Creditors trying to get you to pay what you owe do not have a lot of resources at their disposal without going to court. They can send bills and reminder notices. They can contact you over the phone. They can even refer you to a debt collection agency. But that’s about it. Yet if they take you to court and win, it is a different matter altogether.
A company suing you in civil court for debt collection purposes is all about obtaining a legal judgment against you. A legal judgment is a court order that recognizes the debt and your obligation to pay it. But it also gives creditors access to stronger tools for compelling payment.
3 Things Debtors Should Never Do
Civil courts around the country hear debt collection lawsuits every day. Debt collection is one of the most common scenarios that wind up in civil court. Should a creditor ever decide to take you to court, a lawsuit would have to be filed first. You will know you are being sued if you are served a summons from the local court.
Here are three things you should never do if served a summons; the same three things apply to any debtor being sued by a creditor:
1. Refuse the Summons
Some debtors think they are smarter than creditors or their attorneys. They think they can avoid a lawsuit by refusing to be served. They think that by refusing to accept a summons being hand-delivered to them, they can escape the lawsuit and eventual payment. Not only is such a strategy foolish, but it also doesn’t work either. Don’t do it. Refusing only makes the situation worse.
2. Fail to Respond to It
You have a legal right to respond to a summons once served. A typical response would be to obtain an attorney who can look over the summons and proceed accordingly. There may be legal paperwork the attorney needs to file on your behalf, paperwork that could ultimately contribute to the outcome of the case.
3. Fail to Appear in Court
The third thing you should never do if you are sued for debt collection is not appear in court. It is not clear why debtors do so, but failing to appear in court is pretty common. Courts are left to rule on the assumption that no-show debtors have chosen to forfeit their cases.
A Default Judgment Is Entered
As for why you should never do these things, the answer is pretty simple: refusing a summons, failing to respond to it, or not showing up in court will almost certainly result in a default judgment being entered against you. A default judgment is legal recognition of your forfeiture.
By defaulting, you are pretty much agreeing to accept whatever the default judgment says. You’re willing to accept the amount you owe plus any additional fees and costs the creditor decides to add, within the scope of what state law allows. This generally means attorney fees and legal costs.
Judgment Collectors, a collection agency in Texas that specializes in judgments, explains that default judgments are nearly impossible to appeal. Courts tend to pay no attention to defendants who fail to participate in the legal process and then turn around later and ask to have a judgment vacated.
Not participating in the system could also lead to a creditor hiring a company like Judgment Collectors to come after you. That is the last thing you want. Experienced collection agencies that understand how judgments work are particularly good at what they do. And they are relentless.