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Have You Been Sued for Credit Card Debt?

Many, if not most, individuals in Pennsylvania faced with a debt collection suit do not defend themselves. Perhaps they feel they owe the full amount demanded, perhaps they feel like David fighting against Goliath or perhaps they feel that ignoring it is the best (temporary) option they have. Whatever the reason, they do not respond to the complaint and stand by as the creditor gets a judgment.

Not defending against a debt collection suit is a mistake. Aside from the fact that a judgment will negatively impact your credit score, there are other ramifications of allowing the creditor to get a judgment. In Pennsylvania, a judgment creditor is permitted by law to garnish your bank accounts and execute on other forms of personal property you own. In addition, a judgment by a credit card company or buyer of credit card debt will act as a lien on your house or other real estate owned and can hang around until you sell your house, at which point you will need to pay off the lien. In addition, Pennsylvania law allows interest to accrue post-judgment.

How can you fight a lawsuit for credit card debt in the Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery County area? There are a number of valid arguments you can make. Here is a list of some of the defenses against credit card lawsuits:

  • Mistaken Identity – If you are being sued for a debt on a credit card, make sure that you are the correct defendant. Credit card companies have millions of customers and you wouldn’t be the first (or 100th) person mistakenly sued as a result of confusion on the part of the credit card company.
  • Statute of Limitations – this is the time period within which a creditor can sue you. If that time period has passed and the creditor files suit, nonetheless, the statute of limitations is a legitimate defense.
  • Authorized User – if you are an authorized user of the credit card in question, you cannot be held liable for the amount owed. An authorized user is different from a cosigner. An authorized user is given permission by the cardholder to use his/her card. A cosigner, on the other hand, agrees to be jointly responsible for payment of the debt.
  • Dispute Amount Owed – If you believe the amount owed differs from the amount demanded by the creditor, you have the right to challenge this. It is the creditor’s burden to prove the amount owed, including principal, interest and penalties. You may insist that the creditor provide statements evidencing the amounts owed. Often, the credit card company or debt purchaser filing suit does not attach these documents to the complaint.

These and other valid defenses exist to help consumers (and businesses) defend against collection suits. You should consult an experienced Montgomery County attorney who can provide legal guidance in this area of the law and determine the best course of action for you.

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