I had a client come in to my office having read about my many years of being a prosecutor in Los Angeles and wanted to know if I can help him with a summons and complaint filed against him by a credit card company. I have and continue to work on many “white-collar" crimes, including but not limited to, embezzlement, forfeiture, fraud, in both the federal and state level.
I took his case because I felt he had acted in good faith to attempt to discuss and settle his debt. But as many of you are aware, if you do not have an effective and competent attorney speaking on your behalf, you are either not taken seriously and/or taken advantage of. Simply put, it is time to “lawyer up."
My client, as many of us are familiar with, has been harassed with numerous phone calls, letters from a debt collection law firm and threats of a possible lawsuit being filed against him. As such, he contacted the debt collection law firm, both in written and telephonically, about settling the amount owed. Most of the funds were used to pay for medical bills. He made numerous efforts to explain why he was late in making the payment. Additionally, he also offered to pay almost 80% of the debt but the law firm made one contact with him.
They were unwilling to accept the amount he was proposing to pay and required that the full amount be paid. Immediately thereafter, he was served with a summons and complaint for the monies owed and attorneys’ fees and costs. He hired me to represent his interest in this civil case. I immediately contacted the law firm representing the credit card company—which is one of the major banks, we the taxpayers bailed out.
Unlike many who attempt to negotiate with debt collector law firms, talking to an attorney will be impossible. You are generally dealing with support staff or their representatives. Knowing this, I requested to speak with the attorney handling my client’s case. We finalized the terms of the stipulation and reached a resolution outside of court.
The terms generally will be that my client will pay only 50% of the debt owed in a payment plan and the remaining balance would be forgiven. However, if he defaults on the payment, the full amount owed will be required of him. Moreover, no attorneys’ fees and costs will be paid by my client if strict compliance with the payment plan is followed.
It is critical that the attorney insure that the payments are received on a timely basis and that all of the terms are met. A default on the judgment will negatively impact a client’s credit report. It is to your best interest to insure that a civil case such as the one I described is handled effectively and timely. Your failure to respond accordingly could mean a default judgment being entered against you which could mean more headaches in the future.
Hiring a lawyer to fight such battles insures that the “playing field" is equalized. What I find disturbing in a daily basis is that so many individuals are taken advantage of since they are inadequately prepared to properly contest the legal difficulties they face. Therefore, it is critical that you find an attorney that you feel will help you detangle the web that we sometimes weave.