Zombie Debt, Being Sued by a Debt Buyer

04 Sep Zombie Debt, Being Sued by a Debt Buyer

You read the papers and a company you never heard of, say, Asset Acceptance, is suing you.

They bought the bad debt from a credit card company. This is now a multi-billion dollar industry, big banks and credit card companies sell charged off debt, that is, debt they cannot carry as an asset on their books, to companies that buy bad debts for pennies on the dollar, then try to collect them.

What did they get?

The debt buying company gets a one page computer printout with your name, account number, and a balance. No contract between you and Capital One, or, whoever. No statements. Not even a breakdown of the principal, interest, late charges, an accounting of how the total balance was calculated.

In Michigan, this is not enough to win a lawsuit. They cannot prove that you owe the money.

The debt buyers are not concerned with that, as most people do not respond to lawsuits. With no response, the debt buyer wins by default and moves to garnishment and/or other collection measures.

The debt buyers and their lawyers know this, and frequently drop the suit if met with a response.

So, as always, when you get legal papers like a lawsuit, contact an attorney. Just because it was filed with a court does not mean it is true.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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