The stress of a lawsuit is unmatched by anything else. Suppose you are an Arizona resident who has been sued over a debt. In that case, you have a limited timeframe to take action. So what can you do to resolve your debt? What are the best ways to settle your debt as quickly as possible? Here is a simple, step-by-step guide to assist you in determining an obligation in Arizona.
To settle a debt in Arizona, follow these three steps
To settle a debt in Arizona, you need to follow these three steps:
- Answer the debt lawsuit.
- Offer a settlement to begin negotiations.
- If a settlement offer is accepted, get a written agreement.
1. Answer The Debt Lawsuit
Answers are legal documents that dispute or indicate your intention to contest a lawsuit’s claims.
Once you get a lawsuit notice, you have 20 days to file an answer with the court. If you miss that deadline, you’re liable for the total amount listed in the lawsuit.
It’s still a good idea to file an Answer even if you’ve already contacted the debt collector. If you don’t, sneaky collectors can go behind your back and request a default judgment anyway. Having an Answer on file lets the courts know what you want and that you’re willing to fight.
2. Offer a settlement to begin negotiations
Your first offer should be 60% of the debt.
Give the creditor a deadline to accept your offer or make a counteroffer, along with the amount you’re willing to pay.
You can’t expect the debt collector to accept your first offer. They might counteroffer you, which you can accept or decline. The idea is to start the negotiation process at least and figure out how much you can pay.
3. If a settlement offer is accepted, get a written agreement
Make sure you get a settlement agreement in writing before you pay. The debt collector may claim you still owe the rest if you don’t. Keep all the documentation you sent and received with the collector, including any emails you sent or received.
Here’s an example of how to settle a debt in Arizona.
An example is Mark, who had recently been sued for debt but had been able to file an Answer within the 20-day Arizona deadline. After receiving Mark’s answer, the creditor concluded that they would not be able to win the case in court. Instead of suing for 60% of the original debt, they settled for 60%.
Arizona’s debt collection and settlement laws can protect you
As a result of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Arizona debt collectors are subject to federal and state regulations as well as a series of requirements and prohibitions. Keeping in mind that Arizona’s state-level regulations are criminal statutes, you should be aware that you will not be able to sue a debt collector for violating them.
For example, Arizona law requires debt collectors to have licenses and bonds (Ariz. Rev. Stat. 32-1021, 32-1055). They can’t use unfair, misleading, oppressive, vindictive, or illegal methods to collect debts (Ariz. Rev. Stat. 32-1051).
Debt collectors can’t do these things under these laws:
- Asking for a collection fee, court costs, etc.
- Trying to get you to pay the debt with additional charges.
- Selling your debt to another person or business.
- Fraudulently claiming you owe money.
- Pretending to be a lawyer or having a legal department.
- Impersonating a government entity or legal representative, such as a lawyer, is illegal.
Considering that these laws constitute criminal statutes, you cannot sue the creditor for violating them. However, if you break one or more of these rules, you commit a Class 1 misdemeanor (Arizona Revised Statute 32-1056). You should inform your local city or county prosecutor as soon as possible.
The Federal Trade Commission recently amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule to extend debt settlement regulations to all debt relief companies and organizations. All 50 states, including Louisiana, are now governed by this Rule.
Any company that provides debt relief services, like debt settlement companies, can’t:
- Debt settlement companies can’t charge upfront fees before the debt is settled.
- Defend its services in a way that consumers won’t be able to see before enrolling. It includes the price, how long it takes to see results, how much money you have to save to get a settlement offer, what might happen if you don’t make payments on time, your rights, etc.
- Debt settlement companies can’t make unsubstantiated or false claims about their services.
How do I choose the best debt settlement company?
Choosing a debt settlement company comes with several risks, including expensive fees, hurting your credit score, and even getting scammed.
Here are some of today’s top companies for debt settlement in Arizona.
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Century Support Services
Century Support Services is accredited by the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), and its website offers a variety of tools and resources. However, the company has a reputation for hidden fees. To qualify, you must have at least $10,000 in debt.
Freedom Debt Relief
A convenient online client portal and excellent customer service are benefits that Freedom Debt Relief offers. Still, it would help if you kept in mind that you will need $7,500 in debt to take advantage of its services. The company has also been sued for criminal charges and a lack of transparency in its financial activities.
National Debt Relief
National Debt Relief has tools and resources for debtors, and the company is AFCC-accredited. However, you need at least $7,500 in debt to qualify, and the company takes up to 25% of the settlement.
New Era Debt Solutions
The company is also AFCC-accredited and offers live chat on its website. Unfortunately, the company must be more transparent about eligibility requirements and fees. Customer support is only available during the week.
Contact the collector using the best method
What’s the best way to make an offer to the debt collector? Generally, you’ll want a method that’s fast and has a paper trail you can use to document the exchange.
- It can work well for you if you find the debt collector’s email address; that way, you’ll be able to communicate quickly and in writing and have a record of everything you say. It can work well for you if you find the debt collector’s email address.
- As well as providing you with a paper trail, the postal system can also serve as a good source of information, especially if you are sending a certified letter. Although mail has its advantages, it also has its drawbacks. Naturally, paper mail is slow, prolonging negotiations and making settling harder. But on the other hand, this could give you time to think over any counteroffer you may receive and put you in a better position to negotiate.
- You need to provide proof that you spoke on the phone to make phone calls. Luckily, Arizona is classified as a one-party consent state, which means that if you are a party to a conversation, you can legally record it with and without the other party’s consent (see AZ Rev Stat 13-3005). A real danger, however, is to face a trained negotiator who will manipulate you into accepting an offer that isn’t fair. It is always a good idea to be wary of collectors who insist on making phone calls and on always being prepared to record any conversation for your records.
Arizona debt settlement FAQs
How much is a reasonable offer to settle a debt?
The first offer you should make is about 60% of the total amount that you owe as a debt. Generally speaking, this amount of money is a perfectly reasonable offer. Still, only some debt collectors will be satisfied with it. Be prepared to accept or reject a counteroffer. If you wish to reduce your total obligation, beginning the negotiation process as soon as possible is essential.
What is the point at which Arizona’s debt becomes uncollectible?
There are several kinds of debts in Arizona, and the statute of limitations varies depending on the type:
- Credit Card Debt: Three years.
- Auto Loan Debt: Four years.
- Medical Debt: Six years.
- State Tax Debt: Ten years.
In the case of credit card debt that is over three years old, as well as medical debt that is over six years old, debt collectors cannot sue you.
Do you think it’s better to settle a debt or pay it off?
Please pay off your debt as soon as possible. Loan officers are likely to look more favorably on you if they see the words “paid in full” in your financial history.
In light of this, it may not be possible for you to pay off your debt, or the financial hardship that may result from it could prevent you from achieving other financial goals you desire. It is a better option to settle your debts since it reduces your overall burden, eliminates your debt quickly, and gets you on the road to financial recovery faster.
Debt Settlement in Arizona
Consider options unique to Arizona residents if your strategies aren’t helping you pay back your debts.
Arizona is one of the few states with a homestead exemption, meaning that your home’s equity is protected from creditors. This could be a great way to help you pay back your debts without facing foreclosure.