News, Developments in the Law, and Collection Horror Stories


David S. Osterman, Esquire

Appointments are available Tuesday and Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings.

99 Middle Street
Manchester, New Hampshire 03101

Tel: 603-626-5452
Fax: 603-626-5453

Defend Collection Lawsuits Effectively

It is important that you defend any collection lawsuit brought against you. Eighty-five percent of collection lawsuits are won by the creditor by default. This happens because the debtor fails to defend him or herself in court. Judgment is automatically entered for the creditor. At that point, the debt is carved in stone and almost all possible defenses are lost forever. This can and does happen even when the debt is not actually owed.

By failing to defend the lawsuit a debtor may be giving up a valid defense which could have eliminated the debt or been used in negotiation to reduce the amount owed.

Do not assume that you have no defense to a debt. Some debts need to be in writing or they cannot be enforced. Every debt collection lawsuit is subject to time limits called a "statute of limitations". This law should stop any lawsuits against you after a certain amount of time has passed. In New Hampshire, the time period that a creditor has to file a lawsuit is unusually short as compared to most States. But if you do not properly assert the defense, you may lose it and a completely avoidable judgment could be entered against you.

You may even find yourself facing a lawsuit to collect money that you do not and never did owe. All collection agencies use "skip tracing" tools to locate missing debtors. Mistakes are made, and frequently the wrong "Mary Jones" is sued on a debt. In every case you are entitled to proof that you are facing a valid claim or lawsuit. If you don't assert your rights, you may find yourself held responsible for that other person's debt.

In this computer age, identity theft has become a common problem. If someone else has used your name to incur debt, you are not responsible for its payment. Computerization also makes accounting mistakes difficult to correct. If you are defaulted because a debt payment was made but misapplied, we can help you correct the record or defeat a lawsuit. If you are an authorized user, but not the account holder on a credit card, you have a defense to a collection action brought against you. If a debt was incurred through duress or fraud, we can help you. And if you were incapacitated as a result of youth, mental incompetence, or even (very rarely) intoxication when the debt was incurred, you may have a defense.

Even where no absolute defense exists, we can often negotiate a settlement for a lower amount than is owed, and we can almost always work to structure reasonable time payments for you.

The legal world is complicated. The collection agency pursuing you has legal talent on its side. Don't allow a loss in court by failing to fight for your rights. Do not assume that you do not have a defense to a lawsuit before you talk to us.