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Archive for the tag “collection”

The Secret Defense to Debt Collection Matters

Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a situation where they get behind on paying their bills and, due to lack of funds, wind up not paying some of them.  Not paying one’s bills will more often than not result in that debt being sold to a collections agency and that agency suing the debtor for payment (and adding on all kinds of things, like interest, attorney’s fees, penalties and the like to boot).

Selling one’s debt to a collection agency is an important step in the process that directly affects the subsequent lawsuit against the debtor.  Typically, large lenders – especially lenders like credit cards companies – have a fair amount of debtors who stop paying (for whatever reason) on the debt owed to the lender which results in their debts being sent to collections.  When these lenders send debts to collections, they do so by selling the debts to a collection agency.  When they sell the debts to a collection agency, they will often sell the debts in bulk, often for pennies on the dollar.  The transaction benefits the creditor as it gets something for the debts owed without having to pursue costly and time consuming litigation.  The transaction benefits the collection agency because it can pursue collection (including law suit) against a debtor for the full amount despite having bought the debt for far less than its principal value, let alone its value inflated by interest and such.

More often than not, when debts are sold to collection agencies, the initial creditor (e.g.: a credit card company) simply provides an affidavit to the collection agency regarding the amount of the debts and the names of those who owe the debts.  Typically, no other document is supplied by the initial creditor to the collection agency, including any contracts with the debtor or anything bearing the signature on the debtor.  Once the collection agency assumes the debt, it has the right to bring suit against the debtor for the unpaid debt.

The lack of documentation of the contract with the debtor is absolutely key to any defense to the collection of the debt.  If the creditor brings suit against the debtor in the Court of Common Pleas and does not attach the contract between the debtor and the creditor which underlies the alleged debt, the debtor can file objections to the complaint (the document which initiates the law suit) asking for it to be dismissed due to the lack of a contract.  I can say, from personal experience, that such a tactic works as, very often, the collection agency pursing the debtor simply does not have the underlying contractual documentation to prove its case against the debtor.

If the case is brought in small claims court, the creditor does not have the obligation to include a copy of the contract to the complaint, so successfully defending against a collections law suit takes some shrewd strategy.  The lack of documentary evidence is still a huge problem for the creditor, but the small claims aspect of this matter makes the approach different and much trickier.  As the complaint does not require the contract to be appended to it, and the primary place for these matters to be resolved is at a hearing before a judge, the creditor has the procedural advantage.  At the hearing, the collection agency, armed with an affidavit from the initial creditor (as described above), secures almost all of the other evidence it needs to win against the debtor through the debtor’s testimony.

Here is how the hearing would play out: the creditor describes the claim to the judge, which is that the debtor had a contract with a credit card company (for example), he did not pay the debt owed, and is now in collections and all of this is supported by the affidavit.  Now, the affidavit, taken alone, is insufficient to win the case as there is no evidence that the debtor actually contracted with the creditor.  So, at the appropriate time during the trial, the creditor will ask the debtor some questions (i.e.: cross-examination).  These questions will be something like: “did you have a credit card from XYZ company on these dates”?  “Did you make charges on it?” “Did you make all the payments on it?”  “Do you owe $XYZ on the credit card?” And other questions like it.  At the end of the examination, the debtor himself provides all of the evidence against himself that the creditor needs to win the case against him.   As a result, the creditor will win the case against the debtor thanks to the debtor supplying all of the evidence, via his testimony, need by the creditor.

So, how does a debtor avoid the fate of the debtor in the above scenario?  That is where a good lawyer comes into play.

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia – June 2015 Update

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia’s monthly newsletter is out and can be seen below.  I hope that as the weeks and months progress, the Clinic can continue to grow and flourish in its service to those in need in the Philadelphia area.  Please continue to pray for us and donate to us your time, talents, and treasure as you feel led (if you want to give to our ministry, please see here).  Thanks to everyone who makes this vital ministry possible and thanks, above all, to God from whom all blessings flow.

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Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia – April 2015 Update

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia’s monthly newsletter is out and can be seen below.  I hope that as the weeks and months progress, the Clinic can continue to grow and flourish in its service to those in need in the Philadelphia area.  Please continue to pray for us and donate to us your time, talents, and treasure as you feel led (if you want to give to our ministry, please see here).  Thanks to everyone who makes this vital ministry possible and thanks, above all, to God from whom all blessings flow.

 

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Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia: I Am Volunteer of the Month!

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia‘s monthly newsletter is out and, much to my surprise, I have been named Volunteer of the Month!  Although I do not really view what I do as particularly noteworthy, I am thankful, humbled, and honored by the recognition.  I hope that as the weeks and months progress, the Clinic can continue to grow and flourish in its service to those in need in the Philadelphia area.  Please continue to pray for us and donate to us your time, talents, and treasure as you feel led (if you want to give to our ministry, please see here).  Thanks to everyone who makes this vital ministry possible and thanks, above all, to God from whom all blessings flow.

