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h8spleadingpaper

Is There a Free Way to Find Out If I'm Being Sued?

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Hi, All.  Still kind of a newb here, I'm afraid.

 

About a half a year ago, I was sued by a JDB.  The only way I found out was to have a law firm scan the Court docket and contact me about becoming a client (the CA in question never tried to serve me, in hopes of getting a default judgment after claiming that "sewer service" was used).  I'd like to find out if any other CAs out there have filed any similar suits against me, but the local Court wants 5 bucks each time I search the dockets for my name.  Does anyone know if there is a way to perform such a search for free?  I mean, I should have a right to know if I'm being sued or not at any given time, right?  5 bucks isn't so much, but I may have to do this many times over the next few years until some things shake out.  If it's relevant, I live in California and was granted a Fee Waiver to file my Answer to the above Complaint, due to financial hardship.

 

Also, I've since learned that a CA or attorney has to inform you in writing prior to filing a Complaint.  I recently received a Demand for Payment letter from another CA (Alternative Recovery Management) regarding another alleged account, which contains the words,

 

"You are given 5 days from the date of this notice to make suitable arrangement for payment.  It is our intention to enforce the collection of your debt."  

 

This sounds like a veiled threat to sue to me, but does the wording given above satisfy their requirement to notify me prior to suit?  Should I assume that I have been?

 

Thanks as always for any insights!   :-)

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I think in California you can look it up online. To to your local court website and search out your name.

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If you were granted a fee waiver it should cover more than just the answer to the complaint. It should cover motions as well. If not you could file an additional fee waiver (there is a form for that as well).

 

The letter you received should state that you have 30 days to dispute the alleged debt, and ask for verification. Or, they should send you a letter stating that within 5 days (if they count that letter as their initial communication)

 

That's all in the FDCPA under validation of debts and initial communication.

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@

 

Also, I've since learned that a CA or attorney has to inform you in writing prior to filing a Complaint.

 

 

Unless that's a California specific law, they do not have to inform you prior to filing suit.

 

 

 I recently received a Demand for Payment letter from another CA (Alternative Recovery Management) regarding another alleged account, which contains the words,

 

"You are given 5 days from the date of this notice to make suitable arrangement for payment.  It is our intention to enforce the collection of your debt." 

 

 

 

Was that the first letter you received from that collector?   Did it contain the 30-day validation notice?

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"You are given 5 days from the date of this notice to make suitable arrangement for payment.  It is our intention to enforce the collection of your debt." 

 

I need to ask, was that letter the first contact you have had with this debt collector over this particular account?

 

If so, you have them on at least one FDCPA violation right there.  That is called "overshadowing".  It's a no-no and they know better.

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I need to ask, was that letter the first contact you have had with this debt collector over this particular account?

 

If so, you have them on at least one FDCPA violation right there.  That is called "overshadowing".  It's a no-no and they know better.

 

That's a borderline case that they'd likely be about to get out of. A direct threat to sue without following through would be a slam dunk.

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I think in California you can look it up online. To to your local court website and search out your name.

Hi, Shellieh.  Yes, I tried searching my name on the Court's website.  They insist on a $5.00 fee each time you search for your name in their records.  They claim it is necessary to fund such services.  Gotta love Ca.

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Hi, everyone.  Thank you all for your time!  I've received (3) notifications from Alternative Recovery Management, all spaced about a month apart, all on colored paper (pink & blue).  The (2) pink ones (1st and 3rd to be received chronologically) state,

 

"Since voluntary payment efforts have failed, we must assume you have no intention to pay.  You are given 5 days from the date of this notice to make suitable arrangement for payment.  It is our intention to enforce the collection of your debt."

 

The blue one (2nd to be received) is a Demand for Payment and states,

 

"YOU HAVE IGNORED OR REFUSED OUR DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE PAYMENT OF YOUR DEBT.

 

We may begin an Asset/Debt investigation on you if no payment or response is received.  Federal law requires that we inform you of this as an attempt to collect a debt; all information will be used for that purpose."

 

Since they keep claiming that I only have 5 days, my tendency is to think they're not very serious, though the threat of "Asset/Debt Investigation" is something new to me.  Does anyone know what this means?  I don't have any record of the usual 30-day notice, though the alleged account was being handled by Northland Group, Inc (another CA) prior to 3 months ago and I'm thinking maybe Alternative is a subsidiary or partner of Northland out here on the West Coast.

 

Thanks for any insights or opinions you may be able to share.  Have a great day!

