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Bankruptcy May Be Your Option

Possible defenses if you were sued for debt

If you fell behind on payments, you may be able to negotiate an agreement or payment plan with your creditor. Communicating with your creditor is key. Most creditors do not sue people who are making good faith efforts to repay the debt. Creditors are much more likely to file a lawsuit against a debtor who refuses to communicate and misses multiple payments. Getting sued for debt is a scary prospect, but if it does happen, you may be able to defend against the claim.

One possible defense is that the claim was not filed in a timely manner. Every state has something called a statute of limitations, which is a time limit for filing a lawsuit. Under Oklahoma law, the statute of limitations for filing a debt claim is five years for debts based on written contracts and three years for debts based on oral contracts. You may have a defense to the claim if the lawsuit was not filed within that limit. 

You may also have a defense to the debt claim if your contract contained something called an arbitration provision. Generally, an arbitration provision requires the parties to settle disputes through an arbitration process, rather than in court. Check your contract. If there is an arbitration provision, then the lawsuit will likely not be valid.

Another defense to a debt claim is that the creditor did not properly document the ownership of the debt. Occasionally, creditors will sell the debt to another entity. This entity will then try to collect on the debt. If the debt collector is unable to produce verification that the debt applies to the original creditor, the debt collector may not be successful on the claim against you.

In addition to the defenses above, you may be able to claim mistaken identity—that you are not the right person to collect from. Or, you may be able to raise the defenses that the debt was already discharged in bankruptcy or that the charges were fraudulent, such as in the case of a stolen credit card.

This post is intended to cover only the most common defenses to debt claims. If you were sued for debt, you should speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to find out your options. 

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