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Tag Archive | pennsylvania

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

Strike a Deal?

An individual sent me an email today asking whether they should still respond to a lawsuit filed by a collection agency.  The individual explained that they had reached an agreement with the collection agency on a payment plan.

My first response was to  tell the individual that they had made a huge mistake in agreeing to pay the collection agency anything.  Typically, as you will see from any of myother posts, a collection agency has a difficult time in proving a  case against you in a court of law in Pennsylvania. 

My second response was that if they are going to continue on with the proposed settlement, making their mistake even larger, then they should absolutely file a written response to the lawsuit.  An agreement with a collection agency is pretty meaningless unless you have it spelled out specifically inwriting.  I would never trust an oral agreement with a collection agency, ever.  If you fail to file your response to the lawsuit, the agency most likely will simply enter a default judgment against you for the full amount of the alleged debt, often with an inclusion of their attorney fees.  If you do “strike a deal” with a collection agency, (which again is a huge mistake) then at least get it in writing.

Posted in Collection Agencies, Lawsuits

Do I need an Attorney?

I am very surprised by the number of people who don’t consult with a consumer attorney on a credit card case.  As soon as you receive a collection letter or phone call, you should speak to a consumer attorney right away.  Most of us, my office specifically, will give a free telephone consultation about the collection process and to discuss your defenses and rights. 

I have found that many of you instead call the collection agency to try to work out a payment plan.  What a huge mistake!  That is exactly what they want you to do, its part of what they base their business model on! The truth of the matter is that most collection agencies have difficulty in proving a case against you in a court of law.  That’s why they call you and use high pressure tactics to get you to pay.  Once you make a payment, or even agree to one, you may have severely damaged your case.

A frequent question that I face is whether the individual can handle the matter themselves.  I almost never think that this is a good idea.  They ask, what can I do that they can’t?  Think about it, I do this every day, with tremendous success.  I usually know exactly what language is in your lawsuit without even seeing it just by learning the name of the collection agency.  I know which attorneys they hire, how those attorneys operate, which documents they have, their usual success rate and so on.  Are you willing to risk a $9000 judgment against you just to save a few dollars in attorney fees?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Look, I try to be as blunt as I can with clients, they really do appreciate it.  I’ll tell you if I can help you and I’ll also tell you if it’s in your interests to go another direction.  (I often do this with the smaller cases, where it doesn’t make sense to hire me to defend a $750 lawsuit).

The key is to not make a mistake by calling the agency or by filing your own response to the credit card lawsuit.  That’s my job, to handle that aspect of it and to give you a good result at the end.

If you have any questions about a collection agency or credit card lawsuit in Pennsylvania, call my office at 412-823-8003 for a free, no obligation consultation.

Posted in Lawsuits

What are my chances?

If you hire the right Attorney, your chances are excellent. An experienced attorney can often handle these types of cases in a very efficient manner, with little involvement by the client. The reason is that there are so many issues that the collection agency has to prove to prevail in a court of law, and they often have difficulty doing so.

They have to prove a number of issues in a lawsuit to collect a debt. I often tell my clients that the Collection Agency has to prove A to Z, and in fact, they have to place all of that information in the actual lawsuit.  In my experience with these cases, I have found that the agency has great difficulty in proving many of the issues that they are required to prove.

First and foremost is that they have to prove that they have the right to sue you. Did the original creditor actually sell your account to them? Prove it to me. Often times, they can’t do it. They have to prove that they acquired the right to pursue the account that you allegedly defaulted on or the lawsuit gets thrown out, right there. 

Next, they have to prove that it was your account, and that you agreed to the terms and conditions that they allege are applicable to your account. This is a big one. Further, they have to prove that you made use of the credit account, they have to prove the interest rate, they have to prove the late fees, they have to prove that the lawsuit was filed within the proper Statute of Limitations, and so on. I have found that they have a great difficulty in proving these things if you present the proper defenses in the response to the lawsuit.

Contact our office at 412-823-8003 or toll free at 1-888-536-6644 for a free telephone consultation if you are being sued by a Collection Agency in Pennsylvania.

Posted in Collection Agencies

Is PA Wage Garnishment allowed?

Only under very limited circumstances does Pennsylvania law permit the garnishment of wages. Garnishment of wages is a seizure of wages while they are still in the control of the employer, which have not yet been paid out to the employee. An employee’s wages, salaries and commissions may be taken from an employer through appropriate legal procedures to satisfy generally five kinds of debts:

  • judgments for child or spousal support
  • PHEAA student loans
  • room and board for four weeks or less
  • back rent on a residential lease
  • obligations relating to final divorce distribution

In PA, generally, your wages cannot be garnished for any other purpose. Garnishment of wages can only be accomplished only by a court order directed to the employer and no such court order can be issued without fair notice to the debtor/wage earner. That means, in most cases, that a lawsuit has to be filed, and a judgment against you has to be issued.  Other than the kinds of debt listed above, no other debt or legal obligation can give rise to wage attachment in Pennsylvania. Federal laws such as IRS garnishment procedures may be used to garnish wages of Pennsylvania residents, but only through the federal court system.

Posted in Garnishment

What does Garnishment mean?

Garnishment is the act of directing a business that is holding funds (such as a bank) or who is about to pay wages (such as an employer) to an individual who allegedly owes money to someone else to place a freeze on that money and distribute it to a creditor. Garnishing funds is also a warning to the party who is holding the funds (the Garnishee) not to pay them, and to inform the Court as to how much money is being held. If the garnishee (such as a bank or employer) should mistakenly give the money to the individual who is the account owner or employee, the Garnishee will be liable to pay the creditor what it had coming, up to the amount of the funds that were held by the Garnishee.

There are two types of garnishments that arise more frequently than others… bank account garnishments and wage garnishments.  Let’s start with the easy one… wage garnishments.  In Pennsylvania, wage garnishment cannot occur except under very limited circumstances, usually related to student loans, taxes, or spousal/child support.  A creditor cannot garnish wages in PA.

The more difficult one, bank account garnishments.  A creditor can garnish a bank account IF it obtains a judgment against you in a court of law. They have to beat you first before they can garnish.  A spousal bank account cannot be garnished unless the creditor obtains a judgment against both husband and wife ( very rare in credit card cases).  Any other joint bank account (parent/child, friend/friend, sibling) can be garnished IF the creditor first obtains a judgment.

Please contact our office at 412-823-8003 or 1-888-536-6644 for any questions regarding garnishments.

Posted in Garnishment

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.