Consumer Debt

Consumer Debt Defense Strategies

Consumer debt and bad credit have ripple effects, often causing serious stress and making daily life difficult.  Burdensome debt can be paralyzing: many people avoid thinking about it.  Often people borrow money for essentials–groceries or dental work, maybe–and often have already paid back more than what they borrowed, but fees and interest have increased the debt. 

And sometimes people are sued or harassed for debt that isn’t even their debt, or that shouldn’t be.

I can help you understand your situation and help you take steps toward managing your debt, or the debt that isn’t yours but that someone is trying to make you pay.  I can:

    • Explain your options when you have been sued for a debt;
    • Represent you in court if you have been sued by a debt buyer, or help you represent yourself;
    • Explain your rights when debt collectors contact you and help you stop them from harassing you;
    • Provide advice and limited scope representation when you are sued by a company that lent you money;
    • Help you exit a “debt settlement” or “debt consolidation” or “debt relief” plan with a company like Credit Solutions, National Debt Relief, or ClearOneAdvantage, and to understand why you should;
    • Evaluate your credit report with you and and help you correct errors;
    • Explain what your rights are if your wages are being garnished, your bank account is being levied, or a creditor is threatening to force you to sell your house because of a debt you owe; and help you prepare a “Claim of Exemption” to protect wages or a bank account or a “Homestead Exemption” to protect your home;
    • Help you understand whether bankruptcy might make sense for you and refer you to assistance if it does.

See below for links to free resources about consumer debt and bankruptcy.

The purpose of this web site is to provide general information.  It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your specific situation.  Neither the site nor contact with the attorney creates an attorney-client relationship.   Confidential information should not be sent unless an attorney-client relationship has been established.
El propósito de este sitio en web es proveer información general.  No ofrece asesoriamiento legal relacionado con su situación específica.  Ni el sitio en web ni contacto con la abogada crea una relación abogado-cliente.  Información confidencial no se debe de comunicar a menos de que se haya sido establicida una relación abogado-cliente.


Does bankruptcy make sense for you?

Bankruptcy offers a fresh start.  Bankruptcy is a good choice for many people who are too far in debt to get themselves out.  It makes it hard to borrow money for seven years, but that burden is often worth it.

Consumers can file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  The one that is right for you depends on how much property you have.  If you have been sued for debt, those lawsuits have to stop once you have declared bankruptcy.  Debt collectors have to stop contacting you.

I can help you evaluate whether bankruptcy might make sense and how you might go about declaring bankruptcy, either on your own or with a bankruptcy attorney.  I can provide referrals.

Information About Debt Buyers

Why might you be sued by a company you have never heard of?

If you are sued by a company you have never heard of and never borrowed money from, it may be because a company that bought the debt from someone else, like maybe a credit card company, and the new owner of your debt is suing you.  If a debt buyer wins its case, the debt buyer can take steps to get paid, like forcing a sale of the person’s home.

When debt buyers sue, the person they sue almost never shows up in court.  Maybe the defendant can’t find a lawyer or can’t afford one, or maybe they don’t even realize they have been sued.  When the defendant doesn’t show up, the debt buyer usually wins automatically.  This is very convenient for the debt buyer, especially because if they argue their cases in court, they are very likely to lose if the defendant has an attorney. 

What is a debt buyer? 

Debt buyers purchase debt from companies who lent money and have given up trying to collect the debt.  Debt buyers pay pennies for the debt and then try to collect on it.  The debt buyer may sue the person who supposedly borrowed the money, either to pressure the person to pay or to get a judgment against them in court. 

Some debt buying companies that are currently suing people in Mendocino County are Cavalry SPC, Midland Funding or Midland Credit, Portfolio Recovery, LVNV Funding, Absolute Resolutions, Achievable Solutions, Crown Asset Management, Second Round Sub, CVI SGP-Co Acquisitions, Jefferson Capital Systems, Credit Corp Solutions, Unifund CCR, and Velocity Investments.  Other debt buyers include Sierra Managed Asset Plan, Sunlan Corporation, and Grassy Sprain Group.

What if you never knew you were sued? No one ever gave you any papers about it, but then you learned the case was over and the debt buyer won and you lost?
You are not alone.  Debt buyers don’t always give proper notice to the people they are suing.  Because of California’s strong legal protections for people who are sued by debt buyers, you may be able to challenge the decision if no more than 6 years have passed since the case ended. 
Free Consumer Debt Resources
Responding to lawsuits from creditors
The California Courts Self-Help Center explains the process of a debt lawsuit, and what you can do.
The Sacramento Law Library also provides useful information, and some templates:


  • Upsolve, a nonprofit, coaches qualifying people through the process of filing their own Chapter 7 bankruptcies.  The resource is all online.  Their assistance is free, but you will still have to pay court fees and the cost of a credit counseling workshop.  You may make too much money for their services, and the app can’t help you if you and your spouse are filing for bankruptcy together.  If you are filing in Mendocino county, you will have to travel to Santa Rosa at least once.</li
  • A questionnaire from the National Consumer Law Center helps prepare you for declaring bankruptcy, including when you are representing yourself using assistance from Upsolve.

Borrower beware! 

Information from the National Consumer Law Center about the risks of some common financial products: