If a creditor sues you, it is almost always advisable to respond, even if the debt is not yours (especially if the debt is not yours). You can respond either yourself or through a qualified New Jersey attorney, but the response must be filed within the allotted timeframe.
What Happens When You Ignore Creditor Lawsuits?
Many are of the philosophy that if you ignore something long enough it will go away. While that may be true of in-laws, ignoring a creditor lawsuit will not make it go away. Refusing to accept or sign for the letter informing you of the suit, will not help you.
If you choose to ignore the creditor lawsuit or do not file a response in time, then the court may issue a summary judgement against you for the entire amount of the debt, or even the entire amount that the creditor is asking for, which could be more than the amount you really owe.
Once a judgement has been filed against you, creditors get a lot stronger (like Popeye with a can of spinach strong). The judgment gives them access to a whole new arsenal of collection tools, such as wage garnishment, freezing your accounts and placing liens on your property.
In addition, once a judgement has been issued, it becomes infinitely more difficult to dispute a debt. Since a judgement is a court order, only a court order can reverse it. Courts are not likely to reverse or set aside a judgement once it’s been ordered, so disputing a debt prior to the order is always advisable.
What About the Statute of Limitations?
Some debts do actually expire. While determining their expiration date can be tedious most times, it is possible to argue that the debt has expired and is therefore no longer collectable.
However, you cannot do this while continuing to hold your head under the sand like an ostrich. In order to use this defense, you will have to respond to the lawsuit and prove in court that the debt has expired.
Garland & Mason provide invaluable help to those in Manalapan, and throughout Monmouth County who are struggling with debt related issues.