What to do if I’m being sued in the amount of $1200 for 2 bounced checks totalling $400?

The checks were in the amount of $200 a piece. I had post-dated the checks and forgotten about them after a few months, then closed my bank account because of problems I had with the bank. The plaintiff never tried to contact me to try to resolve the issue before filing a small claims suit. I don’t think I should owe $1200 for this. Would I need a lawyer to avoid paying this or is a losing battle?

Asked on January 14, 2013 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It sounds like your bank is trying to add fees, including collection costs for the bounced checks.  If the agreement that you had with the bank authorized the imposition of these fees, then they could potentially charge you for them.  The amount of the fees does seem a little bit high for the amount of the checks that you have noted.  You could try to hire an attorney to get the amount lowered, but you will have to pay an attorney to do this for you.  Before you make a final decision-- see if it's even cost effective to do so.  (i.e. is the cost of the attorney going to offset your potential savings).  Many creditors "high ball" their fees.  You can also try to just negotiate a lower fee-- namely offering to come up with $800 lump sum in exchange for a release. 

If you do not hire an attorney and the bank will not work with you, make sure that you file a general answer to the small claims suit.  If you do not file an answer, then a default judgment could be entered against you and you would be stuck with the full amount of fees.  At a final hearing, it would be their burden to prove that they are entitled to the extra fees.  If you object, then judge may also cut them for you if they do not meet their burden.


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