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What To Do If A Creditor Sues You for Debt

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When a creditor sues you - Court and Periodic Payment Hearings

Never ignore a lawsuit. Do not ignore mail received from a court. By responding to a lawsuit (you may do this by filing an appearance), you may challenge the amount of the debt the creditor claims you owe, or the amount of attorney’s fees requested by the creditor.If you ignore the lawsuit, you will lose any rights you may have to challenge the debt.

If the judge decides that you owe the debt, this is called a judgment. If a judgment is entered against you, you will likely receive a notice to appear at a periodic payment hearing to set up a reasonable repayment plan. At the hearing, you will have a chance to show that you are unable to pay the debt by filling out a financial affidavit. You must go to the "periodic payment hearing" to keep this right. If you fail to attend the "periodic payment hearing," the court could issue a warrant for your arrest.

The Court cannot order you to pay a judgment from certain types of income.These include Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Assistance to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (APTD).

New Hampshire Legal Assistance operates a Periodic Payment Hearing Clinic and may be able to assist you at the hearing. If you feel your rights have been violated regarding the collection of a debt, contact the State Attorney General Consumer Protection Bureau at 888-468-4454, or contact an attorney. Low-income individuals may apply online for assitance from LARC or call LARC at 1-800-639-5290. If you are not low income, call the NH Bar's Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) at 603-229-0002 to obtain the name of an attorney (there may be a nominal fee for the referral made by LRS).

This pamphlet is based on the law in effect at the time of publication. It is issued as a public service for general information only, and is not a substitute for legal advice about the facts of your particular situation.

August 2014
Legal Advice & Referral Center

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