antipode12 wrote:yfan, thank you for your sensibility. (You are absolutely right to assume I paid for years trying to stay afloat. I even took my ex to court AFTER my credit was ruined, just to pay the debt.)
You're welcome. I really do hope this all gets resolved for you sooner rather than later.
antipode12 wrote:My understanding about the Collection Agency: they OWN the debt now; it's not just assigned to them. Therefore, paying it does not go back into the Bank's kitty. Correct?
Correct. The CA bought the debt from the bank, for pennies on the dollar, which is why even if they settle with you for significantly less than the amount owed, they would still be making money hand over fist.
antipode12 wrote:My understanding about a lawsuit: that once a suit is filed, the Collection Agency has already made numerous offers at discounted prices. So once lawsuit time comes, they should theoretically be most willing to negotiate. (BEFORE a trial and all the work, that is.) True?
Actually, not necessarily. You are correct that before a lawsuit is filed, the debt-holder (CA) presumably has tried to settle it out of court. But once they do file a lawsuit, that likely means that they are, at that point, less willing to cut a deal that is better for you. This is why I would suggest that, if you can pay a portion of the debt, you write a pay-for-delete letter to the CA (look up procedure here and elsewhere), and get them to agree to consider the debt settled for the amount you are willing to pay, AND to have them take it off your credit reports.
I can't be in the CA's head, of course, but my bet is that they will not risk filing a lawsuit over 5 grand if they can get anything from you out of court at all. Because once they file a suit, lots of things can screw it up for them. Besides the PR nightmare, you could demand they present proof that they own the debt, and their paperwork management is less than optimal. If they can't produce proof, you could go after them for frivolous lawsuit.
antipode12 wrote:And, I have read that even DURING the lawsuit process (from first Complaint, to Answer, through Discovery, etc.) I can continue to negotiate with them.
You certainly can. But you might get a better bargain if you make an offer before the suit is filed.