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Hi, Shellieh.  Yes, I tried searching my name on the Court's website.  They insist on a $5.00 fee each time you search for your name in their records.  They claim it is necessary to fund such services.  Gotta love Ca.

That stinks. I'm in San Diego and can check that without charge, which I do on a weekly basis. The court system shouldn't charge for that, makes it burden for people.

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If you were granted a fee waiver it should cover more than just the answer to the complaint. It should cover motions as well. If not you could file an additional fee waiver (there is a form for that as well).

 

The letter you received should state that you have 30 days to dispute the alleged debt, and ask for verification. Or, they should send you a letter stating that within 5 days (if they count that letter as their initial communication)

 

That's all in the FDCPA under validation of debts and initial communication.

Hi, Anon.  Thanks for your input!  Any idea how I could parlay my Fee Waiver for Answer and Motions into a Fee Waiver for searching the Court dockets for my name in any / all suits that may have been filed against me?  Basically, I'm looking for an early warning system, since last year, a JDB chose to sue me without ever serving me anything, in hopes of getting a default judgment.  Thanks!

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That stinks. I'm in San Diego and can check that without charge, which I do on a weekly basis. The court system shouldn't charge for that, makes it burden for people.

Thanks for the moral support, Ryan.  Yeah, Los Angeles is terrible that way.  They charge for absolutely everything.  :-(

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I think the only way you could make use of the fee waiver would be to look at the court docket in person at the court. When the clerk wants the $5 you bring up the fee waiver. It is supposed to be the "peoples" court and it's funded by your tax dollar, but I guess your court sees it differently.

 

As far as them conducting their asset investigations goes; that's no big deal, let them go ahead and conduct it. And when / if they sue you; start discovery and let their investigation continue.

 

It's interesting that they would bring up Federal law, being that they are breaking the law and that they are going to use the state court if they pursue it. If you read the FDCPA laws you will see where they are not complying, and if they sue; you can use this as a cross complaint, which will give you much needed leverage.

 

I would put them on the "pay no mind list" and wait for a lawsuit. Learn the FDCPA laws in the meantime. 

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I think the only way you could make use of the fee waiver would be to look at the court docket in person at the court. When the clerk wants the $5 you bring up the fee waiver. It is supposed to be the "peoples" court and it's funded by your tax dollar, but I guess your court sees it differently.

 

As far as them conducting their asset investigations goes; that's no big deal, let them go ahead and conduct it. And when / if they sue you; start discovery and let their investigation continue.

 

It's interesting that they would bring up Federal law, being that they are breaking the law and that they are going to use the state court if they pursue it. If you read the FDCPA laws you will see where they are not complying, and if they sue; you can use this as a cross complaint, which will give you much needed leverage.

 

I would put them on the "pay no mind list" and wait for a lawsuit. Learn the FDCPA laws in the meantime. 

Thanks, Anon!  I'll definitely brush up on FDCPA.  Yes, Los Angeles courts are terrible to deal with.  I'll try your method of going down there and asking for a free search based on my Fee Waiver.  

 

While I have you, could you please tell me what asset investigation involves?  Also, as mentioned earlier, a JDB entered a Complaint against me on a separate account about 6 months ago, which I answered and served.  Is there any way to find out when the court date is for my case?  Would it be on the Case Summary?  I think these things usually go to mediation first, but I haven't heard anything - the Courts are way backed up in LA.  Sorry I'm so ignorant on all of this.  :-(

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@Cosmo

 

Not a problem.

 

Asset/debt investigation is probably little more than hot air and an attempt to intimidate you. Asset investigation might mean that they are going to try and find out if you are worth pursuing; if you own a home or property, have a good job or money, and if you are a good target with means to pay etc.

 

Debt investigation could be them trying to see what proof they have or can get. However this part of the investigation will probably never see the light of day. These are nothing more than intimidation tactics, don't fall for them.

 

Your case summary would tell you of a court date, if you have been assigned one. The court should also send you notice of any pending dates.

 

Learn the rules of evidence; hearsay, business records exception to it and rules of authentication. Read Homeless in California's thread, and refer to ASTMedics "how I beat midlands" for document examples. Also Seadragons 60 day checklist.

 

You are right about the LA courts, BUT, I (as well as others) have worked with several people who have won their case in those courts, and some were against an OC. It can be done.

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@Cosmo

 

Not a problem.

 

Asset/debt investigation is probably little more than hot air and an attempt to intimidate you. Asset investigation might mean that they are going to try and find out if you are worth pursuing; if you own a home or property, have a good job or money, and if you are a good target with means to pay etc.

 

Debt investigation could be them trying to see what proof they have or can get. However this part of the investigation will probably never see the light of day. These are nothing more than intimidation tactics, don't fall for them.

