Consumer Protection Law
Consumer Protection Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
You actually have to answer the summons, or they'll get a default judgment against you, which means the judge will order you to pay the full $16,090.67, and you'll have forfeited the right to defend yourself. It's extremely important to file that response. The statute of limitations for breach of a written contract is 6 years in both Oregon and Washington, so they're allowed to sue even if you haven't paid in 4 years.
Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that when a consumer requests validation of debt, the creditor must cease collection efforts until they have produced it. If they have not responded to your request for validation, you could actually file a Counterclaim for $1,000 for violation of the FDCPA (which at least might reduce what they order you to pay them).
An Answer is very fact-specific. There are a couple of ways to respond. One is to file a general denial, which states that you deny the allegations in the Complaint and calls upon the creditor to prove it (which is their burden as the plaintiff). The other option is to go through each numbered statement in the Complaint and state whether you admit or deny the statement, or lack sufficient information to admit or deny it.
After that section, you're allowed to state your defenses, if you have any legal reasons that you shouldn't have to pay, filed by your counterclaims.
This packet was designed for use in another state, but the basics of how to draft an Answer are good and would also work in Oregon. It might help to take a look..
The danger in waiting is that they might not send the letter in time. You absolutely can wait if you think they might be able to produce proof that you owe the amount they're asking for. There's no benefit to filing an Answer early. Just keep an eye on the calendar to make sure you have enough time to write the Answer if you don't get the validation letter. You can always request to make payment arrangements - it's up to them if they want to negotiate.