Tips to Overcome the Fear and Anxiety of a Junk Debt Lawsuit
You’re out of your element. Unless you went to law school, the court room seems like a scary place. They speak a different language and attempting to learn the courtroom procedures from any clerk is hopeless, for the most part. You’re not alone. The fear and anxiety your are faced with during a debt collection lawsuit is tremendous.
There are a few things that always made me feel better and I think many others can benefit from these tips as well.
1. Don’t feel special, you aren’t alone. These debt collectors nor their lawyers sat around conspiring to file lawsuit against you in particular. In fact, you are simply a name on a spreadsheet with literally THOUSANDS of other names who also find themselves in your position, a defendant of a lawsuit. It’s business as usual for them. You are a number, a $ to them. Simply search the web. You’ll find tons of websites with forums and postings of thousands of other people in your same position. In some way, the web was an excellent “support group”. Do you think any of the debt collector’s lawyers lose sleep at night over these cases? Do you think any of the employees of the junk debt buyer’s company loses sleep? No way. So why should you? While they may position themselves as a “person of power” over you or bully you into feeling less of a person, forget it. They put their pants on the same as you every morning.
2. What’s the worst case scenario? Sometimes it truly helps to figure out what the worst absolute outcome could be – a judgment against you might mean a subsequent wage garnishment or whatever but that’s certainly not the end of the world. Really though, a judgment isn’t the end of the world, its not like you will go to jail or something. But this is not to say you should take the situation lightly…I just encourage you to view the situation realistically and react appropriately. Sometimes, to avoid the worst case scenario, sometimes all you have to give is a little bit of effort.
3. Sit in on other cases and learn court procedure. Taking the fear of court room procedure out of the equation will help your situation dramatically. Court proceedings, with a few exceptions, are open to the public. Go sit in and watch what goes on. In fact, look up your local civil court calendar, find some junk debt cases and go sit in on them. You can learn a lot by listening to the “players” and watching how your local court conducts itself. It’s a lot like the first day at school or at a new job, wouldn’t it be great if you went in and played a “fly on the wall” to get a feel for things? Why not do it for your day in court? And if anyone asks you if you need help or are waiting for a case, just say, “Nope, just a citizen observing.” Easy as that.
4. Educate yourself on the law regarding your case. Knowledge is power and the more you understand the case against you, the better off you will be. Carefully look over the documents in the case and familiarize yourself with them. Find your local law library. The law library in my county is free and the law librarian can help you find what you need.
5. Be proactive. If you care about the outcome of the case, you will begin planning your defense, whether you do it pro se or hiring an attorney, from the moment you become aware of the lawsuit. You are doing yourself a big disservice by procrastinating and putting it off. Not to mention, if you wait until the last minute to, for example, file an answer, you could risk having it filed past the deadline and that would not be good.