If you don’t pay a creditor, they can sue you in your county’s superior court. If they win this case, they may be able to garnish your wages, but you won’t go to jail. Because debtor’s prisons are illegal. If you want to know more, You can search court records for judgments.
To sue you, they must then serve you with a court summons. If you ignore it, it can result in a summary default judgment against you. It’s important to always respond to court notices.
This isn’t always easy. Sometimes process servers will serve you at old addresses. You may be deployed for the military, be in the hospital, taking care of family emergencies, or simply miss the notice.
Even worse, some collection agencies will hire law firms (or often are law firms themselves). So they’ll send collection notices with the law firm’s header to scare you into paying. These are not official court documents, that need to deliver to you either by certified mail (requiring a signature) or a process server.
What you do if you sued legally
To find out if you are being sued in court or have any judgments against you, call your county’s superior court. Most counties have online public records search you can also find by typing “____ County Court Records” and entering your first and last name into the court’s search engine.
If sued legally, contact the creditor listed as the plaintiff in the court summons. Even after entering a judgment, they are often willing to negotiate. Here’s documentation from a real client we successfully negotiated down $4000 of debt for:
Sued for a debt isn’t the end of the world. Because you can use all the documentation that you have in your defense. This includes payment records, hospital records, court records, and documentation of any collection efforts used against you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – documentation is the secret sauce to defending yourself against debt collectors. If you can prove they violated the law in collecting your debt, you can win the case against them.
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