If I have a debt that was turned over to collections, do I hire a lawyer to negotiate the debt or do I just pay it?

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If I have a debt that was turned over to collections, do I hire a lawyer to negotiate the debt or do I just pay it?

The amount is $3,800.

Asked on June 14, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no right or wrong answer. Factors to consider:

1) If it's a valid debt in all regards and the other party has or likely has documentation, they will almost certainly win. If they pursue it and you fight, you'll end up paying--and also paying some legal fees and court costs. Therefore:

a) If you can afford to pay, you probably would;

b) If you can't afford to pay it, and especially if you have other debts you can't pay, and you're contemplating bankruptcy, you probably would not pay--let the bankruptcy filing address it.

c) Altnerately to b), you could try to settle for  less than face value, especially if you can show financial weakness on your part, so the other side will understand they can't expect to collect  it all.

2) If it's either partially valid, but you're not sure about the amount; or it's valid but you feel the evidence on the other side is weak, you might initially fight but with an eye towards settling it for something less than the full amount.

3) If you think it's not a valid debt, you'd almost certainly fight--unless you're in such strong financial shape that you'd rather pay $3,800 than go to the time and trouble of fighting.


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