Beware a Discover Card Lawsuit
Even a small amount of experience dealing with collection agencies teaches most people that defending a lawsuit from a collection agency isn't exactly rocket science and usually goes something like this:
2. You respond to the summons and show up in court. You demand proof that you owe the debt.
3. The collection agency requests time to come up with proof.
4. The collection agency cannot find proof. The judge dismisses the lawsuit. Game over.
Unfortunately, not every debtor has such a pleasant experience in court. Depending on the original creditor, you may have a much tougher time using the law to your advantage in a debt collection lawsuit – especially if that creditor happens to be Discover.
Why Collection Agencies Lose Lawsuits
As I mentioned yesterday, collection agencies that file a lawsuit against you do so in the hope that you won't respond and the company will subsequently win a default judgment against you. Collection agencies rarely have complete documentation proving that you owe the debt they claim you owe. This is because creditors sell debts in batches. Compiling and including extensive data on each delinquent account requires more time and effort than the original creditor wants to provide. After all, its already taken its tax break on the debt.
This lack of supporting documentation usually doesn't hurt the collection agency very much. It either successfully scares the debtor into paying through threats, annoys the debtor into paying through persistent phone calls or sues the debtor. The debt collector doesn't have to bother with proof if the debtor doesn't show up in court and ask for it. The court assumes the collection agency's assessment of the situation is the correct one and BAM! default judgment.
Discover Card Collection Process
The Discover card company does not sell its unpaid accounts to collection agencies. Rather, the company maintains ownership of the account and hires collection agencies to collect the debts on commission. Discover also doesn't drop packaged debts on collectors like a box of unwanted kittens. Because Discover has a continued interest in the collection of the account, it provides its collectors with full and complete documentation for each account.
The thorough documentation procedure that Discover uses makes it almost impossible for consumers to successfully defend themselves in
court. If your debt was on old Discover card, you can pretty much bank on the fact that the collection agency will show up to court with your original signed contract in tow.
Debt Validation and Old Discover Debts
Most collection agencies, when faced with a debt validation request from a consumer, will send the consumer an account statement and call it legitimate validation – if they respond at all. If your debt was from Discover, however, the collection agency likely has everything it needs to provide you with complete validation.
Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not specify what constitutes validation, sending you copies of the extensive paperwork the company has that supports your liability for the debt benefits the collector considerably. If you know the collection agency has the documentation necessary to prove its case in court, you're more likely to make payment arrangements rather than taking your chances with the judge – saving the company both time and money.
Stop Discover's Collection Agencies With FDCPA Violations
I typically don't take on Discover. That isn't because they can't be beaten – they can – its because my job involves scaring off the collection agency before the case goes to court. If you're getting a summons from a collection agency that works for Discover, its a pretty fair bet that you're going to court.
I made one exception back in 2001 when the person facing Discover was my grandmother. My grandfather had recently passed away. When he died, he still owed a balance on his Discover card. The Discover account was his and his alone. For some reason Discover thought it would be a good idea to try and falsely convince my grandmother that she was liable for that debt.
Getting rid of them at that point was realtively simple since they misrepresented the debt and, in doing so, clearly violated the FDCPA. Suing my grandmother would only have resulted in a counter-suit, so they swallowed the debt and disappeared.
And here is my point: if a collection agency that works for Discover is after you, your best bet is to nail the company on an FDCPA violation. If the collection agency has something to lose, they very well might leave you alone – especially if you owe less than $1000.