Debt 411

Are you being sued by a debt collector? You can fight back!

Don’t allow wrongful collection lawsuits, or lawsuits on old debt to go unanswered. Factual and legal defenses are available. Remember, anybody can sue you for anything and win if you do nothing.

Self Help Video from FTC

First: WHAT IS SERVICE? It is when a sheriff’s deputy or a private process server (a licensed person who delivers legal documents) has come to where you live or work and given you a complaint (lawsuit) that has been filed against you. You are being sued! With the lawsuit is a summons to appear in court and/or to provide a written answer to the complaint.

Second: DO NOT IGNORE THE SUMMONS! If you DO NOT appear in court or FILE AN ANSWER as directed on the summons, you are admitting you owe the money and a judgement WILL be entered against you by the court. The creditor will not have to prove anything to get a final order from a judge to make you pay. This is called DEFAULT and it’s an automatic win by the entity suing you. Once a creditor gets a judgement, sooner or later they will try to collect by garnishing your wages or placing liens on certain property or financial accounts.

Third: DO NOT GO IT ALONE! Creditors have attorneys experienced in debt collection; shouldn’t you? Many times debt collection attorneys and creditors can not prove in court what they are claiming. Even if you owe the debt, the amount is often inflated, incorrect, or illegal fees are simply made up and added on. Call us at 850-277-0777 for a free office consultation. In many collection lawsuits, we get paid by the entity suing you and will take your case on contingency. Contingency means you don’t have to pay if you don’t win.

Legal Note: Consultations must be in person! If you can’t travel to the Panama City region, search for an experienced consumer attorney in your area at

Fourth: DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING A CREDITOR REPRESENTATIVE IMPLIES OR DIRECTLY TELLS YOU. Creditors lie all the time! Yes! They and their attorneys are NOT your friends. They have sophisticated (and sometimes illegal) tricks designed to trap you into giving up your rights. Sometimes collection attorneys will ask you to sign certain documents or complete questionnaires in order to “help” you, or so you “don’t have to come to court.” DO NOT sign anything you receive with the summons!

Some attorneys will send you a “Stipulation and Final Judgment Withheld” and a letter telling you to call the attorney’s office to discuss the debt and other information in the letter. The stipulation may look like an official document that has been approved by the Court, but it is nothing more than a sly attempt for you to unknowingly admit to the truth of their allegations, and provide a simple means of collection for them. Some Courts in Florida have found these “stipulations” to be illegal and unenforceable. By sending these “stipulations” with or around the time you were served the summons and complaint, the debt collection attorney has violated state and federal law.

(850) 277-0777 3430 Hwy 77, Suites B, Panama City, FL 32405