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FDCPA – Instant Success Story

Bob and Mary (fictitiuous names, of course) had a delinquent account with a major credit card company. The credit card company hired a collection agency to assist in collection of the debt.  The collection agency placed a few calls to Bob and Mary, who chose not to speak with them. Undeterred, the collection agency called Bob and Mary’s neighbor and asked them to hand deliver a note to Bob and Mary.  The collector asked the neighbors to write down the  following message : ” This is Joe from XYZ colleciton agency.  I am troubled to hear that you do not want to take my calls. We really need to settle this debt so call me back right away”.  The neighbor handed the note to Bob and Mary, who fortunately called our office right away.

It is illegal for any debt collector to contact a friend, neighbor, family member or anyone at your place of employment to discuss your debt with them. (They may contact one of these third parties only to locate you, if they have made reasonable efforts at finding you that were not successful). The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets forth many rights that consumer or debtors have in regards to delinquent accounts and collection activities that take place as a result thereof.

My partner, Clay Morrow, contacted the collection agency right away and advised them of our representation of Bob and Mary. Clay advised that the activities were illegal and that we would be bringing a claim against them.  The collection agency knew that their actions were illegal so there wasn’t much of a fight. They do these things because they know that 1) these tactics are often successful and 2) that most people will not bother to consult an attorney.

Within a matter of 10 days, Clay was able to obtain the full amount of the statutory damages ($1000) plus attorney fees for Bob and Mary.  Clay was also able to settle the underlying debt with the original credit card company for a small fraction of the actual debt.  Great job Clay!

Posted in CC Companies, Collection Agencies, Illegal Threats

The Worst Credit Card Lawsuit Defenses Ever

I have encountered many people who have tried to defend credit card cases themselves in the past few months and am very surprised at some of the defenses that they think will work. The following are a few of the worst defenses that I have seen, and an explanation as to why they are such bad defenses.

I’ve never had an account with you.

This means absolutely nothing in a court of law. The right to sue someone is a legal interest. A legal interest can be sold, at any time, at any price, to anyone.  While it may be true that you did not have an account with the collection agency, that doesn’t mean that they cannot sue you on a delinquent account. (Whether they can prove that they bought the account is another story and is the basis for much of our success in defending collection agency lawsuits).

I tried to pay, but they wouldn’t work with me.

This may be the worst defense ever.   “I tried to pay…”  this is called an admission. Who pays on something that they do not owe?  No one.  The admission here is that you did have an account with someone and that you are in default on that account.  In a nutshell, it means that you lose your lawsuit. To be clear, once you are in default the creditor or collection agency does not have to accept any payment other than payment in full.  You do not get to set the terms of repayment.  Its not up to you to decide how much you can or are willing to pay. In addition, a court typically does not determine payment arrangements. Instead, a court determines if you owe anything and then how much. Repayment afterwards is up to the parties to handle.

My divorce decree says that I don’t have to pay.

This is mixing apples and doritos. A divorce decree or order is issued by a family court. While it has a binding effect between the spouses (ex spouse’s I should say) it does not bind other parties. The credit card company (or collection agency) is not bound by this divorce decree or order because its case is in civil court, which is different. The credit card company can sue the named cardholder only, not anyone else, and the divorce decree will not prevent that. What may happen is that the credit card company sues the cardholder and wins its case. The cardholder could then go to family court and have the other person found in contempt for not handling the account.

I hired a debt settlement company.

Perhaps the second worst defense, and, the absolute worst move that you could make, period. (This author firmly believes that debt settlement companies are useless and clearly not worth the outrageous fees that you pay them). As stated above, a credit card company or collection agency does not have to accept any payment other than payment in full, once you are in default. Debt settlement companies cannot stop lawsuits from occurring and are not equipped to help you respond to a credit card lawsuit. DO NOT TAKE LEGAL ADVICE FROM A DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANY.  Again, don’t hire them to begin with and you won’t have to worry about heeding their legal advice.

Posted in CC Companies, Lawsuits

Debt Negotiation in Pennsylvania

I get  many inquiries from potential clients who want me to assist them with debt negotiation.  I will only negotiate a debt under very limited circumstances. 

The first circumstance where I will negotiate a debt is when the Plaintiff (the company that is suing you) is an original creditor.  An original creditor is the finance company that you established your credit account with.  Capital One files alot of their own lawsuits in Pennsylvania, so most times  I am open to negotiation for a client on a Capital One case. 

Negotiation really works best when you have a lump sum of money to offer as a settlement.  For instance, if you owe an alleged $10,000 debt, if you can offer $5000 or $6000 as a lump sum, then you have a shot at obtaining a settlement.  On the other hand, if you can only afford to pay $100 per month, a negotiation is not going to get much of a reduction for you, if any.

I also would consider negotiating with a collection agency on a very small case, perhaps under $1,000.  While my steadfast rule is to never negotiate with collection agencies, there is a reason that I would negotiate on this small amount.  Quite frankly, its more cost effective for the client to pay me an hour’s worth of fees to negotiate a settlement on a small case rather than to hire me to defend it in court for several hours of time.  

On larger claims, let’s say $1000 and up, I would almost never negotiate with a collection agency in Pennsylvania.  Hire me to defend the lawsuit, or, hire another attorney if that’s your choosing, but it would be money well spent.  A knowledgeable consumer attorney can defeat a collecton agency about 85% of the time, perhaps better, so you really should take your chances in court.

If you have any questions about debt negotiation, credit card accounts, collection agencies, or any other consumer matter, please contact my office at 412-823-8003 or 1-888-536-6644 for a free,  no obligation consultation.

Posted in CC Companies, Collection Agencies, Lawsuits

Welcome to the PA Credit Card Law website.

Thanks for visiting the site.  We will have information here regarding the Credit Card laws of Pennsylvania.  Topics to be addressed will be Collection Agencies, Junk Debt Buyers, Garnishments, Credit Card Companies, Original Creditors, FDCPA, Illegal Threats and more.

Posted in CC Companies


Credit Card Lawsuits

If you are faced with a credit card lawsuit, whether its an original creditor or a junk debt buyer, contact my office at 412-823-8003 right away. We offer a free, no obligation review of any credit card based lawsuit that is filed in PA.

FDCPA Attorneys

Many Debt Collectors threaten people, that's a fact. Threats of wage garnishment, jail, fraud charges and contacting employers, friends and relatives happens every day to people just like you. The truth is that most of these threats are illegal. If a debt collector is threatening you, contact our office at 412-823-8003 for a free initial consultation.
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