Law Office of William J. Mertens
A litigation practice
Helping clients who are sued or need to sue

Credit Card Debt Cases

If you are sued - served with a complaint - to collect alleged credit card debt, the WORST thing to do is to do NOTHING. Yet that is what many people do.  The result can be a default judgment against you for the full amount of the claim.  What follows can be garnishment of your wages and seizure of your property,

The best thing to do is IMMEDIATELY get a qualified attorney to represent you. If you qualify, pro bono help may be available at no cost to you (see below).  If not, I ask you to consider contacting me.  I will provide a free initial consultation by phone.  You may use my contact formI am a litigation attorney with decades of experience who represents people, for reasonable fees, who are being sued for credit card debt. I have experience and training in handling these cases and know the weaknesses to exploit for a successful defense.

Use my contact form, email me at wjmertens@mertenslaw.com, or call me on 240-223-2466, extension 1, and leave a message on my consumer law line.  Be sure to leave contact information (phone, email address, etc.).  I will discuss your case by phone with you, at no charge to you.  We then can go over the additional help that I may be able to provide.

It sometimes it even is possible to turn the tables on abusive collections companies with lawsuits against them for money damages under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or other laws.

People do sometimes try to defend themselves. Sometimes they succeed, and good for them when they do.  But there are too many instances when people have tried to defend themselves but have been caught up in confusing court rules or have lacked the background and information to know the defenses that work.  The result can be a disaster. It happens.

Suits for credit card debt can be abusive and even fraudulent.  Just because some company claims you owe it for unpaid credit card balance doesn’t make it so and doesn’t mean they can prove it. Some of the worst abuses have occurred in purchased credit card debt lawsuits – debt-buyer cases.  When banks decide they cannot collect an unpaid balance, they often sell the account to one of many companies that specialize in buying these accounts.  Typically, these companies buy huge numbers of accounts in bulk, often paying just pennies on the dollar. In return, they may receive only a computer-generated list of hundreds or thousands of accounts, with just the identity of the alleged card-holder and the alleged balance.  These companies then demand payment from the alleged card-holders and eventually may sue them in court.

Companies also sometimes fraudulently claim to own unpaid credit card accounts when they do not.  For example, this news account relates the story of an outfit that bilked unsuspecting consumers of millions of dollars by demanding payment on credit card accounts that the fraudsters did not own.  One ended up sentenced to prison for 12 years.  Restitution of $3.5 million was ordered.

Experience has shown that many credit card lawsuits are bogus in other ways, too.  The wrong people have been sued. Bank records sometimes are so inaccurate and inconsistent that no one should trust them. The records of the companies that purchase credit card accounts can be equally poor.  Companies have sued on debts that were already paid; on claims that are barred by the statute of limitations; and on claims that were already discharged in bankruptcy.  And so on and so on and so on.  Yet those companies count on the fact that many people will not defend themselves at all, or will try to defend themselves but will not know how to make an effective defense. They may not know the well documented problems with these kinds of suits.  As a result, companies purchasing credit card accounts have reaped enormous profits.

These problems have been well documented. For example:

Editorial, “Banks Play Fast and Loose With Credit Card Debt,” USA Today, April 5, 2012

Gary Rivlin, “America’s Abusive Debt Collectors,”
January 1, 2012

Maria Aspan, “Borrower Beware: B of A Customer Repaid Her Bill Yet Faced a Collections Nightmare,”
American Banker, March 29, 2012

Peter A. Holland, “The One Hundred Billion Dollar Problem in Small Claims Court: Robo-Signing and Lack of Proof in Debt Buyer Cases”


OTHER HELP

Here are additional resources that may help including providing pro bono assistance for those who qualify:

Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
Consumer Protection Project


LawHelp.org/DC


Above all else, remember that when you are sued, you need to ACT, and act promptly.

Some necessary fine print:  Nothing on the website constitutes the giving of legal advice, and consulting this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  However, I will treat all inquiries in confidence.
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