Sued for debt and want to represent yourself? When you should, when you shouldn't

What happens when you have been sued for a debt, but it doesn’t make economic sense to hire a lawyer? If you have only one debt, or the alleged debt is less than, say, $1,000, it may not be cost effective for you to hire a lawyer. What then? Should you give up and pay the debt, even if you've been sued wrongfully? Absolutely not!

There are many resources available to New York consumers who have been sued wrongfully but feel they cannot, or do not want to, hire a lawyer. One terrific resource is the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (“NEDAP”), and its website contains a wealth of information about defending against creditor lawsuits. You can also visit the website of the New York State Unified Court System. Go to the part of the website called Answering a Debt Collection Case. Either of these sites are great, and will give you all the information and forms you need to defend yourself.

When you should contact a lawyer

If you've been sued, especially by a debt collector, it makes good sense to contact an experienced debt defense and credit damage law firm like The Langel Firm. The Langel Firm will draft aggressive papers for you, asserting strong and sophisticated defenses and counterclaims on your behalf, and will attend all court appearances for you, saving you time and stress.

A good debt defense lawyer knows the courts and the opposition, both the debt collectors and their lawyers, and is familiar with all their tricks and strategies. An experienced debt defense lawyer like Jesse Langel has developed relationships with the lawyers on the other side, and can litigate or negotiate the best outcome for you. Sometimes a good debt defense lawyer will be able to erase the debt completely and permanently. Some debt defense lawyers, including Jesse, will accept payment plans – ask!

In an emergency, such as when your wages have been garnished, or your bank account has been frozen, you may want a lawyer on your side who can remove the garnishment and unfreeze your bank account quickly, and deal with the underlying case as well.

If you discover one default judgment against you, it's very common to find that other debt collectors have obtained default judgments against you as well. If you have multiple debt collection cases against you, it's always worthwhile to get a good debt defense attorney to locate and handle all of them for you. The Langel Firm will work out a reasonable fee arrangement with you.

If you have been abused, harassed or threatened in connection with the collection of a debt (even if you owe the money). If, within the last year, you have received repeated harassing phone calls or letters, calls to employers, family or friends regarding a debt/claimed debt, or if a collector is trying to collect against you for a debt that isn’t yours. An experienced debt defense lawyer can help you bring a lawsuit against the creditor, and may be able to help you recover money for the abuse you suffered.

- Sheril Stanford

Categories: Debt Defense
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