(upbeat music) – Hey everyone, welcome back to the Consumer Warrior Podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you with your big debt problems. If you’re just dabbling in debt, this isn’t the podcast for you. Here we deal with the big debt problems like repossession, debt collection lawsuits, foreclosure, bankruptcy
and all those other horrible financial problems. We’re here to help you to help yourself. Welcome back to the show. I’m your host, John Skiba. And in today’s episode
we’re going to talk about something that’s a little bit specific to maybe not everybody’s that’s listening, but that can be very helpful if you’re dealing with debt
where the debt collector, the debt buyer, the original creditor has actually filed a lawsuit against you and you’re trying to figure out what to do as far as how to respond
to the lawsuit itself. Now before we jump into that, I do want to remind
everybody that this podcast is sponsored by the
Consumer Warrior Project and this is going to be very important to today’s specific episode because I’m going to be talking about
how to draft your own answer to a debt collection lawsuit and we actually have a tutorial there that’ll walk you through this, provide you with forms and make the whole process a lot easier. You can find all of that
over at legal.coach. That’s the actual website
address, legal.coach. Head on over there and learn more about the Consumer Warrior Project and some of the resources we have to help you get out of debt. Now today’s episode again
is going to be dealing with drafting that answer to
the debt collection lawsuit. This is a vital, vital step if you have been sued by a debt collector. Now what the debt
collector, what they’ll do is they’ll draft a complaint. They’ll get a summons, they
file it all with the court and then they have to go
out and serve you with it. So process servers come by your house they’ve knocked on the door, usually at some weird
hour the day or night and they drop off the
complaint in the summons. Now in the summons if you read over it, it’s going to give you a
very specific timeframe for you to file a written
response to the complaint. Essentially the court wants
to know do you admit or deny what it is that this debt collector or this debt buyer or whoever it is do you admit or deny what
it is that they’re saying? Because if you deny it, then we have a lawsuit on our hands here. We have a dispute that
the court needs to settle. Now I want to go over
with you a few things that I see people do incorrectly that can cause some real
damage to your case. And the reason why I
decided to do this episode is most people that get
sued by debt collectors, they represent themselves. Over 95% of these cases go to a default, meaning people don’t respond to them. And those that do respond to them, less than 1% actually have attorneys. So there are a lot of people out there who are drafting their own responses and because it’s such a
vital piece of the lawsuit, I wanted to give you again a few tips on things you can do to make sure that you do it correctly. Now one of the first things I noticed is a lot of people will get sued, they’ll draft up the answer, they either come into my
office to talk to me about it and want me to review what they’ve done. And one of the biggest mistakes
that I see that people do is they use the answer as their time to kind of tell their side of the story. You know there’s things in there saying, “Hey, I got this credit card “and then we fell in hard times. “We had illness,” or “job loss” or “the economy fell apart.” Whatever it is, they’re going into detail as far as why they can’t pay. And sometimes they’ll go
so far as to ask the court to help set up a payment plan or some type of settlement. Now it’s important to note that the court is not there to help you come up with some kind of settlement arrangement or payment plan or anything like that. They don’t care. The judge’s job is to
determine legal liability. Was there an agreement, did you breach it? Are you liable? If so, how much? That’s what the judge’s job is there for. They’re not there to help the
plaintiff collect on this. They’re not there to determine whether you can actually afford to pay it. All of those things are
going to be left to you and to the opposing counsel. Also you don’t need to put in
more detail than is necessary. Like I was saying, what the court wants to know is do you admit or deny the allegations that are in the complaint? They don’t need to know about all the other background story. That’s relevant to you, it’s relevant to settlement, it’s relevant maybe later on in the case, maybe a trial. It’s not relevant to the
complaint and filing the answer. If you look at the complaint, it should be a bunch
of numbered paragraphs with specific allegations in each of those numbered paragraphs. All you need to do is go through and say whether you admit or deny what
it is that they’re saying. It can be really that simple. I mean you can say you know
in response to paragraph one, I admit what they say
or I deny what they say. You know whatever it is that’s accurate, that’s what you want to respond to. So tip number one, don’t use the answer as your opportunity to tell some big story. It’ll hurt you in the end and it’s just not necessary. Number two is that you need to answer to the best of your capabilities, but understand particularly
if you’re being sued by a junk debt buyer. And the overwhelming majority of debt collection lawsuits these days are brought by debt buyers. They’re not brought by
the original creditor. So if I took out a card, a credit card with Chase or with Citi or Wells Fargo or somebody like that and it goes delinquent, often they’ll just package that up and they sell these to debt buyers, debt buyers with names like
Portfolio Recoveries Services, Midland Funding, Calvary SPV and you know dozens and dozens of others. There are small debt buying
entities in every state. Those are just some of
the big national ones. So what you need to do is just respond to specifically what it is
