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Archive | November, 2009

Illegal Debt Collection Threats

You had better pay this debt you deadbeat! We’re gonna garnish your wages… We’ll press fraud charges against you for failing to pay this debt!

These are some of the more common threats that we see in the credit card cases lawsuits that we defend.  ALL of these threats are illegal. There is a federal law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short) that makes these sorts of threats illegal. The FDCPA sets forth that these threats, and others just like them, are against the law AND it also gives you the right to sue the debt collector! Each threat or violation is a possible $1000 fine that you can recover from the collection agency AND you also can obtain your reasonable attorney fees in prosecuting the claim.

In that regard, our firm does not charge an up-front retainer when we take on FDCPA violation cases. We simply handle the case, we have the collection agency pay your claim, and we have them pay our fees as well. 

If a collection agency or debt collector makes any sort of threat to you that sounds illegal, or just plain wrong, then it probably is.  Contact our office for a free, no obligation review of your potential case.

Posted in Collection Agencies, Illegal Threats, Lawsuits

Yet Another Victory!

Today was a very good day for our firm.  We were representing an elderly fellow in court in Pittsburgh today.  FIA card services had filed a lawsuit against him on an alleged credit card account with an alleged $18,000 balance.  At the Arbitration hearing, FIA did not have any documentation, evidence, or witnesses, and thus, was unable to  prove its case against my client.  FIA quickly filed an appeal and a bench trial was scheduled before the judge. 

I made several calls to the opposing attorney in an attempt to obtain the documents that they had.  My phone calls were left unreturned.  At trial this morning, FIA had some apparent documentation, which it had never shared with me, but little else.  They failed to provide a witness to authenticate the documents, and because they were not provided to me beforehand, the documents were inadmissable.  Before the hearing even began, I presented a Motion to Dismiss, which was promptly entered by the judge.  The scoreboard today, my client 1, FIA Card Services 0.

Posted in Lawsuits

Pittsburgh Credit Card Lawsuits

As the second largest city in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh receives hundreds of Credit Card and Collection Agency lawsuits each week.  Because of the high volume of cases, there have been several court rulings regarding these cases, to keep an even flow and to prevent them from clogging the Pittsburgh court system.

The most important rule is the 120 rule issued by Judge Wettick.  This rule applies to credit card or collection agency cases that are defective.  (As per my other posts, almost all of these lawsuits are defective initially).  Judge Wettick’s ruling is essentially that the credit card companies and collection agencies have 120 days to correct the defects inherent within their lawsuits.  If they are unable to correct the defects, the case is dismissed (which means thrown out of court). 

If they make a minor correction, that cures a few defects, but not all of them, then objections can be filed a second time.  If this occurs, then Judge Wettick gives the collection agency or credit card company an additional 30 days to make corrections.  Typically, Judge Wettick does not afford further opportunity to these companies. 

The ruling has obvious benefits to the court system.  The collection attorneys know what they need to have to proceed with a case, and the consumer attorneys such as myself who are defending against these lawsuits know exactly how the court will rule on a given case.

Posted in Other

Apothaker and Associates

Have you been sued by Attorney Apothaker and Associates?  Join the club.  I deal with Attorney Apothaker’s lawsuits on a daily basis, whether its filing a response or simply reviewing the lawsuit to give a potential client some advice.   The Attorneys at Apothaker’s office are well versed in the law, they know what they are doing, they are serious collection attorneys, no doubt about that. For the most part though, the lawsuits filed by this office are defective (when they are representing junk debt buyers).  The lawsuits are simple, cookie cutter forms that often lack the proper information that is required by a Pennsylvania court to move forward.  Our typical response to these lawsuits is to file what are called “Preliminary Objections” which are, in a nutshell, an objection to the numerous legal defects contained in the lawsuit.

Without fail, the courts will agree with us as to our allegation of defects in these lawsuits.  The courts generally will give Attorney Apothaker’s office the opportunity to “cure” the defects in the lawsuit, but in my experience, his office generally has difficulty in curing the problems.  To be fair once again, it is not necessarily his office that has the problem, its the clients that he often represents.  These collection agencies, or junk debt buyers, simply do not have enough information to prevail against you in a court of law in most cases.

There are certain documents that are necessary to prevail in a credit card lawsuit, including the terms and conditions, the monthly statements, the contracts, and the assignments.  These debt buyers often have a very difficult time in obtaining all of the proper documents for these cases.

If you have been sued by Apothaker and Associates, you need to have a knowledgeable consumer attorney review the lawsuit, whether its my office or another consumer attorney.  Again, these lawsuits are generally defective, and there is a very strong possibility that they can be thrown out of court without you having to pay anything other than a small attorney fee.

Posted in Collection Agencies, Lawsuits

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.