Have you ever been talking to someone, perhaps even arguing with them, and someone else walks over and tries to join in and insert themselves into the conversation? Well, that’s pretty much what debt buyers do.
In our practice, we handle a lot of debt cases and often they come to us once things have escalated, or after a lawsuit has been filed. It’s easy to get lost in the details of interest calculations, amounts owed or alleged to be owed, previous settlement offers, how much time has passed since the debt was incurred, etc. Clients usually want to discuss the credit card, auto loan or other debt that is at the center of the dispute.
But to some extent, that all misses the point. Sure, as lawyers, we analyze all of those issues and may use some of them in your defense, but there is a very large elephant in the room that must be acknowledged.
YOU DON’T HAVE A CONTRACT WITH THE DEBT BUYER (PROBABLY)
That’s right, in the vast majority of cases, there is no contract you entered into with the debt buyer that is now suing you. If there was a contract, and that’s a big IF, it would have been with the original lender/creditor. That’s who your dispute should really be with. The debt buyer is the guy at the party that walked up and tried to insert himself into your conversation with another.
Now, the debt buyer will try to claim that they were assigned the contract from the original lender and have now “stepped into the shoes” of the original lender. But that’s an entirely different animal. They now have to produce other bona fide “contracts” that show a valid assignment of the original contract to the debt buyer. Often, they cannot.
For this reason, it is important to keep in mind that the debt buyer does not automatically get to “join the conversation”. As lawyers, we will often hammer this point because if they don’t have a contractual relationship with you, then there’s nothing further to discuss. And this is where the lawyering comes in. Getting ahold of the correct documents and making the case is what it’s all about.
So the next time you feel bullied by a debt buyer, picture that weird guy at a party trying to join your conversation. What right does he have? Does he even know anything?