that they are asking you. And sometimes people
will just admit things that haven’t actually been proven by the debt buyer. So let’s say you have a debt buyer case, let’s say it’s Midland
Funding has sued you and they’re alleging that
they’re the owner of the account or the account was transferred
to them or assigned to them, but they’re not providing any documents to really support that,
they’re just alleging that. And I’ve seen people on
a pretty regular basis who will admit that Midland Funding is the owner of the account. You know, I always put it back on my potential clients that are out here. How do you know that? Other than them saying
that, how do you know that? Have they provided you
with any specific evidence that demonstrates that they’re the actual owner of the account? Because something you’re
going to be surprised if you litigate cases against debt buyers is how little evidence they actually have that they’re the true
owners of the account. So unless they proven it, don’t admit it. You know if they’re
saying that you owe them a specific dollar amount, you can ask them how how
did you calculate that? Don’t just admit to something blindly that you don’t know as far as how they actually they
came up with those facts. You got to be really careful when it comes to admitting or denying it because you can honestly deny a lot of the things that debt buyers say just because they simply
haven’t proven it. If a debt buyer tells me that they’re the owner of the account, unless they’ve shown me and
proven to me that they are, I’m going to deny that
because I simply don’t know. If it’s something where they’re saying that there’s $5700.10 owed, unless I know for sure
how they calculated that, if I know what interest rate they used, I’m not going to respond to that. I’m going to say that I’m going to deny it because I don’t know
how they calculated that so I’ll deny it. You should always be truthful in what you’re responding to it the court. You know, if they’re saying,
“Hey, you opened up an account “with Citibank and the last four digits “were two, three, four,” yeah. You know what you should
go ahead admit that if that’s accurate. But if there’s something in
there that’s not accurate, that has not been proven, then you need to go ahead and deny that. Now so that’s the second tip. Last tip, number three is be careful if they’re asking you for or if they’ve put different allegations in the same numbered paragraph. So let’s say they have five paragraphs and paragraph number two says that they, that Midland Funding is
the owner of the account and the amount owed is $4000 even. And I’m just making things up. You know, you need to look at that. That’s actually two different allegations. So in response to it, you don’t want to just say
that you completely deny paragraph number four unless you do, but let’s say that you agreed to the $4000 as what was owed on the card
at the time it was charged off, but you deny that Midland
Funding is the actual owner. It’s permissible to say in your answer in response to paragraph number two, I deny that Midland Funding
is the owner of the account, but I admit that the
amount owed is $4,000. And that’s just a for example. You may not agree with either of those. You may agree with both of them, but you need to be careful
when they’re putting multiple allegations in
one specific paragraph because if you just blanket,
“Hey, I admit this,” there may be things within that paragraph that you don’t actually agree with that can cause you some
problems down the road. That’s just the three tips I give when drafting your own answer
to a debt collection lawsuit. It’s just to really to be
careful what you’re responding to because it’s an important document. I’ve had clients before that
have filed their own answers and they basically just
admitted to everything, and if you admit to everything, this lawsuit, it’s going
to be over real quick. And the reason is because the plaintiff will just
go back to the judge and say, “Judge, there’s
really no legal dispute here. “The defendant has agreed to everything “that we’re saying.” And then they’ll file something called a motion for judgment on the pleadings and this case will be done
before it even begins. So you need to be careful. I mean one, you need to be
accurate and honest about it. But two, you need to be careful as far as to what you’re admitting because there’s probably a lot in there, particularly with cases
with junk debt buyers, where you don’t know if what
they’re alleging is true because they haven’t proven it, they’re just alleged it. So those are the three tips again for how to draft an answer
to a debt collection lawsuit. If you want to learn more
about how to do this, again I’ve put together
a very in-depth tutorial. It’s an online video tutorial
with forms and templates that’ll show you how to do this. You can head over to my
website at www.legal.coach. That’s the entire website, legal.coach. You can go over there and
you can see that course, as well as a bunch of other courses and templates and things you can download that’ll help you in
your fight against debt. So that’s going to do it for
this episode of the podcast. One thing that since this podcast is new, I wanted to throw out there is that I do have a video
version of all of this. If you want to see my
face as well as you know the video version of this, or if you prefer to
listen to it on YouTube, I have a YouTube channel. If you go to YouTube and search Consumer Warrior Project, you’ll see a list of all
the videos that I have and we have about 100 videos in general that we’ve been doing even
before this podcast was launched. Or if you just listen to audio, if you’re seeing this over on YouTube, if you go to iTunes,
if you go to Stitcher, you can subscribe to the
audio version of this. Get the same exact content. It’s just one has a video and one doesn’t. So that’s going to do it for
this episode of the podcast. I appreciate you’re listening in. We will catch you next time. (upbeat music)