Many people have a fear of going to court. The judge, the jury, the courtroom, it can be a scary place for someone who doesn’t do it every day. Even being served with a lawsuit can be scary. A Sheriff Deputy comes and knocks on the door and hands you paperwork. Truth be told, however, is that most credit card cases do not require the individual to actually go to court. As a rule, we don’t allow our clients to attend hearings unless there is an allegation of identity theft.
If you show up to court, you become a star witness for the debt collector. They can call you to the stand, ask you about the debt, then use that testimony to win the case. Attending court can cause you to lose a very winnable case.
Credit card accounts that go delinquent do not result in immediate lawsuits. What happens in many cases is that the original creditor, whether it is a department store or a financial institution, sells the delinquent account to a collection agency or junk debt buyer. Buying and selling debt is a very large business. The original creditor does this to wash its hands of the bad debt, and the collection agency likes this exchange because it is able to purchase these delinquent accounts at a substantial discount, often for only a few pennies on the dollar. What does this have to do with you going to court on one of these cases? Read on.
Credit card cases are what I call “document” cases. The credit card company or collection agency needs documents to prevail in court. Most often, they need a card member agreement, terms and conditions, monthly account statements, and if the debt was sold, a copy of the Assignment. (Assignment is a contract between original creditor and purchasing debt collection company). When a debt is sold, at least when it is sold for pennies on the dollar, the documents often are not sold as part of the deal. Most of you are thinking, “That can’t be true, can it”? It is the truth. Think about the price of the debt. A collection agency pays pennies on the dollar, how much can they actually get? Often, it’s just a name, address, phone number, account number, balance, and not much else. That’s not enough to prevail in a court of law.
What does this have to do with you going to court? Everything. When a collection agency lawsuit is filed on a credit card account, these documents are often missing from the lawsuit. Your proper response would be to hire a consumer attorney to defend your rights and interests. The attorney will file documentation that questions the legal sufficiency of the lawsuit. A judge should agree that the lawsuit is insufficient and force the collection agency to come up with the proper documentation. If they are unable to provide this documentation, and this is often the case, then the court ultimately will dismiss the lawsuit. You, personally, never end up in court. It’s simply just a matter of your attorney handling the case and forcing the collection agency to provide its evidence or suffer a dismissal.