What to know: Avoiding warrants
- March 17, 2011 - 4:41 PM
Bill collectors can legally seek warrants to arrest people who don't respond to legal action over debts. But debtors can take steps to avoid arrest.
• Carefully read documents from collectors. You may not recognize a creditor's name or the amount owed. Old debts often are sold to debt-buyer firms, which tack on interest and fees.
• If you get a summons and complaint, it means you are being sued and the case is going to court. A summons can be delivered by hand or by mail, and needn't be filed in court first.
• Respond promptly to a summons, admitting or denying the debt and disclosing requested information. Watch for court hearings. If you ignore such legal matters, the collector can win a judgment by default and seek a warrant for your arrest.
• Debtors have some rights even if they owe money. For example, Minnesota law prevents collectors from obtaining judgments after six years.
• If you want professional advice, but can't afford a lawyer, ask the court clerk about volunteer attorneys who answer questions about collection cases.
Sources: National Consumer Law Center, Federal Trade Commission
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