Just because you allegedly owe a debt does not mean that you have no options or no rights. But you need to know your rights and exercise them. As both a consumer rights lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer, I may be able to help.
As both a bankruptcy attorney and a consumer rights attorney in Portland, Oregon, I often represent people who are being sued by creditors or debt collectors in Multnomah County or the surrounding counties. If you have outstanding debts that you can’t afford to pay, then filing a bankruptcy to wipe out the debts may be your best option. (For more detailed information about bankruptcy, go to my Chapter 7 bankruptcy page.) However, there are other options that can be, and should be, explored, as filing bankruptcy is not the best solution for every debt problem.
There are often valid defenses to these debt lawsuits.
One defense may be that the statute of limitations has run since the last time you used or paid on the account. This means that the creditor or debt collector has not filed the lawsuit against you within the applicable period of time allowed by law. The question of what statute of limitations law applies to the debt often depends on the particular law specified in the contract that gave rise to the debt. Often it is 6 years (Oregon’s contract period as well), but in some circumstances can be as short as three years from the date of default. Filing the lawsuit passed the statute of limitations would be a complete defense to the lawsuit. Another defense may be the amount demanded may not be accurate. This would be at least a partial defense. Sometimes, the creditor or debt collector even sues the wrong person! As shocking as this is, I’ve represented consumers in such cases more than once. Such lawsuits can and should be defended. Sometimes the debt collector/creditor may also be sued/counter-sued for violations of the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act, or other consumer protection statutes (click here for more information on this subject)
In the end, it is important to remember that as the plaintiff (the one suing you) it is the debt collector’s burden to PROVE that your debt is valid and enforceable, that the amount claimed is the amount owed, and that (if the plaintiff is a debt buyer) there was a valid assignment of your debt by the original creditor. However, if you do not act in time (30 days from the date you were served with the “summons” and “complaint” in an Oregon non-small claims court) the debt collector will then apply for a default judgment and you will lose your chance to assert a defense. Once the debt collector gets a judgment against you, in Oregon the judgment will automatically attach as a lien to your home (if located in the same county) and is valid and enforceable for 10 years (and can be renewed quite easily). With a valid judgment, the debt collector can also get a writ issued to garnish your wages and/or bank accounts.
If you are being sued by your credit card company, a debt collector, and/or a hospital/medical services provider in Multnomah County, or a surrounding county in the Portland metro area, please contact me at (503) 847-4329 for a FREE phone consultation to discuss your options.