 

Your case summary would tell you of a court date, if you have been assigned one. The court should also send you notice of any pending dates.

 

Learn the rules of evidence; hearsay, business records exception to it and rules of authentication. Read Homeless in California's thread, and refer to ASTMedics "how I beat midlands" for document examples. Also Seadragons 60 day checklist.

 

You are right about the LA courts, BUT, I (as well as others) have worked with several people who have won their case in those courts, and some were against an OC. It can be done.

Thanks, Anon.  You rock!  Have a great New Year!  :-)

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@Cosmo

 

Not a problem.

 

Asset/debt investigation is probably little more than hot air and an attempt to intimidate you. Asset investigation might mean that they are going to try and find out if you are worth pursuing; if you own a home or property, have a good job or money, and if you are a good target with means to pay etc.

 

Debt investigation could be them trying to see what proof they have or can get. However this part of the investigation will probably never see the light of day. These are nothing more than intimidation tactics, don't fall for them.

 

Your case summary would tell you of a court date, if you have been assigned one. The court should also send you notice of any pending dates.

 

Learn the rules of evidence; hearsay, business records exception to it and rules of authentication. Read Homeless in California's thread, and refer to ASTMedics "how I beat midlands" for document examples. Also Seadragons 60 day checklist.

 

You are right about the LA courts, BUT, I (as well as others) have worked with several people who have won their case in those courts, and some were against an OC. It can be done.

Last question, I promise!  Can a CA really investigate your employment status and bank account information?  i thought they needed some kind of a court order to obtain this kind of personal info.  Thanks again!

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Agree with Anon. "Asset Investigation" sounds like scare tactic. Makes me wonder how legitimate these people are, as far a legitimate goes for the collection industry, that is. None of it matters without a judgment.

 

IMO, "investigating your employment status" probably amounts to looking you up on google to see if your name pops up on a company roster somewhere. You mentioned the letters you received from them, spaced a month apart, with the "5 day" ticking clock. You haven't paid them any mind, so to them it's time to dial up the tactics.

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@Cosmo

 

You can ask as many questions as it takes to beat this.

 

They can't do much to investigate your employment or bank records without court orders or subpoenas. If you live in a house they can check public records to see if you own it. If that's the case; then a lawsuit is likely. When I was sued by CACH they actually sent a car with 2 people in it to park outside my property and look for visible assets, I have heard of this happening to others as well. They also investigated my company website.

 

They will try to find out if you are worth suing. It's not so much whether or not they think they can win the case, but can they COLLECT from you that is important. Regardless of your financial situation you fight them, or at least I would if it were mine. And their investigation is something that is out of your control anyway (and there really won't be a whole lot to it).

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@Cosmo

 

You can ask as many questions as it takes to beat this.

 

They can't do much to investigate your employment or bank records without court orders or subpoenas. If you live in a house they can check public records to see if you own it. If that's the case; then a lawsuit is likely. When I was sued by CACH they actually sent a car with 2 people in it to park outside my property and look for visible assets, I have heard of this happening to others as well. They also investigated my company website.

 

They will try to find out if you are worth suing. It's not so much whether or not they think they can win the case, but can they COLLECT from you that is important. Regardless of your financial situation you fight them, or at least I would if it were mine. And their investigation is something that is out of your control anyway (and there really won't be a whole lot to it).

Thanks again, Anon.  I own no home and drive a 13 year old car, but I do have a job.  Just read the BBB entries for ARM and they have a lonnnnng history of harassment and failing to send the initial 30 day notices as required by FDCPA.  I think my next steps should be to see if they have entered anything on my credit report beyond the OC tradeline (I've been meaning to sign up for a credit monitoring service, just didn't really want to spend the money).  Then maybe a Limited Cease and Desist to keep them from calling my job.  Perhaps a verification of debt letter for good measure (again, the BBB website entries indicate that they either don't answer these or just send an outdated printout of payment history from the OC in most cases).  They sound like BS to me.  SOL runs out on this alleged account in 10 or 11 months, so the OC may just be desperate.   

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Sometimes a simple debt validation letter is enough to make these people go away - they realize you just might be an informed citizen. Flip the scare tactics on them, cite the FDCPA section which covers DV requests and you put them on notice that you'll be watching them for violations.

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When I was sued by CACH they actually sent a car with 2 people in it to park outside my property and look for visible assets, I have heard of this happening to others as well. They also investigated my company website.

 

 

Wow, that's nuts. Asset just blanket sues everyone and worries about collecting later.

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