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1.1.2 Topics Covered in This Treatise

This treatise assists attorneys in the representation of consumers sued on credit card, medical, and other consumer debts. In recent years, there has been an explosion in not only the number of consumer debts being enforced in courts, but in the number of such actions in which the consumer does not owe the debt, the consumer has substantial defenses, or the creditor has no reliable evidence as to whether the consumer owes the debt.

The entity bringing most consumer collection actions today is not an original creditor but a debt buyer that is represented by a collection law firm that brings huge numbers of cases in state courts. The debt buyer suing on a debt may not even be able to produce adequate evidence that it owns the debt being sued upon.

These realities color all aspects of consumer collection actions and point to the need for a comprehensive treatise to assist attorneys in representing consumers in such cases. This treatise examines consumer defenses and counterclaims, the elements of the creditor’s causes of action, evidentiary issues, and various practical considerations. It also contains chapters covering a number of specialized issues: the rights of active duty military personnel; the collection of medical debt; debts owed to the federal government; criminal justice debt; and debts arising from dishonored checks.

This treatise examines in depth consumer protections when the creditor seeks to enforce a judgment through wage and benefit garnishments, bank account garnishments or freezes, seizure of homes or personal property, debtor’s examinations, and even imprisonment for debt. This treatise also details consumer rights to set aside a judgment or discharge it in bankruptcy. Finally, this treatise details steps that a prevailing consumer should consider taking after a judgment is issued in favor of the consumer.

The “Debt Defense Checklist” in § 1.4, infra, provides a good starting point to begin collecting the information necessary for an attorney to handle any particular case. Several considerations come into play for different types of debt and at various phases of a collection effort—and the checklist pinpoints the relevant information for each type of debt and phase of a lawsuit.