Friday, April 18, 2008

Collections: The Debtor's Options

You get sued for money owed. What do you do next?

Answering that question depends on a few things:

  1. Is the suit filed in small claims or not?
  2. Can you fight the suit?
  3. Are you working?
  4. If you are working, do you have a garnishable wage?
  5. Have you filed bankruptcy?
  6. Will the creditor accept payments?
  7. Will you be able to make your payments?
Regardless of whether the case is small claims or not, you can fight the suit. The difference lies in how you fight. If the suit was not filed in small claims, you need to read my Civil Suits - What Happens After Getting A Summons.

If you do not fight the case or lose in court, the question becomes how do you pay the judgment? Read my Collections Law: Judgment Proof - What is it? and decide if the plaintiff can use the court to get payment out of you.

If the plaintiff can garnish your wages or attach property, you need to decide on whether to make payment arrangements or file bankruptcy. If you do not have an attorney at this point, you need to get one.

When I do collections, I am leery of payment arrangements and so is almost any other collection attorney. Why? You got into this spot because you did not pay your bill. What reason is there for thinking you can make these payments now?