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Be Wary of Deals You May Be Asked to Make in the Court’s Hallway

The collector’s attorney will not want to try the case and often will collar you in the courtroom hallway and try to work out a deal. The collector’s attorney is only looking out for the collector’s interest and not yours. No matter what the collector’s attorney tells you, he is not there to help you and may be taking unfair advantage of you or even misrepresenting things to you.

In return for giving up your right to go to court and force the collector to try the case, expect a substantial reduction in the amount you owe. The more defenses you have, the greater the reduction. Also think about other settlement terms. You might ask the collector to help you clean up your credit record, by agreeing in writing that it will no longer report that you owe the money and that the collector will tell the original creditor to do the same.

If you reach an informal agreement with the collector, still go to court to file an appearance and answer. The safest course is to file a copy of the written agreement with the court clerk to be entered into the court record. No deal should include a judgment being entered against you unless you have no defenses and the settlement is for only a fraction of the debt owed. A judgment being entered against you is a very dangerous thing—this can lead to your bank account being frozen and the amount owed whisked out of your account in no time.

If you are not represented by an attorney, you may need help to determine if a settlement is fair and reasonable. Never agree to anything you do not understand or which you think is unfair. Whenever possible, wait until you see the terms of the settlement in writing before you agree.