The Complete Guide to Credit and Debt Legal Issues

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In this ever-increasing litigious society, one day you may find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Or, you may want to sue a collection agency for harassment. Most of us don’t have a “lawyer on staff” or know the first thing about what to do if you are sued or how to go about suing someone else. Have no fear — we have all the basic information you will need to navigate your way through litigation. We cannot stress enough, however, that we are not lawyers, and any and all information on our site is just that — information, not legal advice. If you have any questions regarding litigation, it is best to seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state.

General Information About Lawsuits

How Lawsuits Work — Whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant, you need to know the basics of navigating your way through the lawsuit process. See what to expect, step-by-step, from the summons and complaint to the discovery process, to the trial (if it goes that far).

How to Build Your Legal Tool Kit — You’re going to have a lot of recordkeeping to do and paperwork to organize when dealing with a lawsuit. Refer to this checklist of supplies that will make this job easier, as well as a couple of sources for free legal information.

What is Pretrial Discovery? — In the early stages of a lawsuit, the disclosure of evidence is known as pretrial discovery. See the different types of discovery tools that are used in litigation proceedings.

What is the Pretrial Conference? — Before a case goes to trial, what’s held first is the pretrial conference. This is what determines whether the case is settled or goes to trial, so get the facts about how best to prepare yourself for it.

What to Say to a Judge in Court — How should you address the judge? How should you answer distressing questions? What should you object to? Get the facts, as what you say to a judge in court can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Damages Awarded in Lawsuits — When you win a lawsuit, you are entitled to an award to compensate you for your loss. Learn about the different types of damages that may be awarded (e.g., compensatory, general, nominal, punitive, special, statutory, treble).

Handling a Lawsuit Filed Against You by a Debt Collector

Account Stated vs Written Contract Defenses — When a credit card company files a lawsuit against you, there are two ways they can state how you entered into your contractual agreement. Learn how to defend yourself depending on whether the company claims account stated or entered into a contract.

Process Service Requirements by State — If a lawsuit is filed against you, a copy of it must be properly served to you. If it’s not, the lawsuit could be thrown out, so it’s important to know your rights. Check out this state-by-state listing of proper service requirements.

How to Answer a Summons and Complaint — You never want to ignore a Summons and Complaint, as that will result in you losing by default. But before you respond, make sure you know how to do it right.

Affirmative Defenses in Your Answer — After answering individual complaints, be sure to include affirmative defenses in your response to a Summons and Complaint. Take a look at examples of affirmative defenses.

How to File a Motion to Strike — An affidavit of debt is a sworn statement signed by an employee of the company suing you, attesting to the legitimacy of the information in the complaint. Find out how to file a motion to strike an affidavit of debt.

Bill of Particulars — Allowed only in a handful of states, a bill of particulars lists all of the reasons a lawsuit has been filed against you. If you live in California, New York, Illinois, or Virginia, find out whether it’s worth requesting one.

How to Get a Wage Garnishment Judgment Exemption — If a creditor is trying to garnish your wages, you have good reason to be alarmed, but don’t panic. It is possible to get an exemption. Here’s how.

Filing Your Own Lawsuit

How Collection Agencies Violate the Law — Take a look at FTC lawsuits against collection agencies dating from 2008 through 2012, a good way to inform your own potential legal action against them.

How to Sue Your Creditors –

Suing a Creditor for Damaging Your Credit Rating — Did a creditor or debt collector knowingly report inaccurate information to the credit bureaus? You may have a case against them.

Suing for Defamation of Character — Has your reputation been harmed by an inaccurate credit rating? You may be able to sue for it. Get tips on proving defamation of character and see details of the court case that sets a good precedent for it.

Tips When Suing a Credit Reporting Agency — Provided a mandatory arbitration clause doesn’t prevent it, you can sue a credit reporting agency if they violate your rights.

Credit Card Arbitration — Whether you realize it or not, your contract with your credit card company probably includes a mandatory arbitration clause. If so, all disputes must be handled through a third-party arbitrator, meaning you do not have the right to sue.

Mandatory Arbitration or Court Trial — Learn the differences between these two types of litigation hearings, including cost, length, who presides, right to appeal, enforcement of the award, and more.

How to File a Lawsuit in Small Claims Court — Though procedures vary from county to county and state to state, there are some general guidelines it’s important to understand about small claims court. Get the facts about serving the notice, preparing your case, what to expect at the trial, and more.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — Fair Credit Reporting Act — Statute of Limitations

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) — Do you know when and where a debt collector is allowed to contact you? What they’re allowed to say and what’s not okay? Find out with this link to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in its entirety (or check out this summary).

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) — Do you know who is allowed to see your credit reports? How they ensure accuracy? How to dispute errors? Find out with this link to the Fair Credit Reporting Act in its entirety (or check out this quick guide).

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act — This amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act is aimed at preventing identity theft, improving the resolution of consumer disputes, improving the accuracy of consumer reports, and more.

Notice of Negative Information — After a creditor reports negative information to a credit bureau, they are required to let you know about it. That’s thanks to the Notice of Negative Information Provision. Get the facts.

Statute of Limitations on Debt — Once the statute of limitations runs out, you are no longer legally required to pay a debt. So, before you pay a dime on old debt, check out this state-by-state listing for when your legal responsibility runs out.

How to Vacate a Judgment — It may be a long shot, but it is possible that a judgment against you could be dismissed (i.e., vacated). Get the facts about how it works, including success stories.

Consumer Credit Attorney — State Specific Requirements — Case Law References


Consumer Credit Attorneys Case Law
Small Claims Courts Listed by State State Auto Repo Laws
Boatley v. Diem Corporation Richardson v. Fleet
Cushman v. TransUnion Stevenson v. TRW
State Licensing Requirements for Collection Agencies Information on Taxes
Unclean Hands Doctrine
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