Most of us have had hard times in our life when we have had to use our credit cards more than we would like to. You lose your job, you go through a divorce, business slows down, or you suffer an injury. These common life events can force someone to use his or her credit cards more than they would like to. If you never recover from those events, you can be left with insurmountable credit card debt you eventually default on. The next thing you know you are receiving letters from the credit card company or a debt collector threatening to sue if you don’t pay the delinquent balance. At the same time, the original debt keeps growing as the interest keeps accumulating. The majority of people ignore these letters because they don’t have the means to pay the amounts claimed due and the debt continues to grow. Eventually, the credit card company and/or the debt collector commences suit against you to recover amounts far greater than originally debt.
Creditors and debt collectors expect the debtor to not challenge the debt. They want the debtor to not put up a fight. Most credit card collection cases and/or debt collection cases are won because the debtor simply concedes. Unaware of his or her rights, the debtor choses to not challenge the creditor’s right to sue and to sue for the amounts claimed due. Believing that there is no point to fighting, the debtor choses to not appear for a hearing, usually at a Magistrate District Court, and the creditor and/or debt collector obtains a judgment by default for the full amount together with interest and attorney’s fees.
If the debtor elects to represent himself at a hearing, the creditor and/or debt collector’s attorney will offer to enter into a settlement agreement with the debtor to make payments over time for the full amount claimed due. If the debtor fails to make timely payments, then the debtor will be immediately responsible to pay the full amount. This is what the creditors and debt collectors desire because to actually prove their case is more difficult than the average person realizes.
All credit card collection cases are contract cases or document cases. The burden of producing those documents at trial is on the creditors and/or debt collectors. The creditor must produce the original agreement and/or credit application to prove that a contract exists and to prove the terms of that contract, including their right to charge interest, costs and attorney’s fees. The debtor has the right to challenge the validity of that debt and make the creditor and/or debt collector meet its burden of proof by producing the credit card agreement and statements. The older the debt the more difficult it is for the creditor and/or debt collector to produce these documents. Often there is no original signed application for the credit card account or the documents have been reduced to an electronic account history or summary on a computer database. Many times older accounts have been sold to third party buyers of debt and they have minimal information from the original creditor.
It is possible to represent yourself at the Magistrate District Court but faced with a lack of documentation, the creditor’s attorney will attempt to prove the debt is owed by examining the debtor at the hearing. Most debtors don’t realize they don’t have to appear at a hearing at Magistrate District Court if they hire an attorney to appear for them. Without any witness or documents, the creditor can not prove its case. Finally, most credit card cases are for uncollectible small amounts and creditors do not want to pay the cost of going to trial or a hearing and would rather the debtor settle or not appear at all.
If the amount exceeds $12,000.00, the suit will be commenced in the Court of Common Pleas. An attorney may be able to get the action dismissed in the preliminary stages because the creditor can not produce the required documents to maintain the suit and prove the allegations of the collection complaint.
Put up a fight and hire an attorney to represent you if you are being sued for a delinquent credit card debt.