What are my legal rights if I am being threatened to be summoned for a credit card debt? 16 Answers as of January 20, 2011

I have received a call the past two days that I am going to be summoned for a civil suit for an unpaid in-store credit card from 2006. I tried to set up payments but they told me they couldn't accept payments but if I paid the balance in full by the end of the month I can avoid court. I am currently unemployed and cannot come up with the money by the end of the month. What are my legal rights regarding this matter and what is the best action to take? Both days they called and said a uniformed officer will come to my residence to serve me but I have a 2-hour window to call and resolve this matter, which I did the first time they called and they weren't able to work with me. What are the possibilities that they are just trying to threaten me?

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The Shakoori Law Group
The Shakoori Law Group | Rachelle Shakoori
If you have no assets and no income, you are presently judgment proof so even if they sue you, they can't do much with the judgment at the present moment ; however, if you become employed in the future they can attempt to enforce their judgment.

You have an option to file bankruptcy to put an end to their collection or work out a payment plan with them which is at their sole discretion.

I highly recommend that you retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/20/2011
Law Office of Harry L Styron
Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
There are a number of issues which you raise. If you are in California, and if the only obligation on the account is from a purchase made in 2006, then there is the possibility that 4 years later, sometime in 2010, the statute of limitations ran and the debt is no longer collectible. If you made charges on the account after that then the answer is different. Other States may have other statutes of limitations, of which I am unaware.

Lastly, you can consider filing a Chapter 7 action to discharge the debt. You should consult with a bankruptcy attorney on the specifics of the consequences. You may refer to my website for some general information. http://www.wcrklaw.com.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/20/2011
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
Debt collectors will use any means possible to get you to pay the amount owed. To put your mind at ease, try doing a "defendant name" search on-line to see if a lawsuit has actually been filed against you. Depending on the county you live in, you can access cases filed for free. Los Angeles County does charge a fee. If suit has been filed, then someone will attempt to serve your with the Summons, but if not, then you know the "threat" is not true at this time. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/19/2011
DiManna Law Office, LLC.
DiManna Law Office, LLC. | Dawn DiManna
They can take you to court, but you need to appear and request payments based on your income. Or you can file for bankruptcy.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 1/19/2011
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
They can sue you in court. Work out a payment plan or Hire a lawyer and file Bankruptcy.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 1/19/2011
    The Law Office of Brian Nomi
    The Law Office of Brian Nomi | Brian H. Nomi
    The credit card company has the legal right to sue you. If someone serves you with papers saying "You Are Being Sued," then the case is just beginning. Of course, bankruptcy can wipe out any such debts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law | Robert G. Uriarte
    Depending on when this account went into default, they may be barred from bringing suit on this matter. Even if the statute of limitations has not run, it sounds as though they are just bluffing with the "uniformed officer in two days routine". If they in fact file a suit talk to a lawyer immediately to discuss your options. DO NOT PAY THEM ANYTHING, until you sit with a lawyer and discuss the best way for you proceed. Do not let them bully you into paying. Get a legal consult as it may well save you money in the log run. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    Watch out for these scammers. This has been happening quite a bit recently. The caller will not accept payments because your returned check could identify who they are. They will tell you that unless call them within 2 to 3 hours they will send an officer out to serve you with a summons and compliant. *This is all false*. There is no lawsuit filed against you. If you ask for the name of the court and the case number they can't give you the information*, because there is no such case*. If you ask for a copy of the account they will tell you that they "can't give you that information." They won't give you an address, or if they do it will be for a mail box store, (you can google the address and see it). If you look them up on the Secretary of States Web site, they won't be listed. *Don't fall for this*. A real debt collection agency will send you a letter with address information and at least an account number. Watch out, they will call your employer and family and tell them the same thing, that have you 2 or 3 hours to call back. A real debt collector will not do this. This is a scam. I recently investigated one that claims to be operating out of Corona California. They are bogus! Laugh at them and hang up.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    Possible it's a threat, possible it's not. If they summon you to court, you have 30 days to respond. If you do nothing (after being sued), they will win by default and you will be stuck with the debt (which they will be able to collect through the courts in the form of garnishment, lien or levy).

    The filing of a bankruptcy can stop the entire collection and any potential lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    Right now they are just threatening and pressuring you to pay but sooner or later if you do not pay the credit card company has only two choices: 1. write off the debt which is unlikely unless they know the debt is already too old to collect or 2. sue you to obtain a judgment. If the credit card company sues you then someone will come to your house to serve you with a summons and complaint. It will usually be a process server and not a uniformed officer of the law. You will have 30 days to answer the complaint. If you answer the court will set the case for trial and most likely you will lose the case if you do owe the money. However, you might have a legal defense if the debt is too old because of the statute of limitations that generally requires that you be sued within 4 years on a debt in writing and two years on a debt based on an oral contract. When you answer the complaint you will have to state the statute of limitations as one of your defenses to not paying. There are many other legal defenses that might be applicable to your case. You will have the opportunity to work out a settlement while the case is pending in court unless you have a complete defense to the debt. If you do not answer the complaint timely then a judgment will be issued by the court for the full amount owed plus interest, cost and attorneys' fees. There is probably no way to collect the money from you right now because you are not employed but the judgment is good for 10 years initially and can be renewed over and over. They will wait until they can collect from you and might drag you to court to answer questions about your income and assets. Once you get served you should have a consultation with an attorney to explore your options. Depending on the size of the debt you have and many other factors bankruptcy to discharge your debts may be an option so a consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney may be your best choice right away even if you do not get sued now so that you can have peace of mind and start fresh. Once you start working you might not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case if you income is too high so this may be the best time to explore your bankruptcy option.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Greifendorff Law Offices, PC
    Greifendorff Law Offices, PC | Christine Wilton
    You can file bankruptcy, which will stop any collections and litigation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Gus Johnson Attorney at Law
    Gus Johnson Attorney at Law | Gus Johnson
    This is a very broad inquiry that I cannot fully address in this sort of forum. You can normally file for bankruptcy to discharge credit card debts as well as other general unsecured debt. Short of bankruptcy, if you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose. So if you have only nominal property and little income, creditors don't gain anything by getting a judgment against you. Without a doubt, cllectors will tel you just about anything, to try to get money out of you.
    Answer Applies to: South Dakota
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
    Tactics like this are very common. You have to expect that if you do not reach a payment arrangement with them, eventually they will file a lawsuit. The big question is, how does that affect you? If a lawsuit is filed and you do not defend it, they will ultimately get a default judgment against you and can then seek to collect on your assets (by garnishing wages, seizing money in bank accounts, or putting a lien against real estate). These may or may not be significant depending on whether you have a job, lots of assets, etc. You have to figure out based on your entire picture what is best for you. Bankruptcy is of course also an option, so it would be best to have a consult with a bankruptcy attorney to fully evaluate your options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    The Pedigo Law Corporation
    The Pedigo Law Corporation | Brian T. Pedigo, Esq.
    You will likely be sued. Collection actions typically go to default because consumers do not know how to properly answer or defend themselves. You should seek a consumer rights lawyer to help resolve this issue.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
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