In debt collection terminology, the 'last activity' on an account refers to the last date that a change to the account was reported. This could be any change, such as an increase or decrease in balance or the account being reported as settled.
What to do if sued over a debt in Maine
According to a 2017 study by the maine statute of limitations Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, approximately 15% of Americans have been sued by a debt collector. So if you are a resident of Maine facing the same challenge, this is not the time to panic; the most important thing is knowing what to do next.
Understand your rights
You have rights as a debtor that cannot be infringed upon by debt collection agencies or creditors. The Maine Fair Debt Collection Practices Act specifies what a debt collector can or cannot do when attempting to recover the debt from you.
According to this Act, a debt collector in Maine cannot:
Communicate with you at an unusual time or a place known to be inconvenient to you. (For example, they can't call you if you are in a meeting, and even if they do not have any knowledge of the meeting, they must only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m, your local time).
Contact you directly when you have provided proper notification to the collector that you are represented by legal counsel. Basically, once the debt collector is made aware of the fact that you hired a lawyer, they are obligated to engage in any future discussions with your lawyer first.
Communicate with you at your place of employment if the debt collector is aware or has reason to be aware that your employer prohibits such communication.
Communicate with a third party regarding the debt without your consent or that of a court of competent jurisdiction.
Communicate with you if you inform them, in writing, to stop contacting you.
However, under the last rule above, the debt collector can still communicate with you to inform you that 1) they will not be pursuing the debt anymore or 2) they intend to pursue a different path to recover the debt, usually court-related.
Also, in Maine, debt collectors are required by law to validate the debt you supposedly owe. This should be done within five days after the initial communication with you regarding the said debt.
Debt Validation Letter
You can request a debt collector to validate a debt by sending them a Debt Validation Letter before they take it to court. The collector's debt validation should include the following:
The exact amount of debt you supposedly owe.
The name of the original creditor to which the debt is owed (if the debt has been sold to a debt collection agency).
A statement informing the debtor that unless the debt is disputed within 30 days, the debt collector will assume it is valid.
A statement informing the debtor that the debt collector will prove the debt's validity if the debtor disputes it within 30 days.
The debt collector is also required by law to cease any debt collection efforts if the debtor responds in writing within 30 days of being served, disputing the debt, or any portion of it. By disputing the debt, the debtor shall request further clarification such as the original creditor's name, proof of debt owed, etc.
How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide
How to respond to a debt collection summons in Maine
Given that the Maine Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from some activities of debt collectors, you may as well take advantage of this protection to respond to a debt collection summons. Here is why it is never advisable to ignore a debt collection summons.
Importance of responding to a debt collections summons
Responding to a debt collection summons gives you a chance to fight the lawsuit and obtain a favorable outcome. For example, if the debt collector breaks any law while attempting to recover the debt from you, you may use this as an affirmative defense in court.
The most important thing is to request proof that you actually owe the debt in question, then. review the details of the debt and ensure that everything is correct. Debt collectors sometimes make computing mistakes, and this could reflect on your debt report.
If you choose to ignore the summons, you may miss a precious opportunity to spot such errors and dispute the debt. Similarly, the court will rule in favor of the debt collector and pass a wage garnishment order against you. This order allows your employer to deduct a portion of your wages and send it to the debt collector.
To prevent this from happening, consider the following tips:
Contact the debt collector to negotiate a repayment plan.
Represent yourself with help from SoloSuit. File an Answer to the debt collection summons if you and the debt collector failed to reach an agreement.
Consult with an attorney.
Maine deadline for responding to a debt collection summons
In Maine, you have up to 20 days to respond to a debt collection summons. The clock starts counting from the moment you are served with the Summons and Complaint.
If you fail to respond within 20 days, the court will pass a default judgment against you. This judgment means the case has been ruled in the plaintiff's favor, granting them legal permission to employ various processes to recover the debt, such as wage garnishment.
Understandably, the 20-day deadline may not be enough to respond, especially if you don't know where to start. Besides, debt collection laws can be quite complicated, depending on the nature of the debt.
This is where SoloSuit comes in handy by helping you create an attorney-approved Answer within minutes! Rather than waiting days and risking a default judgment against you, let SoloSuit help you take the first steps to fighting back in court.
SoloSuit provides a platform where you can provide the case details, which an attorney will then review before drafting the most appropriate answer. The Answer document will then be forwarded to the court and a copy delivered to the plaintiff, as per Maine's debt collection laws.