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Do I need legal representation to respond to a "formal complaint filed against (me) and (my) social security number?

Seattle, WA |

I am behind in student loan and credit card payments and and just now able to consider getting back on track. I have been getting daily calls from someone saying that there has been a formal complant filed against me and my social security number, and that I or my legal counsel needs to contact him back immediately or I will lose the ability to "participate in the process" or something like that. I am not worried as much about my credit score as I am about a lawsuit. Should I talk to this person when he calls next? Should I just try to arrange payments with my debtors and ignore him? Thank you so much for your time.

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Attorney answers 3


Your social security number isn't something that would have anything filed against it. Sounds like a creditor on a fishing expedition from you. Find out more about this collector, where he is located, name of the company, who they are collecting for, where complain is filed, etc.

In my state, collectors must be licensed & are regulated by a state agency. No license, they shouldn't be collecting in my state. See if you have this kind of agency in your state. If licensed, shouldn't be lying about a complaint that doesn't exist.

Hope this perspective helps & good luck!


This is a deceptive collection practice. You are right to keep an eye out for a lawsuit. If you get sued use the Answer on my website.

The first thing you need to do if and when you get sued is file an Answer. The summons will tell you that you must “appear” by way of an Answer in 10, 20 or 30 days, “depending on the method of service.”


You need a lawyer, but if you cannot afford one right away, rather then do nothing and have a judgment entered against you, is to “appear” by filing something!

Many people think this means they have to go to Court and this is incorrect. 90% of all lawsuits end in Default Judgments because the defendant (person getting sued) did not file an Answer.

I recommend you go to the free form I have on my website. Print it out and fill it out as instructed. You must answer the numbered paragraphs on the Complaint by writing them into the appropriate lines in the Answer. The Answer will allow you to preserve your rights and will prohibit a default judgment (i.e. you did not show up) from being entered against you.

Mimic the paperwork you got when you got sued. Answer all the paragraphs of the Complaint by writing the numbers in lines 1, 2 or 3.

Almost 100% of attorneys will deny what is owed because they did not do the calculations and do not know what the basis for the number is…

When you file the Answer that is your “not guilty”. You have the right to make the person suing you (Plaintiff) prove their case, but you must also answer the complaint truthfully.

Make sure you fill in the name and address of the attorney suing you before you bring this paperwork to the Court. Mail it to the attorney suing you right away!

Check out the guide I have drafted on the Avvo profile. This will provide more detailed instructions. If it is helpful remember to indicate that and get the guide read!

Good Luck!

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Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.


Formal complaints are attached to a summons and served personally on you. If someone is trying to make you think that you have been served on the basis of a phone call, that is a deceptive practice. If you decide to return this call and speak with this person, get their name and mailing address. They will not want to give it to you. But they must, Once you have that, write and confirm the content of the messages they have been leaving with you. Be sure to send a copy of your letter to the Washington State AG's office for consumer protection. It is highly likely this is an out of state unlicensed collector on a phishing expedition. Each wrongful action exposes a collector to up to $1K per violation.

My favorite sites for debt collection information are: and These are also Federal issues, so they are to that extent the same from state to state.

Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell