Tag Archive | debt collector

Statute of Limitations for Credit Cards

What is the Statute of Limitations for Credit Cards in Pennsylvania?  We get calls asking this question every day.  In most instances, the statute of limitations on a collection claim in PA is 4 years.  There are a few exceptions, namely for Discover and Capital One accounts, which may be only 3 years.  Discover and Capital One may have different (and lesser) statutes of limitation due to the contract that they include with their accounts.  Not every contract has the same language, but some of them do.

When does the Statute of Limitations start?  The SOL starts when the account or claim goes into default.  Default occurs when you fail to make a payment, in most instances.  As an example, you make a payment December 31, 2009.  The next payment presumably is due on January 30, 2010.  If you fail to make that payment, then the statute clock starts to click.  If there is a four year SOL at work here, then the claim against you would have to be filed by January 30, 2014.  If the claim is filed after that date, then the claim may be “time-barred”.  Time barred simply means that a claim is too late, it does not mean that the collector cannot sue you.  What I mean is that time barred lawsuits are filed every day.  You cannot simply call up the collector and say “this is too late, drop it”.  That phone call is rarely going to work.  Instead, you are going to have to assert your defenses to the lawsuit by filing a responsive pleading.  Then, you may have to go to a hearing or have a motion for summary judgment scheduled.  The point being made here is that many people believe that if the lawsuit is too late, they can either ignore it or they can simply call the court or opposing attorney and ask them to withdraw the case.  I can say that rarely is an effective maneuver.

If a credit card collection action is filed against you and you think that the SOL has run, you should consult with a consumer attorney right away.  The action of filing a claim after the SOL has run is illegal and is contrary to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  This can result in you filing a claim against the debt collector who sued you.  Such a lawsuit would entitle you to up to $1000 in statutory damages, plus any actual damages, plus recovery of reasonable attorney fees.

Posted in Lawsuits

What can a collector do to me?

This is the number one question at my law office right now, everyone wants to know what the creditor can do to them.  I usually do not answer this question until I ask several of my own questions first.  Who is pursuing you?  That is the most important quesiton that I ask in every case.  If the answer is ” a collection agency” or “A debt buyer”, then I do not ever answer the client’s initial quesiton of “what can they do to me” because it will never matter.  If you are being sued by a debt buyer, then you MUST hire a consumer attorney, whether its my firm or another firm, because you are very likely to prevail in court and then it will never matter “what they can do to you”, as they will not be able to do anything after we beat them.

Now having said that, not every case that my office handles is a winner.  There are times when an original creditor will beat us and the question “what can they do to me” has merit.  The first thing is that if you do not file an appeal, their judgment can become final in the Court of Common Pleas.  That judgment will accrue interest at the rate of 6% essentially forever.  After judgment, they can attempt to garnish a bank account, if they know where you bank, and if the account is not a spousal account (spousal joint accounts cannot be garnished by a collector unless the judgment is against both husband and wife… this protection applies to ALL spousal assets).  The collector can also try to place a levy on your personal property (to expose it to public sale) but this route is taken in less than 20% of all judgment cases, in my opinion.

The collector CANNOT garnish wages in PA for this type of debt.  That being said, they can garnish a bank account that has wages in it.  Once a wage is deposited into a bank account, it is no longer a wage.

The collector can also send out what are called “Discovery requests” in the form of interrogatories.  These are questions asking you to list all of your assets.  Unfortunately, you must answer these questions or you can be subject to sanctions from the court.  Once the creditor learns of any assets after using these forms, they can try to execute on these assets using a Sheriff and a Writ of Execution.

This is pretty much the gamut of what we see being done by collectors.  If you are facing a credit card or other collection lawsuit, please contact my office for a free consultation.

 

Posted in Other

FCRA – Fair Credit Reporting Act

Our client, Lady Z, received a demand letter from a junk debt buyer.  Lady Z contacted us immediately and we sent out a Validation letter.  A Validation letter is a request to the debt collector to authenticate the debt that they allege is due and owing.  The debt collecter in Lady Z’s case did not respond to our request.  By law, they have 30 days to respond to our Validation request.  If they fail to do so, they may make any further attempts to collect on the debt, and, they must mark the client’s credit record as “disputed”. 

In this matter, the debt collector failed to do anything that it was required to do by law.  After about 45 days, Lady Z reviewed her credit report and discovered that the debt collector was still reporting this debt as valid, with no dispute listed.  We immediately filed a lawsuit against the debt collector in state court. Within a matter of about 3 weeks, debt collector’s attorney contacted us and acknowledged the error.  He was willing to eliminate the underlying debt, remove the adverse credit reporting, pay $1000 in statutory damages and pay our attorney fees.

Posted in 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.