Debt Collection Lawyer

If you are owed money, we can help you collect. If you are holding delinquent accounts receivable, credit card accounts, lines of credit, hospital bills or defaulted loans, consider using us. We handle claims starting at $5,000.  Contact us at (972) 705-9911.

Debt collection in Texas is no easy thing.  For starters, much of what debtors own is exempt under state law.  For a list of exemptions, see Chapters 41 and 42 of the Texas Property Code.  Equity in a homestead is 100% exempt, as is up to $30,000 in personal property for an individual and up to $60,000 for a married couple.  There is no wage garnishment in Texas for a debt (other than for taxes and child support) and 100% of an individual’s retirement benefits are exempt.  Relatively speaking, Texas is a debtor friendly State.

Typically, the debt collection process involves writing a letter to the debtor requesting payment of the debt. Section 38.001 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code requires a demand for payment to be sent to the debtor at least thirty days before suit is filed for breach of contract as a prerequisite to recovery of attorney’s fees.

If the debt is a consumer debt, collection practices are governed by both the federal and state fair debt collection practices acts.  Debtor are given the opportunity to challenge the debt or to request documents verifying the debt. If a debtor requests verification of the debt, such verification must be provided before further action is taken to collect the debt.  Upon expiration of thirty days, a suit on sworn account (if the debt is owed to someone who performed a direct service or provided goods) or a suit on account stated (if the debt is owed to a credit card company or a bank) is typically filed. If the debtor is successfully served with citation, the debtor must file an answer either by Monday next after expiration of 20 days (if suit is filed in County or District Court) or Monday next after expiration of 10 days (if suit is filed in Justice Court or Small Claims Court). A Justice of the Peace presides over both the justice court and small claims court. The two courts differ in the following respect: Texas Rules of Evidence apply in justice court cases, but not in small claims court cases. Justices of the Peace now have jurisdiction over cases up to $10,000.

If the debtor fails to answer and defaults, the creditor then moves for the entry of a default judgment. Because a suit on sworn account or account stated is supported by affidavit, the debtor must file a sworn denial. Many times the debtor - especially if the debtor is representing himself or herself - does not file a sworn denial, which is a procedural defect. If not corrected, the failure to file a sworn denial could lead to the entry of a judgment against the debtor. Most collection matters settle. But if the case goes to trial, the creditor has the burden of proving the amount of the debt and the attorney’s fees incurred in collecting the debt. Once a judgment is obtained, it becomes final if it is not appealed within 30 days (if suit is in County or District Courts) or 10 days (if suit is in Justice or Small Claims Court). Once the judgment becomes final, the creditor has several options to try and collect. We invite you to review the Judgment Collection section for additional information on collecting a judgment in Texas.

Paul Vigushin is a Collin County attorney who also handles subrogation, divorces, child custody, child support and modification actions, Chapter 7 bankruptcy law and wills.

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