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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What to Do When You are Being Sued for Arizona Credit Card Debt

If a credit card owner has incurred considerable amounts of unpaid bills, the bank or the card agency has the right to sue the cardholder also known as the ‘debtor’. If you are being sued for credit card debt in Arizona, you will first be served a “summons” for a state or federal court case. When you receive the initial notification for summons, the important thing is not to panic. Credit card debt lawsuits go through several phases and there are plenty of ways you can defend yourself effectively with the right attorney. Breathe deeply and relax.

Immediate Action Following Summons

When you have received a summons to court over a credit card debt lawsuit, don’t delay taking action. Most of all, do not ignore the summons. If you do, the suing party (the bank most likely) can obtain a judgment against you in your absence. By ignoring the case, you will not be able to argue your case in front of a judge. The judgment against you could allow the creditor to infiltrate your wages or savings to use as payment towards the credit card debt. Therefore, don’t wait to respond to the summons.  Even if you owe all of the money, you should respond in writing to the court.

If you were served the summons within the state of Arizona, you will be given 20 days to respond. If the summons were served when you were out of state, then you get 30 days to respond. Hire a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale during this time to file your case without missing the deadline.

How to Respond to Summons

Once you have an attorney, he or she will guide you through the process of responding to the summons appropriately. There’s a misunderstanding that responding to the summons means showing up in court on the given date. In fact, Arizona law requires defendants in debt cases to file a written response. You must write to the court before the deadline to avoid a default judgment as described above.

How Long will the Case Go On?

This depends on where the lawsuit is filed. In Arizona, there are two types of courts that handle debt-related lawsuits: the Justice Court and the Superior Court. Lawsuits for disputed amounts less than $10,000 go to the Justice Court while anything more than this will be taken to the Superior Court.

Justice Court is a small claims court where the lawsuits tend to move faster. Due to this reason, some creditors file lawsuits stating a limit of $10,000 but without including the interest and other costs. Lawsuits filed in the Superior Court can be complex so trials take longer to conclude. It’s worthwhile to check whether the creditor has filed the case in the right court as part of your defense strategy.

Formulating the Defense Strategy

There are several ways an experienced defense attorney can approach a debt collection lawsuit. Even if the case goes to trial, your lawyer can negotiate with the creditor for a debt settlement. The settlement may involve trying to reduce the total amount owed. If the debt is overwhelming, you might have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which case a court may discharge credit card debt. This is not the ideal scenario for a creditor, so the settlement is always an option.

A skilled attorney would also consider more technical aspects of the lawsuit that may offer you relief. For example, an attorney may check whether the summons for the trial was properly served. Other aspects, such as double-checking documentation the creditor provides, will be part of the defense strategy aimed at getting you the best outcome.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Deal with Debt Collection Companies

Most Arizonians don’t know what to do when a debt collection company calls. The law does allow creditors or collection companies to call debtors and attempt to retrieve money owned. However, there are state and federal laws regarding which practices are allowed and which are explicitly prohibited. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act both stipulate what some attorney’s call “debtor’s rights.” When a collection company calls you, it’s important to know what rights you have against creditor abuse and malpractice.

When a Collector Calls

When a collection company calls you, they cannot demand that you pay the debt without informing you of several fundamental things. After the first call, the collection company has five days to inform you of the amount of debt that you owe and the name of the creditor to whom you owe the debt. If a collection company calls you demanding “payment” without specifying either of these, you have a fair case you can make against the collection company. You should contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale if a collection company keeps calling without specifying the debt.

You can Contest the Debt

Most debtors are unaware that they can call into question the validity of a debt. Once a collection company calls you notifying you of a debt, you have 30 days to dispute the debt. If you doubt the validity of the debt, you can make a statement disputing the collection company’s claim. Once you have written to the creditor or the collection company, the parties should issue a statement in return verifying the debt in another 30 days. If you don’t get this verification statement after you issue a dispute, then the debt is very likely invalid.

When Creditors Don’t Match

Sometimes creditors sell debt. So some of your debt could be owned by a different creditor than the original person or entity you borrowed from. If the current creditor is different, then the collection agency must issue a statement with the name and address of the original creditor. If you don’t recognize the creditor of a debt, you must issue a statement and have the collecting agency specify the creditor’s identity. It’s important to note that the collection company cannot call you or try to retrieve a debt before notifying you who the original creditor is. You must get the verification as a written statement too.

Don’t Let Them Verbally Advise You

Some collection agencies may try to verbally tell you who the original creditor is, what amount of debt is owed, and other such factors. This is an attempt by collection companies to avoid issuing written statements. Documents can be upheld in court. If you get a verbal statement, the collection company can always change the story if the case goes to trial. Therefore, you must have physical statements mailed to you. Debtors have the legal right to such.

Collection companies that don’t adhere to the rules can be taken to court. In some cases, your debt may be waived and the court may demand the collection company to pay your attorney’s fees as well.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Protect Yourself against Creditor Harassment in Arizona

If you are far behind on a loan payment, you can expect the collection calls to start. However, if the collection calls are very frequent and disrupt your life, or the calls are threatening in any manner, then it can be considered harassment. Many indebted Arizonians face harassing calls and other harmful collection efforts from creditors. Here are several steps you can take to stop the abuse.

Try to Negotiate with the Creditor

The easiest and cost-free solution you can take is to try to negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt. Instead of not picking up the phone, in which case the creditor will find other ways to reach you, or ignoring calls, talk to the creditor directly. If your finances are too tight to pay back your loans, discuss it with your creditor and you may be able to come to new terms. Depending on your negotiating skills, and the creditor’s willingness, you may be able to get a payment extension, a reduced interest rate or a waiver or both.

If the creditor is particularly abusive, it is probably best not to engage should the behavior gets worse on the part of the creditor.

Call a Lawyer Immediately

It’s highly recommended to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale or your local area to put a legal stop to harmful third party collection efforts. There are attorneys who specialize in providing relief to those who suffer from abusive creditors. No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot harass you as a part of their collection efforts. There are both federal and Arizona state laws to protect debtors against harassing creditors.

Protection is granted to consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law outlines personal rights when it comes to debt collection practices. You can consult with a lawyer to find out whether any of your rights under FDCPA has been violated. The lawyer will be able to tell you if the behavior you have endured from the creditor can be considered a legitimate collection effort and what remedies you may have under the FDCPA.

You Can Sue if You are a Victim of Abusive Practices

If you know that you have been subjected to illegitimate collection efforts or practices that can be considered harassment, you can sue the creditor in question with the help of an attorney. The collection practices in question may be considered a violation of either state or federal law.

Harassment, in general,  that involves constant phone calls, multiple phone calls on the same day, auto dialing calls and calling without leaving messages can be considered unfair practices. If the debtor calls your friends, family, employer or another third party regarding your finances, then it is a violation of the law.  Other common creditor harassment practices include the use of threats, such as a threat to call the police on you, charging even more in addition to the debt such as late fees, not validating the debt or continuing to contact you after you have clearly stated your intent to refute the debt. If you have been subjected to any of these, you can take your case to court.

Additionally, filing for personal bankruptcy can relieve you of harassing debt collection efforts literally overnight.  Speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your many options. Call us at 480-240-0040 for more help on these issues.