10 Ways to Challenge a Debt Buyer Lawsuit

How to Beat a Debt Buyer Lawsuit in Georgia
January 9, 2020
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How to Beat a Debt Buyer Lawsuit in Georgia

If you have been sued on a consumer debt, you should evaluate all of your options. There are often valid legal defenses to credit card lawsuits and other consumer debts that may help you negotiate a favorable settlement or even get the lawsuit dismissed.

No matter what you decide to do, you should never ignore the lawsuit. You should always file an answer to the lawsuit so that the plaintiff does not automatically win and receive a default judgment against you.

The following are 10 potential ways that you or your attorney can challenge a debt collection lawsuit

  1. Standing. You should evaluate whether you have been sued by the original creditor or a by a third-party debt collector (or “Debt Buyer”). Debt Buyers are companies that purchase old debts for pennies on the dollar and then attempt to collect from consumers in order to make a large profit. Debt Buyers usually have a difficult time proving in court that they legally own your debt and have the legal “standing” to bring a lawsuit against you.
  2. Assignment. This goes hand-in-hand with standing. You need to make the plaintiff prove that your account was validly assigned to them. They need to show some evidence of an assignment (often called a “Bill of Sale”), and that your account was included in the sale (i.e., they must show the list of accounts sold and show that yours was one of those accounts). If there are multiple debt buyers in the chain of assignment then it gets more difficult for them to prove this.
  3. Elements of the Case. Each state has its own requirements for what a plaintiff must show in order to win a debt collection case. In Georgia, a plaintiff must not only prove the amount of the debt, but must also show that: 1) you owe the debt and 2) they own the debt. If the plaintiff cannot prove these things, they should not be able to win a judgment against you. Again, Debt Buyers often have difficulty proving these elements in court.
  4. Evidence. The plaintiff must comply with the applicable rules of evidence. In Georgia, a plaintiff that wants to use business records (like account statements) to prove the elements of its case, must attach a written declaration of the records’ custodian or other qualified person that complies with O.C.G.A. § 24-9-902(11). An experienced attorney may be able to successfully challenge the admissibility of the plaintiff’s evidence.
  5. Service of the Lawsuit. The plaintiff must serve you with the summons and complaint in accordance with the applicable laws of your state. If you were not served properly, you may be able to have the case dismissed.
  6. Statute of Limitations. Every state has different a different deadline for filing debt collection lawsuits, called a statute of limitations. If the plaintiff misses the statute of limitations deadline, then it cannot file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed after the statute of limitations has passed, you may have a counterclaim for a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  7. Consumer Protection Laws. You should research the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer protection statutes to determine whether the plaintiff violated any laws while attempting to collect on the debt.
  8. Payment. The plaintiff can only sue you for the correct amount of the debt. If you paid the plaintiff or its “predecessor in interest” all or part of the amount claimed in the lawsuit, you should assert payment as a defense.
  9. Discharge in Bankruptcy. If you received a discharge in bankruptcy, and the debt that you are being sued for was included in your bankruptcy, the plaintiff cannot collect in a lawsuit, and may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by filing a lawsuit against you.
  10. Not Your Debt. If you never incurred the debt, then you have a complete defense. Plaintiffs may sue the wrong person when two people have very similar names or their other identifying information is a close match. Additionally, if a debt that is not yours turns up on your credit report, you may have a potential Fair Credit Reporting Act claim.

Give us a call at (404) 594-5130 if you have any questions about defending against a credit card lawsuit or other debt collection case.