What you feared might happen, has happened – a court citation regarding your delinquent credit-card debt has reared its ugly head. Allow me to ease a good portion of your anxiety! Hello, you have reached James Foley PLLC. As a seasoned attorney in debt-defense and bankruptcy, I bring a wealth of experience to the table. I represent the residents of Saginaw who share the same dilemma you do, and having a strong legal ally on your side can maximize your chances of the best, possible outcome.
If you have asked yourself: “Where do I go, from here?”, my first suggestion would be to call my office, as quickly as possible, at 817-738-1633. The adage, There's no time like the present, is especially true here, and the reason is simple: in Texas, you could be allowed as few as 14 days from the date of being served before a default judgment would be issued against you. A default judgment is serious – if your case were to reach that point, it would mean the collector would win its case against you, and you would forfeit your one-time chance to defend your case. Then, there is the relinquishing of personal and/or business assets to satisfy the delinquent debt. Those assets could be vehicles, bank accounts, tools, jewelry, business equipment – you get the idea.
As your attorney, I would create the best defense for your case. I would use every applicable consumer-protection law to your advantage, and I would search for any illegal or unethical collection practices that may have been utilized. If any were to be found, it could significantly benefit your case.
Consequences of Unpaid Debt – Lives Can be Turned Inside Out
Whether your debt circumstances are due to divorce, medical expenses, job loss or any other reason, creditors or collectors will show little, if any, mercy. They want your assets to satisfy the debt. Unfortunately, resorting to unethical or illegal tactics to intimidate, misguide, or coerce debtors into making payments is not uncommon. Don't allow yourself to be a victim!
Consequences of unpaid debt can be devastating:
*** severe decline of your credit rating
*** inflated fees and penalties and/or inflated interest rates on balances due
*** continual calls from creditors or collection agencies
*** the serving of a citation
*** a lawsuit filed against you
*** frozen bank/savings accounts and seizure of business/personal properties – assuming a judgment were issued against you.
In some cases, bankruptcy is the best financial solution. Through Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you could keep your property while paying all or part of the debt. With Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you lose little or no property as well as being able to discharge your credit-card liability.
When You Hear a Knock at the Door
Collectors will waste no time with utilizing the court system if previous attempts to satisfy a delinquent debt have failed. The process begins with the filing of a petition. The petition states the debtor's name, the reason for the pending lawsuit, and the total amount owed by the debtor – this could include the plaintiff's attorney fees, court costs and added interest. The date, by which, the debtor must file a formal response would, also, be indicated.
Additionally, a citation would be filed which would indicate that the debtor/defendant is, now, being officially sued and served. The serving of these documents is, usually, performed in person at the debtor's home or place of employment by a uniformed police officer/sheriff or a plain-clothed professional process server. If the defendant is unavailable to accept the papers, the server can present the documents to another adult, and the defendant receives mailed copies.
In the citation, you will find words similar to You are, hereby, required to appear and defend the complaint filedagainst you. The words, “to appear” mean you must file your response with the court called a 'motion' or 'answer'. It must be drawn up in proper, legal format, and I would be able to do this, on your behalf, and present it to the appropriate personnel.
Please note: Even if the server of the documents is not a police officer but is, instead, a civilian-dressed process server who arrives in an unmarked vehicle, that individual has full legal authority to present court documents, and he or she should be taken seriously. Never forget that ignoring documents pertaining to a lawsuit can lead to a default judgment against you.
Also, if a particular debt-buyer were to sue you – even if the debt-buyer were unfamiliar to you – take that debt-buyer seriously, as well. Without appropriate and timely legal action on your part, the debt-buyer would win its suit against you.
Laws are Designed to Protect Debtors
Various US laws help protect the rights of debtors facing debt-collection lawsuits:
1. Statute of Limitations
With the statute of limitations, your debt could qualify as exempt from further litigation, assuming enough time has run its course. However, the time period for the statute of limitations starts on the last date of activity on the account – this is not, necessarily, the same as the date of the first non-payment. Take note: debtors can restart the statute of limitations, without realizing it. Please call me to determine if your debt meets Texas' statute-of-limitations guidelines. You must be able to prove, in court, that your debt qualifies. Any personal records, bank statements, and letters from creditors may support your case. If required proof is lacking, the plaintiff would win and a judgment would be issued against you.
2. Inability to Prove Ownership of the Account
Often, creditors sell delinquent debt to debt-buyers. However, the debt-buyers' information regarding account holders may be insufficient in a court setting. If a debt-buyer cannot prove that the amount you owe is correct or if the debt-buyer cannot prove you owe the debt, you case could be on the winning end.
3. Inability to Authenticate Documents
Debt collection agencies run rampant in the US, and they exist by the thousands. Two collection
agencies – Midland Funding and Portfolio Recovery – are well known. If a debt collector cannot satisfy the legal requirements to validate documents of the original creditor, the defendant is at a legal advantage. Judges are becoming increasingly unwilling to accept lawsuits that have been filed en masse, without being individually reviewed.
Possible Outcomes of Unpaid Credit-card Debt
1. A Non-Suit of the Case
A non-suit of the case occurs when the plaintiff volunteers to waive their case against the defendant. A non-suit of the case can occur when certain errors in the plaintiff's case are uncovered by an experienced debt-defense attorney. A non-suit is not a ruling on the merits of the case, but the existing lawsuit would be over. However, even with a non-suit, the plaintiff isn't necessarily out of the woods since the plaintiff can refile the lawsuit against the defendant, at another time.
2. A Ruling in Your Favor
A ruling in your favor would be your ultimate victory! The plaintiff loses its case and would be forced to stop all legal action against you. At this point, you would want the unauthorized debt removed from your credit reports as quickly as possible; and I would be happy to do this for you.
3. A Ruling in Favor of the Credit Card Company
A ruling in favor of the credit card company means a judgment would be issued against the defendant. The plaintiff would receive everything asked for in the lawsuit, and the defendant would be responsible to pay the stated debt amount. Additionally, the defendant may have to pay all court-related costs and attorney's fees the plaintiff accumulated. The worst part of this scenario is the defendant's asset loss and emotional upheaval: property liens, bank-account levies, property seizures and more could be imposed to satisfy the unpaid debt.
4. An Agreed Settlement
Through an agreed settlement, the defendant can bypass the stress of going to court. The plaintiff and the defendant would reach a mutual agreement in the form of a reduced lump-sum payment or revised payment plan. Most creditors prefer 'slow money' instead of 'no money'. When you settle a debt, however, it can negatively impact your credit report for seven years.
This is Not a Time to Fight, Alone!
When strong legal defense is on your side, the anxiety and very real possibility of losing your case can be replaced with greater peace-of-mind and maximizing the chances for the best, possible outcome – let's do this together!
Creditors have powerful lawyers on their side to fight for their rights – shouldn't you?
Call the office of James Foley PLLC, today, for a complimentary case-evaluation in any of these areas:
*** Debt-buyer suits
*** Original-creditor suits
*** Vehicle repossession and Loan-deficiency suits
James Foley PLLC
~Debt-Collection Defense & Bankruptcy Attorney~