I'm being sued by a junk debt buyer. I only discovered this because a local attorney trying to sell his services sent me a letter in the mail that a suit had been filed against me. I checked the online docket and sure enough, he was right. I've been sued by these guys once before. It was a year ago, except again, I was never served, never knew I had to show up to court & got a default judgement. I've lived at the same address for 2 decades, there is always someone home & no one got anything just like before; no mail, no Sheriff. Nothing. They sewer served me then & needless to say, I don't expect to be served this time but I do intend to show up. I know it's for credit card debt & I know how much but my question is, how do I file an answer when I've never been served and never will be?Case information summary for this $1300.00 debt says: CONTRACT COMPLAINT FILED SUMMONS ISSUED AND RETURNABLE CASE ELECTRONICALLY FILED CASE SET ON TRIAL CALL Date: 12/10/2014 ELECTRONIC NOTICE SENT All this happened on 11/6/14. I received the solicitation from the local attorney on 11/12/14 & have still gotten nothing from the lawyers office or Calvary with less than a month left for me to file. I was taken to court in '10 & as Pro Se filled out my answer to each question w/ "The defendant lacks information sufficient to admit or deny the allegation, and on that basis denies the allegation." I got the case dismissed without prejudice as they couldn't prove they owned the debt. If I was electronically served a copy would have been sent to my personal email as well as my Cook County E-file email & the latter account is currently empty. Do I need to file an answer? Do I need to file an Appearance?
If you have never been served the summons and complaint, you should not file an appearance or answer. In fact, you should speak in person with a consumer debt attorney to learn whether you have additional options. Under certain circumstances, you might even be entitled to damages if the collection agency has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
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Each case is fact-specific. Just because your strategy worked last time does not ensure it will work this time. What if the debt collector does have proof of the debt this time? Now, you've submitted yourself to Jurisdiction of the Court by filing your answer, and possibly prejudiced yourself.
As Ms. Goldstein stated, go talk to a consumer fraud attorney.
The question you have submitted to Avvo.com is to a public forum. As such, there is no attorney-client privilege established. Further, any answer provided to your question does not form an attorney-client relationship between yourself and Anthony R. Scifo. Any answer provided is not intended to be legal advice, and is provided for general educational purposes only. Further, please be advised that there may be additional information not disclosed that may change or alter the general answer provided. For any and all legal questions you may have pertaining to your specific case or set of circumstances, please consult with an attorney.
Generally, if the court file shows you have been served and you have not been, you should file a motion to quash service.
With respect to the old default judgment, get a copy of the "return of service" from the court file. If you can show it is false (corroboration is required for anything that the process server had personal knowledge of) you can get the judgment vacated. There is no time limit but you should act as soon as possible.
This is something you should have a consumer lawyer do for you.
"my question is, how do I file an answer when I've never been served and never will be?" That is your question and the answer to that question is this: obtain a copy of the complaint; read it very carefully; and paragraph by paragraph, admit or deny that which is alleged. Then, that answer has to be filed with the court and served on the attorney that filed the complaint. BUT, before you can do that, you have to file an appearance in the matter, which memorializes that you are of record in the matter either pro se or through legal counsel.
Sounds simple right? NOT SO!!!!
An answer has to comply with the rules of civil procedure and if it is not properly prepared with respect to form and substance, it will be stricken. So, even though your matter is relatively insignificant, and assuming that you do not want to challenge service as Mr. Edelman and the other counsel suggested, then I would at the very least retain legal counsel to properly file an appearance and an answer.
If you have not been served you do not need to file an appearance or answer. If you do choose to appear in court you will be asked if you would like to submit to jurisdiction and you have the right to say no. If you plan on litigating this matter than you may save time and the hassle of appearing at more court dates than necessary if you submit and set for trial.
However, here it appears the court believes you were served which means you can file a motion to quash service. Again if you are planning on litigating anyways that this will just buy you time.
As for the default judgment you need to file a motion to quash and vacate judgment. You should contact an attorney to assist. Good luck!
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