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What can I do to prep (docs, research, strategy) for court on Jan. 2; being sued for a credit card balance? Goal: settlement/mo

Pekin, IL |

-Can I file an "answer" instead of appearing?
-Sum appears to be inflated, but not able to confirm from the original creditor (the plaintiff, a law firm, included the last balance statement and two additional payments I made to them after the debt was charged off by the card co., and passed to the law firm). They, of course, added attorney's fees of $350.
-When I made the 2 payments to law firm in August, I told them I wanted to do a settlement. They were very unreasonable in their negotiations and spoke of $3k-$5k lump sums. I told them if they couldn't do a more reasonably monthly-type payment plan, the best chance of getting them a lump sum settlement would be after first of the year, after income tax returns.
-The firm continued to call relentlessly and finally sent the summons.

Should I contact the law firm in advance of the appearance date and try to settle, or is this a bad play with respect to trying to get the balance reduced?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

You need to appear if you are required to do so. Your answer is not in lieu of an appearance. You would benefit from a consultation with a consumer debt or collections attorney, especially one who handles the defense side.

Posted

Based on your question it sounds like this is a collection company opposed to an original creditor, if so you should speak with a collection defense attorney before you do anything.

Many of us give free consultations, and even if one charges you it will likely be a wise investment.

If you have been served, do not ignore this and do not skip a court date, doing so will result in you being defaulted and waiving any defenses you have to the claim. If you are going to represent yourself you will need to personally appear on every court date.

Asker

Posted

I plan to appear. What I really want to know is whether I should contact the law firm who now holds the debt. I explain in my details that I tried to negotiate previously and they wanted lump sums as opposed to monthly payments. If they could hold off until first of the year (which is what I was asking them for originally), I'd have an income tax return.

Joseph Paul Giamanco

Joseph Paul Giamanco

Posted

I wouldn't for a variety of reasons. What you should do is pick up the phone and call a lawyer as two of us have told you already, before you do anything that may prejudice your case.

Asker

Posted

I did that before I came online asking for free advice. The local attorney wanted $1500 retainer and $225/hr. But thanks for the attitude and carefully reading my question...all that was helpful.

Asker

Posted

I'm pretty sure I stipulated I need a "Collections" attorney in the form.

Joseph Paul Giamanco

Joseph Paul Giamanco

Posted

First off, I'm sorry you feel I was giving you "attitude", that was not my intention; however, it was my intention to motivate you to pick up the phone and call an attorney who handles collection defense cases. And I did "carefully read" your question. Rules with Avvo.com prohibit attorney's from soliciting clients or phone calls directly, so I can not tell you to call me". I would not have responded if I didn't know what I was talking about. While my main practice area is personal injury, I also regularly handle collection defense matters and I was in court this morning on one as a matter of fact. An attorney who knows Illinois law and has experience defending such cases will know that your case is in fact likely defensible, and perhaps on multiple grounds - but they will need more facts to know for sure. Finally, be aware, not all advice given on Avvo.com is correct - I have seen attorneys, especially those from out of state, on multiple occasions give incorrect/bad advice when it comes to Illinois law. So before you rely on anything you read on the internet, whether on Avvo.com or another site, you should call an Illinois attorney who gives free phone consultations and deal with such cases. Good luck to you.

Posted

You are proceeding under several false presumptions. First, if a court date is scheduled for Jan. 2, that means, in all likelihood, that you're already in default on this since you mentioned that you haven't filed an "answer" to the complaint. Filing an answer, assuming you haven't already done so, would have been required long before a court date was scheduled. More important, however, is this basic fact - you don't deny owing the money. You've admitted it to the law firm. You've made payments to the law firm. There is no way you're not going to have a judgment entered against you. None. So, what you're really looking for here is some kind of deal to settle this. Let's be 100% clear - you are not entitled to a "deal." No one is. Just because you want one doesn't mean the creditor has to give it. If they think their better option is to simply obtain the judgment and then garnish your pay or levy your accounts, that's what they'll do, and there is nothing on earth you can do about it. Now, you can certainly contact them and make some kind of proposal, but it probably won't involve making payments - they'll want a lump sum immediately. They aren't going to wait some indefinite period of time to get it. Frankly, it's a waste of time to litigate this - there is nothing in dispute here. You owe the debt. The question now is how it is going to be paid.

Answers on Avvo are not to be considered a response to a specific legal issue in a specific jurisdiction - they are to be considered only general responses to hypothetical scenarios posed by the questioner. For specific legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. No information contained herein should be construed as a solicitation for business, an offer to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which the attorneys of Corbin Law Office are not licensed, or the dissemination of legal advice. No creation of an attorney-client relationship should be assumed or implied. We are a debt relief agency. Corbin Law Office helps people file for bankruptcy relief under the bankruptcy code.

Asker

Posted

Yes, I believe that is exactly how it probably stands too, and I have no problem with you being candid. Nothing wrong with also being kind too though. You're saying there is "nothing on earth" I can do about it, but being in marketing, I'm sure there is some positioning (meaning, how I present my truth and desire/request) that would improve my chances of getting a settlement, or giving me fairer terms if they are to garnishee my wages. There's also probably some protection measures someone could advise as for what I should do with money currently in any accounts if I want to have anything left for rent and food after this. I did try to settle this. Just for your own FYI, I had no problem with any of the other debts I had to settle as a result of job loss. This particular credit co. is aggressive, unreasonable and frankly, downright mean to it's "customers" once you have any sign of financial issues. That lesson aside, this is where I am. I'm sorry if you all feel like I derserve some punishment for not being able to pay on a debt. My history shows I have always paid; I am not of that percentile that lacks integrity, shirks responsibility, or looks for loopholes, and my need for advisement is real. But I can already see from this experience that I'm hardly being treated fairly by this particular credit co. or it's representatives. So, because I can't pay an attorney a retainer + hourly to file documents or otherwise represent, I would fully appreciate any suggestions for how I can be prepared, what will be asked of me at the appearance, and what can be expected.

Asker

Posted

One other comment, they just served me the summons yesterday. It looks like there was a 10-day lag in it being notarized and me receiving it. I don't know if I was supposed to file something in response or if I have no choice BUT to just appear. I'm not really a litigious person so, out of my depth.

Posted

Call a bankruptcy lawyer right away to discuss your options. If this is your only debt, it may or may not be worth it to file for bankruptcy. However, by the time you spend money on defending yourself, you may be better off with bankruptcy, which will eliminate the debt, if you qualify. Also, even defending the claim will not guarantee that you win or can get a better settlement.

If you have other debts as well, bankruptcy may be best way to go. Bottom line, call and set up an appointment with a Bankruptcy lawyer in your area to review your options.

Daniel J. Winter
BankruptcyLawChicago.com
djw@DWinterLaw.com
Offices in Chicago, Gurnee, Oak Lawn, and Skokie, IL
312-789-9999

Any advice given is general in nature and cannot be relied upon until the client retains the attorney after a full interview and review of the facts of the situation. No attorney-client relationship exists until a retainer agreement is signed and fees are paid.