If you receive a debt collection letter in Tennessee from an attorney's office, it most likely means that you have already missed some payments on a debt that you owe. Usually, letters from debt collection attorneys specify the size and nature of the debt, along with encouragement for repayment. Depending on your financial situation, you can respond to the letter in a number of ways.
Pay Your Debt
By the time you receive a debt collection letter from an attorney, you are usually pretty close to getting sued. If you don't pay your debt and you get sued, the court will typically issue a judgment against you, requiring you to pay your debt. At that point, your creditor can garnish your wages or possibly seize your property in order to satisfy the debt obligation. You can avoid all of this by simply paying what you owe. Once you pay your debt, you will be able to put all the collection letters and phone calls behind you.
Call the Attorney
If you can't afford to simply pay off your debt, you can call the attorney that sent you the letter to discuss your debt. It is entirely possible that your creditor will be willing to negotiate your debt, especially if it appears that you cannot pay. If the attorney does not want to negotiate at first, you can always call back in a few weeks or months and try again. The longer you don't make any payments, the more likely the attorney may be to negotiate.
Sometimes, your best course of action may be to write the attorney back. By writing back, you can demonstrate good faith that you are trying to work out a resolution to your debt situation. This may possible delay any legal action against you. You may also get an offer of a settlement back from the attorney, in which you may be able to pay less than you owe. Be cautious with any correspondence that you send back to the attorney, as anything you put in writing will no doubt be part of your legal file regarding the debt.
If you can't afford even a negotiated settlement regarding your debt, you can always file bankruptcy after you receive a collection letter. When you file bankruptcy, the attorney can no longer legally contact you until after your case. If you earn a bankruptcy discharge, the attorney cannot contact you after the case either, and you will no longer be responsible to pay any amount of the debt. However, filing bankruptcy will mar your credit report for up to 10 years.