Did you know that debt collectors have sued about 15% of Americans? The 2017 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that only 26% of defendants attended their hearing. This means that over 70% didn’t fight the suit and received default judgments. Are you being sued for credit card debt? Do you know what choices you have? It’s important to understand that you have rights when a debt collector pursues you. Keep reading to learn about your legal options.
Reasons You Can Be Sued for Credit Card Debt
If you fail to pay your credit card debt, the company has the right to sue to collect their money. Often, they send you case to another company to collect the debt. The process begins with the creditor filing a complaint with your state’s civil court.
They will list you and any other co-signers as defendants in the case. The suit often requests the total amount owed plus interest and attorney and court fees.
You will receive a notice that you’re being sued for non-payment and the date of your court hearing. If you fail to attend that hearing, the creditor will win. They have the right to reclaim their money for your credit card debt in several ways.
The company may garnish your wages which means they take part of each paycheck. They may try to freeze part or all the money you have in your bank account.
Another option is to place a lien against your property. A lien means they have a legal claim or right against your property including homes and cars. The creditor then may sell the property to collect their money.
Consumer Protection Acts
The legislators passed consumer protection acts to limit debt collection harassment. If you’ve received unfair treatment from creditors, you may legally fight for damages. The following explains the federal and California acts.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA, amended in 2010, is a federal law That governs the debt collection process. It prevents companies from being abusive, deceptive, or using other unfair measures.
This act applies to the collection of different debt types including credit card debt. It doesn’t apply to business debts.
The act also restricts how debt collectors may communicate with you. For example, they can’t make contact before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Also, they can’t approach you at work or other inconvenient places.
Debt collectors can’t harass you or anyone else via phone or other methods. After you hire an attorney to represent you, all direct contact from the collector must stop.
Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA)
The RFDCPA protects California residents. They’re also covered by the FDCPA. This act only applies to individuals and doesn’t protect businesses.
Under this law, debt collectors can’t use unlawful or threatening methods for collections. Neither may they misrepresent themselves as another entity. All collection agencies are bound by the judicial process.
How to Respond to a Credit Card Lawsuit
Most importantly, don’t ignore a court summons. Speak with a lawyer to help guide your response. They understand the fine points of the law and details that can help you gain the best outcome.
Respond to the summons within the designated time frame via certified mail. You may answer the complaint with one of the following responses:
- Partially agree
- Lack of knowledge to fully answer
Make sure you consult with your lawyer to make the best response. If you disagree with the allegation, include a statement explaining your rationale. Make sure you keep a copy of all letters and documents pertaining to your case.
It’s up to the creditor to prove that you owe the debt. When it comes time for the hearing, they may not have this proof. If you don’t show up for the hearing, the creditor wins by default.
When you receive a letter that a credit card company has filed a suit, don’t call the company. If you have questions about the situation, contact a lawyer or the court clerk. The company may not always give you’re the correct and legal answers you need.
Credit Card Lawsuit Defense Strategies
It’s important to participate in the legal process to have a chance of a decision in your favor. Obtaining representation by an experienced attorney will prove invaluable in this process. The following describes key points to defend the non-payment of credit card debt.
Are All Required Documents Filed?
In some cases, the creditor may not have the documentation needed to prove you owe the debt. For example, some states require a copy of the original credit card agreement you signed. If the creditor doesn’t have this, you may request a dismissal if they can’t provide it by the deadline.
If there’s an affidavit attached to the complaint, is it valid? Did the person who signed it work for the original creditor? If you find that it’s signed by a junk debt collection agency, you can request it be disallowed as hearsay.
Also, check the copyright date on the credit card agreement. In some instances, the date may be after the date you incurred the debt. At this point, you may make a motion to strike which makes proving your debt more difficult.
Has the Statute of Limitations Expired?
Many states have a statute of limitations for filing debt suits. In California, the creditor has 4 years to file a credit card debt suit. Make sure you know what your state’s statute of limitations is.
Do You Need Legal Representation?
If you’re being sued for credit card debt, you now have information about how to respond. Los Angeles Legal Solutions is ready to provide legal services for Los Angeles and Southern California.
If you have credit card debt, we’re ready to help you. Our team provides defense, settlement negotiation, and consumer protection against harassment.
We’re also experts in immigration law, criminal defense, personal injury, and employment law. We work with cases involving entertainment law, vehicle warranties, and Lemon Law cases as well. Contact us now to discuss your case.