Collection Defense Resources

As a law firm focusing in protecting our clients from their creditors, we know that a cost efficient approach to your case is appreciated.  As part of our services, we provide many free resources to help you see if you can resolve whatever legal issues you are facing without our assistance or to handle the small things prior to bringing us in for the tougher things where you need a full service firm to take over.  Please take your time to review all of the resources on our site.  You are welcome to give us a call to schedule free 15 minute phone consultation.


Collection Defense Resources

We appreciate you coming to our website and considering our firm to assist you.  We encourage all potential clients to consider free resources prior to retaining us if your matter is simple and the amount in controversy makes sense.  If you have questions, give us a call to see how we can help.

The page you are on now is for Collection Defense Resources.  Below is our big list or resource pages by area of law.  Continue down the page for the specific Collection Defense Resources.

  1. General Referrals (Pro Bono, Low Bono, Referral Services, & Government Agencies)
  2. Bankruptcy Resources
  3. Consumer Protection Resources
  4. Credit Report Resources
  5. Debt Collection Resources
  6. Family Law Resources
  7. Foreclosure Defense Resources
  8. Identity Theft
  9. Landlord Tenant Resources
  10. Lemon Law
  11. Small Claims
  12. Student Loans

Disclaimer: No attorney client relationship is formed by use of any of the below links, forms, instructions, or third party sites.  These resources are provided free of charge for use on a pro se (without an attorney) basis.  We recommend that you consult with our firm or a firm or other agency of your choosing to fully understand your rights, the availability of counter claims, and other relevant issues.


Collection Defense Resources

This page is organized into referrals, free forms, and information.  Scroll down as appropriate.

Pro Bono Legal Assistance for Debt Collection Issues:

Online Pro Bono Assistance for Debt Collection Issues:

Garnishment Resources & Calculators


Forms & Instructions Based on Stage of Collection

  1. In DEFAULT but not in collections yet
    • Consider your options to settle, file bankruptcy, or avoid the debt.  Call us for a free consultation.
  2. In COLLECTION but have not been served a summons and complaint yet
  3. You have been SERVED but no judgment has issued yet
    • If you have not yet filed a special notice of appearance, use the below form
      • Print, fill out, and sign this Special Notice of Appearance Form & Instructions
      • Send a copy to the attorney who wrote the complaint both certified AND first class mail (2 letters)- contact information is on the lower right footer of the complaint
      • Fax a copy to the attorney using the fax number on the lower right footer of the complaint
      • If there is a case number, file a copy with the court
    • If you are facing a motion for default
      • File an answer, under CR 55 the attorney must strike the motion
      • Go to’s site for answering a complaint.  Send your answer to the opposing attorney (via fax and certified first class mail) and if the case has been filed then file a copy of your answer with the court.
      • Send a copy to the attorney who wrote the complaint both certified AND first class mail (2 letters)- contact information is on the lower right footer of the complaint
      • Fax a copy to the attorney using the fax number on the lower right footer of the complaint
      • File a copy with the court
    • If you are facing a Motion for Summary Judgment or a Trial
      • This is a complex scenario, call us to discuss your options
  4. A JUDGMENT has issued and you have not been garnished yet or only one time
    • You may be able to vacate the judgment depending upon if you can prove you were not served and had no knowledge of the judgment, call us to see if we can help
  5. A judgment has issued and you have been GARNISHED MORE THAN ONE TIME
    • Generally, if you have been garnished more than once without contesting the judgment, you are deemed to have waived objection.  It is not impossible to vacate but it is very challenging.  Call us to see if we can help.
  6. The debt is UNCOLLECTABLE
    1. Debt is time barred, discharged in bankruptcy, settled in full already, or judgment has expired
    2. If you have a debt that cannot be collected upon and the collector is trying to collect regardless, call us to see if we can file a suit for damages.
  7. Mistaken Identity or Identity Theft
    1. If this is an issue of mistaken Identity (not ID theft, but for example your name is Juan A. Munoz and they mistakenly sued you for Juan B. Munoz’s debt), provide your correct information to the collector in writing and inform them you will sue them if they do not back off.  Call us if they do not back off.
    2. If this is an issue of identity theft, go to our Identity Theft page for further instructions.

Charity Care For Medical Bills

Washington State has a charity care policies (RCW 70.170 & WAC 246-453) that allow for reduction or waiver of certain medical bills.  These rules applies to hospitals generally, however, small private clinics are typically not covered.  It is always advisable to request a charity care application even if you do not think you would be covered as you never know if you will qualify for reduction or a payment plan option.

Contesting Proper Service

Challenging proper service can be an uphill battle.  It comes down to evidence.  If the process server (lying) says that they served you and you (truthfully) say they did not, who does the judge believe?  The process server appears neutral and so on the balance the judge will believe the process server most times.

