That old hospital bill has come back. This time it is haunting you in a court of law. Not only is it perfectly legal for a creditor to sue you for debts owed, but courts are siding in their favor.
That means more consumers are being hit with garnished wages and racked up interest and late fees for not paying bad debts. What are your rights when it comes to being sued by a creditor?
You have the right to stop this from happening. Collectors act just like bullies, picking on weak accounts or consumers that don’t know their consumer rights. Once accused or contacted, ask for validation you owe the debt – by law the creditor must comply and within 30 days. If you feel a creditor is harassing you or threatening legal action, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as both these activities are illegal.
You have the right to show up in court. If you have been served to show up in court, you have 30 days to reply. There are certain terms you can use or defenses you can raise in response. If you do not know why you are being sued, you can ask for a breakdown of the debt from the plaintiff (or the creditor doing the suing). In court, you have a chance to present your case.
You have the right to not settle. Creditors might try to save (or fool) you into a costly payment agreement. Read these contracts carefully. If you do go to court and lose, you could experience a money judgment. This comes in the form of garnished wages, a lien on the home and a seizure of personal property. You best bet to avoid being sued by a creditor is to not avoid the creditor from the start.