Collection Defense & Debt Settlement

We are experienced in resolving debt issues.  There are four ways to solve any debt: bankruptcy, litigation, settlement, or outside of court options (finance, being judgment proof, etc.).  For each client and debt, we look at each option to determine which would be most effective on the numbers and then help you decide which path would be best to pursue.

Collection Defense Services

We can help you defend yourself against collection claims and zombie debt.  You have many legal rights that collectors must observe.  In Washington State, these rights include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, and the Washington Collection Agencies Act,  RCW 19.16 as well as other laws.  Any procedural error, factual error, or purposeful fraud can lead to the case being dismissed and possibly damages being awarded and your attorney fees paid for by the debt collector.

Do you Need an Attorney?

Not everyone needs an attorney.  Our basic rule is does our involvement in your matter improve your situation from a cost-benefit analysis perspective.

Generally, if the debt that is being collected is more than $5,000.00 or if your total debt load (including this suit) exceeds $10,000.00 or if you there are consumer protection violations, you will want to call us.  See our collection defense triage page to help determine if you need an attorney or if a do it yourself approach is better.

General Forms for Self Help:

Scheduling a Free Initial Phone Consultation & Free Forms

Go to our scheduling page to schedule an appointment.

How Do We Defend You?

There are four ways to defend a debt: Bankruptcy, Litigation, Settlement, and Out of Court/Outside of the Box Options.  We analyze every debt in relation to each of these potential solutions and the specifics of your situation to come up with one or more solutions.  We take a bankruptcy as a last resort approach to ensure there is not another, less drastic solution that would work for you.  Click each link to explore each technique in greater depth.

  1. Bankruptcy Options (Ch 7, 11, 13, adversarial litigation)
  2. Litigation Options (Evidentiary objections, counterclaims, offset)
  3. Settlement Options (Lump sum, payment overtime, waiver of claims/offset)
  4. Out of Court/Outside the Box Options (Finance, judgment proofing, social media/protest, etc.)

Additionally, we have several specific pages designed to help with specific debts & issues:

What Type of Debts Do We Defend & Special Topics?

Essentially, any type of debt.  For a complete list, click here.

How Much Do Our Services Cost?

With all legal answers, it depends.  Primarily it depends upon the complexity of your case, whether you have counterclaims, and other factors.  See our Fees page.  For the most part, we start with a free phone consultation and then are able to give you a specific quote.  Our general rules of thumb are:


Did a Predatory Debt Settlement or Debt Consolidation Company Take Advantage of You?

Washington has laws to fight predatory debt settlement and debt consolidation companies.  The Debt Adjustment Act, RCW 18.28, is the first place to look and sets strict limits on the amount that can be charged (15% total amount of the debt in fees, no more than $25.00 to set up the account).  If there are violations of this act, the Washington Consumer Protection Act (RCW 19.86) kicks in and may entitled you to triple damages and attorney fees.


Did a Hospital Fail to Consider You For Charity Care?

Washington holds hospitals to the standard that they must offer charity care options.  See RCW 70.170.060 and WAC 246-453.  Failure to do so may result in violation of law.  Your right to request charity care is ongoing, even if referred to collections.  If you suspect that you are being denied your right to request or be considered for charity care, give us a call to see how we can help.


The General Flow of a Collection Case

1) First Contact.  The Debt Collector will attempt to call, write, email, or otherwise contact you.  The appropriate defense is to send a debt validation letter certified.

2) Served with Summons & Complaint.  You may be served with either a filed or unfiled complaint.  You will have only twenty days from the date of service to answer.  The appropriate defense is to file an answer with the court and serve the answer upon the opposing party.  Your answer should allege all affirmative defenses.

3) Motion for Summary Judgment.  If you answer the complaint on time, the creditor will typically file a motion for summary judgment (MSJ).  The appropriate defense here is to file a response alleging triable issues of fact with the court and serve it upon opposing counsel.

4) Trial.  If the motion for summary judgment is not granted, then the next step is trial and all of the litigation that accompanies a trial.

This flow chart is a vast oversimplication of how a collection case works and there is a great deal of nuance that goes into defending and litigating a collection case.   Typically, the sooner you defend yourself the less costly and more successful you will be.



We attack the evidence, we attack the procedure, and we attack the standing of the creditor.  We challenge any facts alleged and make them prove their case.  Any error the other side presents, we exploit it.  If there are significant violations of law, we can file counter claims on your behalf.  Here are some of the services that we offer:

FDCPA Validation Letter: We can prepare a debt validation letter on your behalf.  Debt collectors are prohibited from further collection activities until they validate the letter under the FDCPA.  In many instances, this can make the creditor go away.