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Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia: Banquet Bounty

God blesses those who follow his will; of this I do not and indeed cannot doubt.  The older I get the more I realize and learn that God also constantly works on his people by paring away more and more layers of one’s reliance on oneself so that ultimately one is completely reliant upon God and God alone.  I believe my experience with the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia has revealed this truth to me more than ever.

I am on the Board of Directors for the Clinic and when we met in the summer 2014 we were facing very serious challenges.  First, our primary benefactor, who has enabled us to become more than just a loose collection of volunteers and turned us into what we are today, not to mention provided us with the necessary financial stability, may soon have to cut back on his support.  Second, our money reserves were running dry.  We were in danger of not making basic payroll.  We literally may not have had the money to – as the saying goes -“keep the lights on.”

We were concerned.  We were worried.  What would become of this ministry?  What was God doing?  The Clinic serves hundreds of people per year.  We are sharing the Gospel.  We are helping the poor.  We are bringing justice to those who would otherwise have to suffer injustice.  Aren’t these things God’s will?  Aren’t these things what God wants us to do?

Look again at the paragraph above.  Look at how much the word “we” is used.  Look at what “we” were doing.  Apparently, as I mentioned in the introduction above, more than anything else the Clinic needed, God needed to pare away some of our layers of self-reliance.  If you look to God’s Word, what does St. Paul have to say about this?  St. Paul says “[s]o neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  (see I Corinthians 3:7).  The Clinic is planting.  The Clinic is watering.  The Clinic is not giving the growth.  God showed us that starkly as we approached the exhaustion of our resources.  We were on the doorstep of not being able to plant or water.  Our own efforts and resources and strengths could not provide sufficient, indeed any, growth.  What were we to do?

The answer was deceptively simple: pray and rely on God, and not on ourselves, to do what he promised to do: give growth.

Over the last couple of months the Clinic held two banquets, one in Doylestown and one in Philadelphia; I wrote about the Philadelphia Banquet here.  What did God do for us?  The Doylestown banquet precisely closed our budget gap and ensured our solvency through the end of the year.  The Philadelphia banquet allowed us to meet our budget requirements two months early.  Both Banquets introduced us to many new people who just learned about the Clinic and secured more annual and periodic donors to keep a steady stream of support going for us into the future.  We made relationships that may last into the future to assist this ministry.  What else?  We may have finally made inroads to the “big firms” of Philadelphia which have been, thus far, a near impossible nut to crack for support and assistance.

God did not just met our needs; God gave growth.  God showed us that self-reliance is not what he wants.  He wants reliance on him and him alone regardless of our efforts in doing the ministry; indeed, his ministry.  We had to learn that our ministry thrives not because of what we do but because of what he does.  We received unexpected blessings that, as the Psalmist says, did not just fill our cup, but made our cup run over in ways that only God could do.

Below is the latest video presentation of our ministry.  It is an amazing piece of work given to us by the talented filmmaker Timothy Fryett.  Please check it out; you will be inspired!

If, after reading and seeing the above, you feel called to give to our ministry, please look here.  Otherwise, please pray for us and help us in any way you can so that we can continue this ministry, serve God, and bring justice and mercy to those who cannot get it through the legal system.

Thanks and God bless.

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia – Second Annual Autumn Banquet

The Second Annual Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia brunch banquet is this Saturday, November 1, 2014!  You can learn more about it here (the link is the evite).  There is still time to RSVP!  The banquet will take place at the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West which is located at 4010 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131.  The banquet will take place at 10:00am and conclude at about 11:00am and free breakfast/brunch food will be provided.

At the banquet you will learn all about what the Clinic does through a specially shot video presentation and some speakers.  Also, the second annual Guzikowski Award (named after our primary benefactor) will be presented to our volunteer of the year.  Who will it be?!

The Clinic exists to help people secure justice in the American legal system here in the Philadelphia area; to that end, we serve literally hundreds of people in the City of Philadelphia (and the surrounding area) with pro bono or low cost legal services.  We are currently trying to expand into Kensington and Germantown (neighborhoods in Philadelphia) and other areas in order to expand our reach and help more people.

Of course, like any charity organization, in order to help others we need your help to do it.  Please come out to one of our Clinic locations to see what we are doing first hand; our Clinic locations are described here.   Also, we are always in need of money to fund our ministry.  If you feel led to donate, you can do so here.  If you cannot do these things, please pray for us and our ministry or donate your time as we always need help with administration, filing, counseling, chaplaincy, and other similar things in the everyday working of the Clinic.

Most importantly, however, the Clinic exists for people to be the face of Jesus to those who need it and to help people, not just through their legal issues, but through their spiritual ones as well, which so often are closely related to their legal issues.  Help us heed Christ’s call to help “the least of these” by giving to our efforts.  Always remember that Jesus identified himself as among those called “least” as they, in the end, will be great.

Before I forget, please be sure to watch this great video as it is shows a few of the personal stories of the people the Clinic has helped.  This is the video that was made for last year’s banquet.  Thanks and God bless.

 

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