Thousands of New Yorker’s have fallen behind on paying their bills. The New York Times reports that debt collection law firms have taken over the docket in New York Civil courts demanding repayment. In New York County, there are two courtrooms devoted to debt collection lawsuits.
The Times highlights the role of Cohen & Slamowitz, a Woodbury, N.Y. law firm. The firm has been filing roughly 80,000 (wow!) lawsuits a year with only 14 lawyers. Because debt collection law firms often do not have enough staff to vet their cases, the basis of many lawsuits is improper. In my experience, many debt collection lawsuits have incorrect information about the debtor and the amount in dispute.
Credit card companies have increasingly sold off debt to debt buyers. They sell the debt in bulk, usually for 5 cents or less on the dollar. The new owners of the debt then hire a law firm and then attempt to collect on the debt. The law firms are hoping that people fail to answer the lawsuit and try to collect on a default judgment.
If you have been sued as a result of an alleged debt you should:
- Read the papers that are given to you to find out the party that is suing you. Do you have any relationship with the business suing you?
- What are you being sued for? Is it a credit card debt?
- Ask for verification of the debt. Make the law firm provide paperwork proving that you owe the debt. Often they are unable to come up with it.
- When was the lawsuit filed? Depending how you have been served, you must provide an answer within 20 or 30 days.
- Has the debt been resold? If the debt has been resold to a company that is located outside New York, it is unlikely that they will be able to provide a witness at trial. Even if the debt is valid, they will be unable to prove it and you will win.
- Where are you being sued? If you are a New York resident and the lawsuit is in New Jersey, they do not have proper jurisdiction over you and you can have your case dismissed.
If you have beens sued in New York for a debt, contact me at the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.