When facing a debt collection lawsuit, respond to the claim whether or not you intend to dispute it, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises. Otherwise, the court may award a default judgement to the debt collector and hold you accountable for the other party's legal fees. Answering the lawsuit forces the debt collector to show evidence of your liability, while ignoring the lawsuit or refusing to accept correspondence doesn't delay the process.
As collection agencies have the burden of proof, challenge them to present documentation demonstrating their ownership of the debts at the time when the lawsuit was filed, suggests the Ohio State Bar Association. If you have limited income and property, review state laws detailing the type of assets debt collectors can seize to determine whether you are "judgement proof." While exemption doesn't stop the lawsuit, it prevents collection agencies from taking protected assets. Confirm that you are the correct account holder named in the lawsuit, and check that the debt is within the statute of limitations for legal action, as the agency cannot sue for a debt that is too old.
In an unanswered lawsuit, the court may agree to whatever payment arrangement or portion of the debt the collection agency asks for, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains. Depending on the state, the agency may be able to obtain a court order granting the right to seize bank account funds, garnish wages or file a lien against your property. Generally, the process of having a court order reviewed or overturned is more difficult than disputing the initial lawsuit.