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DON'T BE HAMMERED BY YOUR DEBT

DON'T BE HAMMERED BY YOUR DEBT

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How To Beat An Old Credit Card Debt: Part Three

Read the contract. Almost all debt collection law suits based upon aged credit card debts are breach of contract suits. What that means is that you are being sued for breaking your written promise to repay the debt. Therefore, the key to the suit is the actual written contract. In this case, that means the long, very fine printed, agreement you signed way back when you were first issued the credit card. You need to get a copy of this and read it, every word of it. Getting it may be difficult. If you are being sued in small claims type of court, you may not have the benefit of formal discovery. Formal discovery is used by lawyers to learn about the other sides case. One tool of formal discovery is the Request for Production of Documents. If the court you are being sued in is governed by Rules of Civil Procedure, then you may file a formal Request for Production of Documents before your trial date and obtain a copy of the contract. If the court is an informal or non-rule court, then you need to request a copy of the contract from the collection attorney. You need to make that request politely, in writing and by certified mail. That way if you aren't provided a copy and you see it for the first time at trial, the judge will be sympathetic with you and grant you either a break to review the document or a continuance. So now you have the contract, what are you looking for? You need to examine the maximum amount of interest you are allowed to be charged under the agreement. Has the debt buyer exceeded that amount? Has the debt buyer exceeded that amount by adding on collection fees and costs? Does the amount now sued for exceed your state's usury statute? Next, does the agreement require the suit to be brought in a particular jurisdiction or state? If so, you may be able to have the suit dismissed in your jurisdiction. Does the agreement require either arbitration or mediation? Again, if so you may be able to have the suit dismissed. In the last two examples, particularly with aged debt, the delay in having to either refile in the proper jurisdiction or in the proper forum may run the creditor past the statute of limitations we discussed in part one. So, the bottom line is get a copy of the contract and read it. Read every word of it.


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