Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Scavenger Wars

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | April 22, 2010

If you have an old unpaid credit card, you should be aware that it is becoming a common practice for the lenders to bundle up delinquent accounts and sell them in bulk to investors.  These accounts are typically sold for pennies on the dollar.  The new owners will then carpet bomb the debtors with phone calls, hoping to get lucky. There is a reason we call them scavengers.

If one of them suggests making a very small payment as a token of good faith, it may be a ploy to revive a claim that is beyond the statute of limitations. These collectors are usually not above utilizing unethical and even illegal means to collect money.

For starters, the mere fact that these anonymous callers know the details of your account doesn’t mean that their company currently owns the debt or ever did.  Once an account is sold, it may have been passed from hand to hand any number of times.  These transactions are not a matter of record and the paperwork they may eventually show you usually doesn’t contain anything remotely approaching proof of ownership of your account .

After the phone calls, there may be a lawsuit.  If that happens to you, contact a lawyer who knows something about defending this kind of claim right away.  The chances are pretty good that the scavenger can’t even prove the case because it has only bare bones information and the original creditor has either purged the file or doesn’t care to be of much assistance. Frequently, they can’t even prove that the claim has been properly assigned to their company.

Don’t allow anonymous debt collectors to shame you into making a payment that  may not be legally required.  If the original creditor has assigned its claim to a scavenger, it has already accepted all the money it is going to receive on the account.  The debt collector who is now contacting you, or who files a complaint against you, is most likely going to make a huge profit if he can induce you to pay, even if the payment is only a fraction of the amount originally owed.

You can fight back, but you must act immediately.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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