Been Served a Citation? Time is Critical!
Having been served a citation due to delinquent debt is not what anyone would ask for. A pending lawsuit is scarey, and worry can be your constant, unwanted companion. The good news is, you have reached James Foley PLLC, and as an experienced debt-defense attorney, I continue to help those in Fort Worth who are in your exact position. With strong legal representation, I will guide you through the legal complexities and fight for your rights. I would look for any possible misconduct or violations performed by your collector; and if any were found, it could benefit your case. On your behalf, I would craft the best, possible defense and guide you through the court proceedings, assuming your case would progress that far.
If you have asked yourself, “What in the world do I do, now?”, I would strongly encourage you to call me, immediately, at 817-738-1633. Your opportunity to respond to a citation falls within a small window of time. In Texas, you may have no more than 14 days, from the date of being served, to avoid a default judgment. A default judgment can turn your world upside down since it would allow the collector to receive everything being asked for in the lawsuit, and you would relinquish your right to defend your case. Depending on your assets and the amount of your debt, you could be forced to surrender business and/or personal property – vehicles, tools, equipment, bank accounts, or more – to satisfy the unpaid debt. Don't don't fight this battle alone!
Unpaid Credit-Card Debt – It can Become a Nightmare
Creditors or collection agencies will come at you with a vengeance to retrieve any outstanding money they feel is theirs. They may employ unethical or illegal maneuvers to trick you into paying money you might not be liable for.
Consequences of unpaid credit card debt include:
*** severe decline of your credit rating
*** inflated fees and penalties and/or inflated interest rates on balances due
*** continual calls from creditors or collection agencies
*** the serving of a citation
*** a lawsuit filed against you
*** frozen bank/savings accounts and seizure of business/personal properties – assuming a judgment were granted against you
In some cases, bankruptcy can prove to be the best option. Through Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you could keep your property while paying all or part of the debt. With Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you lose little or no property as well as being able to discharge your credit-card liability. As a debt-defense attorney and a bankruptcy attorney, I could help you determine which financial road would be the most beneficial for your particular case.
Being Served Legal Documents
When a creditor, a collection agency, or a lawyer representing either one chooses to pursue a lawsuit for unpaid credit-card debt, the filing of a petition, with the court, begins the process. The petition states the debtor's name, the reason for the pending lawsuit, and the total amount owed which could include the plaintiff's attorney fees, court costs and additional interest. The date, by which, the debtor must file a formal response would, also, be indicated.
The debtor would be served the petition as well as a citation which would declare that the debtor is being, officially, sued. The serving of these documents is, most often, done in person at the debtor's home or place of employment by a uniformed police officer/sheriff or a plain-clothed professional process server. If the debtor is unavailable to accept the papers, the server can present the documents to another adult, in the debtor's place; and the debtor would receive mailed copies.
In the citation, you will find words similar to: You are, hereby, required to appear and defend the complaint filed against you. The words, “to appear” mean you must file a legal paper with the court called a 'motion' or 'answer'. It must be drawn up in proper, legal format; and I would be able to do this, on your behalf, and present it to the court clerk or administrator.
Please note: Even if the server of the documents is not an officer of the law but is a process server who arrives in an unmarked vehicle and is dressed as a civilian, he or she still has every legal authority to present court documents and should be taken seriously.
Additionally, if a particular debt-buyer were to sue you – even if the debt-buyer's name were unfamiliar to you – that debt buyer would be challenging you in court with a lawsuit. Take any debt-buyer seriously and leave it up to me to determine if the debt-buyer is guilty of any collections violations which, if discovered, could benefit your case.
You Have Rights!
US laws help protect debtors facing a debt-collection lawsuit:
1. Statute of Limitations
With the statue of limitations, your debt could be legally deemed non-collectible if enough time has run its course. However, the time period for the statute of limitations starts on the last date of activity on the account – this is not, necessarily, the same as the date of the first non-payment. One must be very careful, here, since one or more actions by debtors can restart the statute of limitations. Please call me so I can determine if your debt qualifies for Texas' statute-of-limitations guidelines.
A debtor must prove, in court, that the delinquent account qualifies for the statute-of-limitations guidelines set forth by the state. If sufficient proof is unavailable, the plaintiff would win and a judgment would be issued against the defendant.
2. Inability to Prove Ownership of the Account
Often, creditors assign delinquent debt to debt-buyers; but debt-buyers' information may not, always, be legally acceptable. For example, if a debt-buyer cannot prove that the amount you owe is correct or if the debt-buyer cannot prove you, even, own the debt, the debt-buyer faces a dead-end street; and you are at a distinct advantage.
3. Inability to Authenticate Documents
Numerous debt collectors exist – by the thousands. Midland Funding and Portfolio Recovery are two debt-buying entities that are familiar to many who have faced debt-collection issues. When a debt collector cannot authenticate the documents of the original creditor, the defendant is at a distinct advantage and could be on the winning end.
Possible Outcomes of Debt-Collection Lawsuits
1. A Non-Suit of the Case
A non-suit of the case occurs when the plaintiff volunteers to waive its case against the defendant. This can happen when certain errors, in the plaintiff's case, become evident. A non-suit of a case is often the result of a plaintiff being challenged by a strong debt-defense attorney who was able to uncover certain errors or gaps.
A non-suit is not a ruling on the merits of the case, but it means the current lawsuit is over. However, a non-suit of the case does leave the window open for plaintiffs to refile the lawsuit against the defendant at a future time, assuming the debt, at that time, does not meet the statute-of-limitations.
2. A Ruling in Your Favor
A ruling in favor of the defendant is, most definitely, wonderful news! The creditor or collector would be forced to cease further litigation. At this point, you would want the unauthorized debt removed from your credit reports; and I would be happy to help you with this.
3. A Ruling in Favor of the Credit Card Company
A ruling in favor of the credit card company translates into a judgment being issued against the defendant. The credit card company would receive everything asked for in the lawsuit; and the defendant would not only pay the debt amount, but he or she could be be forced to pay all court-related costs and attorney's fees the plaintiff incurred. Property liens, bank-account levies, property seizures and more would be up for grabs to satisfy the delinquent debt.
4. An Agreed Settlement
Through an agreed settlement, the stress of going to trial can be avoided. The plaintiff and the defendant would reach a mutual agreement in the form of a reduced lump-sum payment or modified payment schedule. When you settle a debt, however, it can negatively impact your credit report for seven years.
Allow Me to Take on Your Legal Burden!
Dealing with a credit-card debt lawsuit is emotionally draining and can be financially devastating. As an experienced debt-collection attorney, I will be your advocate from beginning to end. Creditors have potent lawyers on their side to fight for their rights – so should you!
Call the office of James Foley PLLC, today, for a complimentary case-evaluation in any of these areas:
*** Debt-buyer suits
*** Original-creditor suits
*** Vehicle repossession
*** Loan-deficiency suits
James Foley PLLC
~Debt-Collection Defense & Bankruptcy Attorney~