Yes, a credit card company can sue you. Just in Maryland, we have an electronic case search system. There are hundreds of cases a day filed with either credit card companies or purchases of credit cards filing suit in the state. Hundreds may be an underestimate on some days. There are debt buyers who buy the month file well in excess of 500 cases.
Are There Any Defenses To Credit Card Debts?
Let’s talk for a moment about debt that’s purchased by debt buyers. The first thing that you have to realize if your account has been purchased by a debt buyer is you have to try to make a determination that that debt buyer is actually the owner of your debt. If you pay that debt and they’re not the owner then you haven’t paid anything. You’re still indebted to the original owner of the account. The second thing that you have to realize in connection with that is the law imposes an obligation on the debt buyer to prove that they’re the owner of the account. You, as the debtor, are entitled to put them to that proof. Typically what you’re going to get in Maryland is a complaint that recites that the debt buyer has purchased the debt. Attached to the complaint is going to be a form affidavit that our courts have created for debt buyers to complete. You’re also going to have attached to the complaint, or you should have attached to the complaint, a copy of the bill of sale which references the sale of accounts, one of which theoretically is your account, from an original creditor to the debt buyer. You may have First National Bank selling thousands of accounts to the debt buyer and the bill of sale is going to reference that. The bill of sale is going to also reference likely two other documents and it’s going to be a document that contains the terms and conditions of the sale. Debt buyers resist providing that in my experience. The other document is going to be the actual files that were transferred from the original creditor to the debt buyer that theoretically contain your account information.
Usually what you’re going to receive when you get the summons in complaint is a supposed excerpt from that electronic file that contains the reference to your account. Often when you are served the summons and complaint, you also get something called a Notice of Intent to rely on business records. In Maryland, you have a very short timeframe to respond to that. It’s crucial for a debtor in these cases to have an attorney that files the appropriate response to those debtors, to that paperwork and makes some important requests of the debt buyer to produce information. That’s going to do a couple of things, including create a defense to the lawsuit for every debtor unless the debt buyer produces that information. In my experience, they are very reluctant and very unwilling to do that.
The second thing that it’s going to do is it’s going to motivate them to offer to settle the case on terms that are much more favorable to the debtor than those that are reflected in the complaint. It creates an opportunity to do a couple of things in those cases if you react quickly and effectively. It creates an opportunity to defend the case in the long haul if that’s what the debtor elects to do after conferring with his or her attorney. The other thing it does is provide a very favorable opportunity to bring it to a quick and favorable end, a result that probably has not been previously been offered throughout the entire process.