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What can Texas residents do if creditors sue over consumer debt?


Overwhelming consumer debt is a harsh reality that affects many people in Smith County and the rest of Texas. While some of those people are in debt due to a difficult economic environment, others are in debt because of unplanned or surplus spending. Irrespective of how the debt was accumulated, the fact remains that people have to deal with creditors and debt collection agencies who are entitled to file a lawsuit against the debtor according to the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

It is important for every debtor to remember that responding to the lawsuit by the deadline is critical. The debtor may choose to personally respond or the person may hire an attorney for representation. After responding to the lawsuit, it is the creditor's responsibility to present evidence in court that proves that the alleged debtor actually owes the debt. If a debtor believes that the creditor does not have a valid claim, it is important to defend that in court before the judge makes the final decision.

Ignoring a lawsuit is not appropriate because, in the debtor's absence, the court, in all likelihood, will decide in favor of the creditor. The court may also order the debtor to pay the fees from collection efforts, legal expenses and attorney fees. The debtor's absence may also mean that the creditor is entitled to recover the debt by means of wage garnishment, a lien against property and even by freezing all of the debtor's bank accounts.

Absence from a court hearing related to debt collection may also mean that a debtor will lose the right to dispute the creditor's claim. This is because a judgment is a court order and changes to that judgment can only be made by the court. In other words, once the court issues a judgment, it will be difficult for the debtor to convince the court to reopen the case. Therefore, it is always a safer and wiser option to contest the lawsuit and, if necessary, seek the help of an experienced attorney.

Source: ConsumerFinance.gov, "What should I do if a creditor or debt collector sues me?" Accessed on April 20, 2015

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