursuing me did not get a dime, and it was cheaper.

My lawyer told me, "If you had first contacted me when you had been served, I could have had this knocked out of court for good."
----

Your friend needs free or inexpensive legal counsel, not the internet. And not one of those shifty credit collection outfits, either, but actual legal representation.

It is a simple thing to handle with the correct help. Otherwise? Not so much.

Get the correct help.
posted by jbenben at 11:46 PM on September 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, attorney stat. Memail me if you are in Portland and need a recommendation.
posted by violetk at 1:07 AM on September 5, 2012


Ok, thanks. I memailed Violetk and will tell my friend to call the legal aid clinic near us.
posted by feets at 1:29 AM on September 5, 2012


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