Though the summons says the plaintiff is CAPITAL ONE, I wonder if N&K has some arrangement where they are the de facto owners of my debt now (having "bought" it at a discount), so they would actually negotiate on their own behalf. Could I even get a settlement agreement directly from CAPITAL ONE (and pay THEM), or am I stuck having to settle with N&K and sending payment to them? I've read bad things about them on ripoffreport, yelp, and other places, so I am wary. Haven't contacted either yet. I'd like to get a lawyer. I need to respond to their service of summons in a week, but ideally, I would like to settle beforehand and have them dismiss with prejudice before I even have to file an answer.
Real Estate Attorney
Nelson & Kennard is the law firm that Capital One hired to sue you for the debt. They represent Capital One. If they owned the debt, which is doubtful, that would be contained in the complaint. Don't delay -- file an Answer with the Court immediately. Otherwise, there will be a Default Judgment entered against you. Any negotiation must be done with the law firm, not with Capital One. Make sure any agreement is in writing. Or have any attorney negotiate on your behalf and review any settlement documents before you sign them and send money to the law firm.
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Once you have been sued, its too late to try and negotiate a settlement with the original creditor. You have to negotiate with the creditor's attorney.
Most debt collection defense attorneys would recommend that you, at minimum, file an answer to the complaint in the form of a general denial, asserting the necessary affirmative defenses. If you can hire an attorney to represent you, the attorney will also serve a set of discovery (questions and demands for documents). By taking these steps, you are in a much better position to settle for a reduced amount. If the plaintiff's evidence is very weak or non-existent, they will sometimes dismiss the case if they cannot convince the defendant to settle.
Help is available from local debt collection defense attorneys, and you will definitely benefit from that help if you seek it out.
This answer is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or formed by the posting of this answer. Law Office of Lisa J. Espada * San Francisco, CA * (415) 504-6195
Debt Collection Attorney
They are tough to deal with. I deal with them everyday. You need to respond to the complaint, due discovery and then at a later date they often open up and settle.
I deal with Nelson and Kennard all of the time and would be happy to assist you.