Who Is Patenaude & Felix and Why Are they Suing Me?
Patenaude & Felix is a debt collection law firm based in San Diego, California. The law firm has attorneys licensed in many states, including Washington state, which allows them to file debt collection lawsuits on behalf of creditors throughout the country. Most employees of this firm are not lawyers but rather skilled debt collectors who are tasked with extracting the most money out of your bank account as possible on behalf of their clients who consist of Discover Bank, Capital One Bank, Citi Bank and National Collegiate Student Loan Trust among others. Patenaude & Felix does not typically purchase debts, but the law firm represents other debt purchasers and original creditors. Typically when you call this law firm you will first be talking to a debt collector, even if a lawsuit has been filed by a local attorney in your case. If you do call be sure to have your case number, file number or SSN.
Prior to having a lawsuit filed against you, typically Patenaude & Felix will attempt to contact you via first class mail and perhaps debt collection phone calls. It can take several months or even years for this law firm to actually sue you in the hopes that they can collect without having to go to court. The statute of limitations to sue on a debt is 6 years from the last account activity on your account. This could be in the form of using credit or making a payment on the account.
If a lawsuit is filed be sure to check and see if it has a case number on it. In Washington a lawsuit can be filed sans case number and without actually filing a case at the courthouse which helps Patenaude & Felix save on collection costs while being able to obtain a default judgment against you for failure to respond to the lawsuit. If a lawsuit has been filed against you, you should file an answer in response to buy additional time in which to dispute the collection, settle, or ask for validation of the debt. Taking no action is the worst thing that you could do as the law firm could obtain a default judgment and begin garnishing your wages or bank accounts immediately after winning a judgment. Now that you know who Patenaude & Felix is, the next step is to figure out how you can deal with them.
How Should I Handle Debt Being Collected By Patenaude & Felix?
How you decide to handle debt being collected by Patenaude & Felix will be determined by your particular situation. For instance if the debt in question is for a small amount and you know you are responsible for the debt you may just want to settle your account with the law firm. Often times these debts can be settled for less than the original balance owed. Obtaining a settlement between 25%-50% of the total balance on settlements is not uncommon. Also often times a payment plan can be obtained although the total settlement will probably be higher.
Next if you have other outstanding debts including the Patenaude & Felix debt and your debt load is over $10K then you may want to speak to an attorney regarding filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy will stop a debt collector from collecting on a debt immediately. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate all of your unsecured debt in most cases, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will give you a payment plan over 36-60 months to pay on your debts in which you may or may not have to pay the full amount back depending on your income and family size.
If your goal is simply to buy some time in which to obtain funds to settle or file bankruptcy and you have already been served with a summons and complaint then it is advisable to file an answer to the summons and complaint. The answer must be filed in the court where your law suit is and a copy sent to the law firm as well. The answer outlines all of your defenses and responses to the allegations in the complaint. Filing an answer will help you avoid a default judgment and allow for you to buy time and force the law firm to produce paperwork from the original creditor showing you owe the debt. If you do file an answer, it is likely that Patenaude & Felix at some point in the next couple of months will file a motion for summary judgment stating that they have evidence that you owe the debt and that they should win their case. At this point the law firm would be required to actually produce such evidence. If you don’t have a valid defense to these allegations you will want to settle your case or file bankruptcy to avoid further attorney fee’s and interest being entered against you. If you believe you do have a valid defense and want to risk paying potentially more in attorney fee’s you could litigate the case. That is the high risk high reward option as you may end up getting off the hook of paying the debt as well. You will have the best chance of winning a case if the plaintiff in your case is a third party debt collector such as Cach, LLC, Portfolio Recovery or Midland Funding who probably don’t have the original paperwork on your debt and therefore may not have standing to collect on your debt.
If for some reason you have let a judgment get entered against you and you need to stop a wage garnishment a bankruptcy can always be filed after the fact and any wages taken within 90 days of the bankruptcy filing may be returned to you.
If you live in Washington State and have and you need help negotiating a settlement on a debt being collected upon by Patenaude & Felix, give Symmes Law Group a call at 206-682-7975 to learn about your options. If you would like to learn how to deal with Patenaude & Felix on your own check out my online debt collection response course complete with sample materials and forms.