If you are challenging proper service, you need to have very strong evidence, typically something documentary in nature or strong enough to cast serious doubt upon the process server’s version of events.  See our blog post on this topic.  Examples include:

The official rule for service under Washington State Rules can be found in RCW 4.28.080 and CR 4.  The short description is personal service requires that YOU or SOMEONE who lives with you of suitable age and discretion and physically served.  It gets more complicated in that if you run from the process server, hide from the process server, they hand it to your twelve year old child and she hands it to you, the Court could find that you were properly served.  Call us to see if your service was proper.

The Time Frame to object to improper service varies.  Generally you are held to the standard of acting as swiftly as possible once you are aware of the case.  If it is early in the case you can file a motion to dismiss though usually they will just serve you then or soon thereafter, increasing legal fees (tip- if you are beyond the statute of limitation this is good technique).  If a judgment was obtained by default, it is usually from the first time you discovered it (pulling a credit report, receiving a garnishment, etc.).

Call us if you believe improper service could be a defense.  If possible, go into your court case and pull the certificate of service.  The certificate of service is the affidavit submitted by the process server describing how and when they allegedly served you.


Instructions on how to Settle a Debt & Verify Terms of a Settlement

Our firm policy is that we only take cases where our assistance will likely put you in a better position than if you did not use our services.  Sometimes, if there is a lack of legal leverage and the amount in question is small, retaining us makes little sense from a return on investment perspective.  Other times, some clients just like to try to settle a debt on their own.  In either case, the below tips will assist.

  1. Determine if you are dealing with a debt buyer or the original creditor.  If it is the original creditor, there is usually less play to lower the debt unless it is quite large (like a mortgage) and also many counterclaims under the FDCPA and other statutes cannot be used.  If it is a debt buyer, they have likely paid .05 to .10 on the dollar and there is more room for negotiations.
  2. Determine if you have legal leverage.  This can mean you are judgment proof, you work in an all cash field where you would be hard to garnish, if you are bankruptcy qualified and willing to file, if there are legal defenses and counterclaims, or anything else that would act as leverage.
  3. Determine if the debt is pre judgment or post judgment.  If a judgment has not been rendered yet, there is more room for negotiation.  If there is an existing judgment, this will make settling more expensive.
  4. Determine if this is a government debt or where there are legitimate threats to your drivers license.  These situations make the negotiation more expensive generally.
  5. Our general guidelines are that a collector generally will need or want .20 on the dollar to cover overhead and break even on a file.  There are times they will take lower but generally only in the face of total loss (i.e. bankruptcy or legitimate counterclaims).  Generally, if you have great leverage, you can likely settle in the .30 to .50 range, if you have little leverage and are prejudgment, you are more in the .40 to .75 range.  If you are post judgment, dealing with govt. debt, have exposed assets or income, etc. then you are looking at .60 to .90 on the dollar.
  6. LUMP SUM vs PAYMENT OVER TIME.  Lump sum is the only way to fly if you want a discount.  If you are paying over time, the trick is they will continue to add interest or will process a payment late to take away any negotiated discounts.  Try to avoid payment over time at all costs.  Consider loans from banks, hard money lenders, friends, etc. to try to come up with enough cash.
  7. MAKING THE OFFER.  Call the number on the bottom right footer of the complaint.  Have the case # and/or file number handy.  Be polite and understand who you are talking to are trained to be mean and trap you.  Do not admit liability on the debt and ask to speak to someone with authority to settle.  State your leverage politely, if any, and tell them your offer.
  8. CONFIRMING THE OFFER & PAYMENT.  After your discussion, write a confirming fax (fax number will be on the lower right footer of the complaint).  A fax is important because you can prove it was sent and received.  In the fax, you state your name, case number, and other identifying information.  Write down the details of the terms of negotiation.  Request corrections if you are incorrect in the next 48 hours or you will take steps per these terms.  Pay per the terms in certifed funds, keep all tracking information of the payment itself and letter it was sent in (send via certified mail).  See Sample Letter Below:

Settlement Terms Confirmation Regarding King County District 12-1-56432-5 SEA, Joe Smith

This FAX is to confirm the terms of the settlement I discussed on 8/25/18.  I spoke with someone named Rachel.  Rachel said that if I paid $1,500.00 in certified funds within 30 days of that date, that would settle the account in full.  If I am incorrect on any of these terms, please contact me using the below information within the next 48 hours.  I will take steps to make my settlement payment to settle this matter in full thereafter.  Please file the satisfaction of judgment within the statutorily required time and report this as paid as agreed on my credit report within the statutorily required time as well.  My phone number is 1-206-555-5555 and my address is 5555 Elm St. Seattle, WA 98125.      Signed/Date Joe Smith.


Disputing Credit Reports

Go to our FCRA Litigation page for further assistance


How to Tell if a Collector is Real or a Scammer

See our blog post on this topic.