How soon can a collection agency take me to court?

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2012

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How soon can a collection agency take me to court?

A collectiin agency contacted me one time, wherein I provided an alternate phone number and requested documentation that they own the debt. Although they say it was sent out, I did not receive it and they never contacted me again so I assumed it was fraud. One month later, I receoved a subpoena for court. I have tried to resolve the debt with the agency but they will not answer any questions I have. What are my rights?

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A creditor or their collection agency can sue you as soon as you are in default on a debt. There is no obligation to wait some time or to try to negotiate or discuuss matters with you--they can proceed directly to court, once you have failed to pay a debt when due.

Now that you are involved in litigation, you may make use of the legal process of "discovery"--for example, document production requests, written interrogatories, and even depositions (though depositions can be expensive) to find the information you want, such as proof of the debt or of this collection agencies ownership of it. If they cannot prove that you owe  the money or that they are the ones with the right to enforce it, they will not be able to get a judgment against you.

Best would be if you retain an attorney to help you. If you can't afford a laywer, or the amount is so small as to not justify one, get a copy of the court rules  (you can get them from your court) and you can send interrogatoriess and document production requests to the other side on your own. Don't forget to file an Answer first, though--if you don't Answer, you will lose by default. The court rules will also have information on filing Answers.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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