New Jersey Credit Card Debt Lawsuits
In many cases where a borrower has been unable to make his or her credit card payments for a significant period of time, the credit card company’s collection efforts will culminate in a lawsuit to recover the debt. Many borrowers in New Jersey credit card debt lawsuits may be tempted to settle for more than they should be required to pay or, worse, may fail to respond entirely and forfeit their right to a defense.
If you have received notice that you are being sued by a credit card company, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced credit card debt lawyer so that you can fully understand your rights in defending the case.
Responding to the Complaint in New Jersey
Credit card companies are legally required to provide delinquent borrowers with notice of New Jersey credit card debt lawsuits in the form of a complaint. It is important to remember that the party listed on the complaint may not be the borrower’s actual credit card company, as most credit card companies sell delinquent debts to third-party collection agencies before resorting to a lawsuit.
The borrower is still required to respond to the complaint even if he or she does not recognize the suing party.
Within 35 days of receiving the complaint, the borrower must affirm or deny each allegation listed in the complaint by filing an answer with the courts. This document preserves the borrower’s legal right to assert certain defenses in court and is a vital part of the lawsuit process. Common responses include:
- Statute of Limitations. If the statute of limitations on the debt has expired, the creditor is no longer able to collect on the debt via a lawsuit. The New Jersey statute of limitations on credit card debt is usually six years, although it may be reduced to four years in certain cases.
- Invalid Service of Process. This claim alleges that the credit card company failed to follow required procedures in providing the debtor with notice of the lawsuit.
- Bankruptcy Protection. If the borrower has filed for bankruptcy, the automatic stay will prevent the lawsuit from proceeding.
Failure to answer the claim will subject the borrower to a default judgment, which gives the creditor the right to garnish wages, repossess assets and levy upon bank accounts if the judgment is not paid.
What Happens After Judgment is Entered in Credit Card Debt Lawsuits?
After judgment is entered in favor of a creditor in New Jersey credit card debt lawsuits, the creditor may have a number of different ways to recover from the debtor even if he or she is unable or unwilling to make the payment immediately in cash. The creditor may:
- Garnish the borrower’s wages by contacting the employer and having the funds removed from the borrower’s paycheck
- Obtain a bank levy to withdraw the funds from the borrower’s bank account,
- Repossess the borrower’s assets to satisfy the debt
- Send an information subpoena to the borrower, which legally requires the borrower to provide specific information about the location of his or her assets, bank accounts and investments
If the court rules in favor of the borrower, the borrower may also have the option of suing the credit card company for damages in the form of attorneys’ fees.
Preparing for Credit Card Debt Lawsuits in New Jersey
A credit card debt lawyer can play a valuable role in New Jersey credit card debt lawsuits. An experienced lawyer will request information via a series of interrogatories that requires the creditor to provide detailed information as to your debt and its right to sue.
In some cases, a credit card debt lawyer can negotiate the amount that you owe down to a manageable amount to avoid court altogether. If you have received notice of a creditor’s intent to sue, contact a credit card debt lawyer as soon as possible for help in preparing the initial answer to preserve your rights.