The Law Office of Michael P. Forbes, PCBy
As with every other aspect of civility, in the bizarre world of credit cards, both the credit card companies, their illegitimate offspring, the debt buyer and their "hitmen", the debt collection lawyers very rarely abide by the Rules of Civil Procedure, which is the law that must be complied with when bringing a lawsuit.
When the actual credit card company sues a consumer, such as yourself, they always have an attorney. However, they count on you to either not hire a credit card lawyer or to represent yourself-both recipes for a win---FOR THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY! In how many situations in your life, would you willingly provide someone who's trying to hurt you with the ammunition needed to bury you? Despite this illogic, most people do this and find that they end up with a frozen bank account or a lien against their home.
In most cases, the credit card attorneys do not have the proper documentation to prove their case. This is hard to believe, but considering the hundreds of millions of credit cards which have been given out like candy, credit card company record keeping is woefully understaffed and lacking in technology efficient enough to keep up with the volume of business they generate.
So, when the credit card company begins its lawsuit, they almost always fail to include any document even coming close to resembling a contract or any agreement between you and them. In fact, when pressed, the credit card company often generates a generic agreement which is dated years after your credit card was obtained with no signatures or other identifying information showing that this agreement has anything to do with you. This is akin to me lending a friend money, having him sign a note that he will pay me including the terms of payment, and then suing him, and telling the Judge that I can't find the signed note, but that I made up a similar, unsigned note from memory. Sound unfair? Sound inaccurate? Sound consistent with other unfair credit card tactics?
The credit card company will then try to present invoices to show that you used their account. However, they rarely produce enough invoices to prove a contract. Their problem is that they get trapped into their own greed. Most credit card companies use variable interest rates, meaning different interest rates, for every billing cycle. This means that every bill you receive, mostly on a monthly basis, has a different interest rate. Because of this, when challenged, the credit card company can rarely prove that the amount they are now claiming is accurate, because they do not have enough documentation to prove this fact to the Judge. Imagine being sued for breach of contract by your local contractor. In order for the contractor to prevail, all invoices showing itemized services and credit for past payments must be shown, in order to prove the accuracy of the total amount claimed. This applies to the credit card companies, too. It is basic contract law.
The rules get bent even further, when the debt is sold to a debt buying company, also knows as a junk debt buyer. These "friendly" folks NEVER play by the rules. This is partly due to the fact that they rarely have enough documents to prove their case and their lawyers always rely on the fact that you will not hire a lawyer to defend the case. First, they often sue you after the statute of limitations has run. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for contracts is four years from the default date. This means that they have four years to sue and if they don't sue you in that time period, the case should be dismissed.
Secondly, they never have the original contract between the parties. Since they are usually buying your debt for 3 to 5 cents on the dollar, they are given limited documentation to prove their case. They simply rely on public ignorance and apathy to win their cases. Thirdly, and astoundingly, they can't even produce the proper documents showing that they own your debt. Imagine in my first example where I sue my neighbor for lending him money. However, instead of me suing him, a friend of mine sues him for the debt he owes me. That friend goes to court and claims he owns loan and therefore has the right to sue my neighbor. However, my friend has no documentation showing that I gave him the right to sue my neighbor. This is what the junk debt buyers mostly do. The difference is that my neighbor would likely show up to defend the lawsuit against him. With the debt buyers, most of people do nothing and end up losing a lawsuit they should have won.
These are but a few examples of the untoward and, often unethical means of debt collection which I see in the many debt collection lawsuits which I have defended. Please don't fall prey to these tactics. Fight back! Protect your property and your dignity and don't let these predators get away with these tactics! If you are being sued or victimized by these debt collection bullies, call me for a free consultation.