Sued for a Debt You Don't Owe?

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Debt collection agencies sometimes try to collect debt from people who don’t owe anything. Worse yet, collection agencies sometimes sue people for debts they don’t owe. If you’re sued for a debt you don’t owe, you likely can win your lawsuit and get damages from the collection agency that’s suing you.

Contact BCJ Law if a debt collection agency sued you for a debt you don’t owe. To get a free case review from our debt defense attorney, call 1-800-997-5561 or complete our contact form.

Debt collectors frequently attempt to collect debts in error.

"More than half of consumers contacted about debt 'said ... these contacts included at least one debt ... in error.'"

CFPB Survey (2017).

 A recent survey conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that close to a third of consumers contacted about debt said these contacts “included attempts to collect at least one debt the consumer believed her or she did not owe.

The CFPB’s survey also found that a third of consumers contacted about debt said “the amount the creditor or collector was trying to collect was wrong [for] at least one of these debts.” In total, the survey concluded that more than half of consumers contacted about a debt said “these contacts included at least one debt the consumer felt was in error.”

Types of lawsuits for debts that are not owed.

Sometimes consumers are sued for a debt they don’t owe at all, or for a debt they paid partially of in full. Other times, consumers are sued for fees or costs they don’t owe, or that are unauthorized or prohibited by law. Here are common types of lawsuits on debts that are not owed:

  • Sued for Someone Else's Debt: a debt collector sues a person who never owed the debt.
  • Sued for Already Paid Debt: a debt collector sues a person who owed a debt, but paid it entirely.
  • Sued for Inaccurate Amount of Debt: a debt collector sues a person for amounts that already were paid or that the person never owed.
  • Sued for Improper Interest and Fees: a debt collector sues a person for interest that never accrued, for fees that were never incurred., or for interest and fees that are not authorized by contract.
  • Sued for Unlawful Interest and Fees: a debt collector sues a person for interest, fees, or principal that the debt collector is not permitted to collect under the law.

Can I ignore a lawsuit on a debt I don't owe?

About a third of consumers contacted about debt said these contacts "included attempts to collect at least one debt the consumer ... did not owe."

CFPB Survey (2017).

You should not ignore a lawsuit if you think you don’t owe a debt. If you ignore a debt collection lawsuit, the collection agency gets a “default judgment” against you. That means the debt collector wins automatically, without presenting any evidence. Once a judgment is entered, the collection agency can garnish your bank account and attempt to seize property

Some consumers mistakenly believe courts won’t allow debt collectors to win lawsuits on un-owed debt. If you contest the lawsuit, that may be true. But if you don’t notify the court that the debt collector’s case is defective, then the court won’t question the debt collector’s allegations. That’s why it’s critical to contest debt collection lawsuits, even if you don’t owe the debt at issue. 

Can I get damages if I'm sued for a debt I don't owe?

There are various laws that provide for damages when you’re sued for a debt you don’t owe. These laws include, but are not limited to, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA), the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), and the Dragonetti Act. These laws provide for the following damages:

  • Actual Damages: these cover any monetary harm you suffered and any anxiety or stress caused by improper legal actions.
  • Statutory Damages: these provide extra damages for the legal violations and include up to $1000, and up to three times any monetary loss you suffered.
  • Punitive Damages: these are available only in special circumstances, usually when egregious violations of the law occur.
  • Attorneys' Fees and Costs: most legal violations concerning lawsuits on debts not owed allow attorneys to recover their fees and costs from the collection agency that sued you.

Hire BCJ Law to help.

If you’re getting sued for a debt you don’t owe, contact BCJ Law for help. For a free case review from our debt defense attorney, call 1-800-997-5561 or complete our contact form.

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