Unifund is another in the long list of junk debt buyers. They aren’t quite as large as the big players in the debt game, but they are certainly formidable. Unifund buys delinquent credit card accounts and loans in bulk from original creditors for pennies on the dollar. They typically hire top notch collection attorneys to try to collect on these cases.
In our experience, Unifund seems to go through stages where they file a lot of lawsuits, then slow down, then up and down again. In other words, they don’t seem to be a company that files 250 of these everyday in Pennsylvania like the larger debt buyers do. There are ebbs and flows, presumably due to the amount and frequency of their credit account purchases.
Our approach to defending lawsuits filed by Unifund is dependent upon where the lawsuit is filed. In Pennsylvania, Unifund would have the choice to file the lawsuit at the local District Justice (if the case is less than $12,000) or in the Court of Common Pleas. If the claim is filed at the local District Justice then we would simply enter our appearance on your behalf and then attend the hearing. There is no requirement to file a written Answer or Preliminary Objections at that level. In most cases, Unifund will hire an “appearance attorney” to represent their interests. This is akin to hiring a “temp”. In most cases, Unifund will not send a witness to the hearing so it will end up being a legal argument between two attorneys. In almost every instance, Unifund will lack sufficient documentation to prove a case. If your judge follows the law you will have a great chance at winning the lawsuit.
If the lawsuit is filed in the Court of Common Pleas then the defense strategy is different. Depending upon the size of the case, either Preliminary Objections or an Answer must be filed with the court within 20 days of being served with the lawsuit. This initial written response is crucial and should only be drafted by an experienced consumer attorney. If you file the wrong response, or if you file an inadequate response, you can end up waiving some of your defenses. That’s why this is not a game to be played alone. Please do not try to represent yourself on this type of case. You will end up losing what was a very winnable case. The biggest hurdle that Unifund has to overcome is to prove that they actually own your debt. Just because they have a Bill of Sale or some of your monthly account statements does not prove ownership, at least not at the current legal standard. The second issue that they have to prove is that you owe money and then if that is proven, they have to prove the amount that is owed. Again, this is much easier said than done when it comes to a junk debt buyer lawsuit.
Our firm has a great deal of experience in defending credit card collection cases. We have handled approximately 25-30 cases per month for the last decade. If you have been sued in any Pennsylvania county, by Unifund or another collection agency, our firm can potentially help you defend this claim at minimal cost, with a great chance at success. Contact our office here, call me at 412-348-8600 or visit our Pennsylvania Credit Card Legal Center here.