All types of people in Mississippi might experience financial hardship and fall behind on paying their debts. When debt collectors start to contact these people, they might use harsh tactics that inspire fear. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that 25% of debtors have felt intimidated by collection agencies. Although debt is a serious matter, people have legal rights that potentially give them the ability to limit aggressive collection practices.

Being served with papers for a lawsuit from a debt collector ranks high on debtors’ fears. Even when people feel helpless when confronted by lawsuits, they should never ignore them. They should supply their official answer to the court within the deadline stated in the lawsuit. When people fail to tell the court their side of the story, judges side with debt collectors. They issue judgments against debtors that could enable drastic actions like wage garnishment or asset seizure.

Debtors can demand that the parties suing them prove their right to collect the debt. Creditors often sell unpaid debts to collection agencies. Debts might pass through multiple hands before a collector files a lawsuit. Legally, the burden of proof falls on the collector. Collectors do not necessarily possess the documentation to support their demands for payment. If that party cannot provide documentation showing that the person signed a credit agreement, then the court could side with the debtor.

Before responding to a lawsuit, a conversation with an attorney might be informative. A lawyer could check on issues like the debt’s statute of limitations. A person experiencing financial difficulties could also learn about bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing could temporarily halt collection actions or a foreclosure. A successful filing might discharge or restructure debts and give a person a fresh start on life.