Demand Letter: Sometimes a letter from an Attorney gets the job done.  Whether you need to demand a collector to cease and desist or a settlement amount, we can help.

Answer to Complaint: Debt collectors rely on you not answering the complaint and the collector obtaining a default judgment.  We can help you craft an answer that not only attacks the evidence but presents affirmative defenses.  If affirmative defenses are not alleged in your answer, they may be deemed waived.  We can help you from losing out on potential defenses that could result in the dismissal of the claim.  Additionally, we can allege counter claims if applicable and seek damages and attorney fees.

Discovery: We can propound or help you to answer interrogatories, requests for admissions, and request for production of documents.  Discovery can be used to force a creditor to prove up their case.  If the documents and information returned is weak, we know to push harder and settle low.  If it is strong, we know to avoid trial or hearing and try to settle mid to high but below principal in any case while limited the other sides attorney fees.

Motion for Summary Judgment: We can defend or file a motion for summary judgment.  We can object to a creditors declaration and evidence and submit out own.  This is a chance to win the entire case in some instances though in most instances prevailing just means you get set for trial.  Often times, even if you would otherwise lose a case, creditors do not have time for a trial and so winning a motion for summary judgment means you can get a good settlement if you are inclined to go in that direction.

Motion to Vacate: If you were never served or if there is a reason, we can move to vacate a default judgment.  It is very fact specific on whether this has a high or low likelihood of success.

Trial Representation:  We can represent you in trial scenarios and have trial experience.  In most instances, unless counter claims are alleged, trial should be avoided and a settlement should be reached due to the cost-benefit and risks involved.  However, if the debt is large enough or if the circumstances are right, it is worth the risk.  Winning at trial is a complex calculus of your facts, quality of opposing counsel, and how the judge feels about your case.

Garnishments:  If you are post judgment, we can still help.  If the garnishment is incorrect, we can attack it or counterclaim.  If you were never served, we can do a motion to vacate.  We can also help you answer a garnishment.

Supplemental Proceedings:  If you are post judgment and are being called in for a supplemental proceeding, we can help.

Bankruptcy: We reserve this option in case it is more cost effective than litigation or if a loss at hearing or trial requires this.  Its a bit like having two bits at the apple keeping this in reserve.

Debt Settlement: At any point in the process, we can attempt to settle the matter.  Our opinion is that it is better to settle with leverage.  This might be an initial notice of appearance and discovery package or it might be after a summary judgment.  At worst, if your facts indicate you will likely lose, we can settle prior to a judgment being entered to mitigate the damage.

Debt Strategy:  We can take a look at your entire financial profile and each debt that you are facing.  We can craft a strategy to deal with each.  Based on the types of debt, timing of a creditor coming after you, and other factors, we usually create a layered defense plan.  An example might be where one or two debts might be strategically defaulted upon, settle one or more as they come in to litigate, fight the big one or two major debts you face, and follow up with a well timed bankruptcy designed for maximum discharge.


Options for Representation

We can tailor our representation to fit your needs.  Many clients prefer an ala carte approach where we can provide advice and ghost written documents to support you while you otherwise represent yourself.  Other clients prefer a more traditional full representation where we handle all aspects of your case.  Whatever your preferences and budget, we can help.  Call today for a free phone consultation: (206) 535-2559.

Representative Collectors we have opposed: Accelerated Collection Services, Accounts Receivable, Alliance One, Allied International, Armada, Asset Acceptance, Asset Recovery Group, Audit & Adjustment, Cach LLC, Capital One, Cavalry, CBS Collections, Columbia, Credit Bureau, Credit International Corporation (CIC), Delbert, Dynamic, Duvera, EGP Investments, Evergreen Financial Services, Evergreen Professional Recoveries, Fair Resolutions, FIA, Grimm Collections, I.Q. Data, LCS, Merchants Credit, Medical Data Systems, Midland Funding, National Credit Services, National Service Bureau, Olympic Collection Inc., Olympic Credit Service, Ozark, Pennymac, Physicians & Dentists Credit Bureau, Portfolio Recovery Services, Ranier Collections, RMS, Saba & Associates, Select Portfolio, Stellar Recovery, West Coast Adjusters, and many more.

Representative Law firms & Attorneys we have opposed: Condo Law Group, Bayview, Bishop White Marshall, Daniel N. Gordon, Gordon Aylworth & Tami, Jeffrey G. Yonek, Krista White, Lovik & Juhl, Lucie Bernheim, Machol & Johannes, Michael O’Meara, National Collegiate Trust, Patenaude & Felix, Payne & Hickel, Sound Legal Partners, Stephen Bernheim, Suttell & Hammer, and many more.