Know your rights: You can keep your car, even if you are sued

I owe money to a credit card company. I have been paying all I can afford, but a debt collector says he wants more. He told me if I didn't substantially increase my payments, he would sue, and I would lose my car and my job. What can I do to stop this?

You do not have to do anything to stop this; the Texas Legislature has already done it for you. Under Texas law, even if you are sued, certain property is "exempt" and protected from your creditors. Among the property protected is your car.

The only creditors who may take you car if you don't pay are those to whom you expressly gave that right, for example, the lender that financed the car.

I also should point out that the debt collector's threats violate state and federal debt collection law.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston.