Can a collection agency take you to small claims court without notification?

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Can a collection agency take you to small claims court without notification?

Today I was served with papers that I was taken to small claims court, however, I was never notified of this action. When I received a call about the debt in question I asked them if they now owned the debt and I was told no. On the papers I was served it says I now owe them and not the original creditor. Is this legal to do?

Asked on February 21, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon

Answers:

Trevor Clement / Law Office of Trevor A. Clement, LLC

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Odds are you were served but didn't realize it.  Despite what you see on TV, somebody isn't going to walk up to you, hand you a paper and say "You've been served."  For a small claims action, most likely all they had to do was mail you a form from the court telling you about the suit.  Also, odds are the attorney sent it registered mail, so they have a record of when it was delivered to you.

The attorney doesn't own the debt.  Some company owns the debt and they hired the attorney to collect it.  Most likely, you're misreading the document.

So, what do you do now?

1. You can pay the debt in full.

2. You can try to negotiate a settlement.  Keep in mind they DO NOT have to accept a settlement.  They can demand that you pay every cent.

3. You can file a motion with the court asking that the case be re-opened on the grounds that you did not receive notice.  (Check with your state's small claims rules to find out how, or you can go to the court and ask, but odds are they won't help you because they're not allowed to.)  You would need to argue that you didnt get the notice.  Even if you succeed, all this means is that they will now have a trial on whether you owe the debt or not.

4.  You can do nothing.  Don't do nothing.  This makes bad things happen.


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