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so I finally spoke to the lawyer. Unfortunately the only lawyers around here that give free consultations is a criminal lawyer so this wasn't quite up his alley but he still gave me a lot of help. lawyers around here charge $300 an hour. He said I have to get the deadline off my back and have something in the system. So I should file a form called General denial. Then he suggested I should seek out a settlement after I do that, perhaps a week after or so
he told me I have to speak to the court clerk again when I'm ready
he did say I can google a form or a template or something, but he said the clerk might have a form
I went and they do not, but they said its just either an email or a letter I type up. I asked to make sure, its nothing formal? and they said no, just type up, explain things on your end if you want to, and it will be in the system. the monday deadline where I just automatically lose will no longer be in effect. I will then have to wait 45 days
within the 45 days I can reach out and see if I can settle
the criminal lawyer even suggested I should do this myself. A lawyer can charge AT LEAST 600. If I settle on top of that, then its like, I may as well have paid the whole thing
Sorry for jumping into the middle of the thread. Seems like you're owning up to a legitimate debt that you've incurred. And that's okay. That being said, and as has been mentioned in this thread, the collection agency probably paid $50 for your debt (pulling a number out out my ass, but they literally paid pennies on the dollar for it), so they are going to be willing to work with you on this, without a doubt. Now, whether they'll knock off the interest that's accrued, I have no idea. But if, IF you get into talks about payment, keep that fact, that they paid likely a tiny sum for the debt, in mind. I'm also certain they'll be willing to work out a payment plan that you can afford; they'd rather you pay anything than have to devote more time and resources into your relatively small debt. Just some things to keep in mind.
So, do everything you've already planned, with your letter and certainly questioning their right to sue, has their been previous attempts at contact, etc (including the good advice you've received from previous posters). Just trying to look at it from a worst-case, you gotta pay something back scenario.
According to this website sponsored by a law firm specializing in consumer rights and finance law, debt collectors can't collect attorney fees from you unless it was specifically written into your original contract, and that's apparently extremely rare.