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socrateaser
socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
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Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate Broker -- Retired (mostly)
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I maxed out a number of credit cards because of being in really

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I maxed out a number of credit cards because of being in really bad financial shape. I have left the country and notified the 5 credit cards that I have left the country. I found it interesting that the credit card companies told me that they are not allowed to make out-of-country calls to debtors, so even though I haven't made any payments in about 5 months, I get no calls from creditors.

One of the cards, Capital One, sent me an email saying if I didn't pay they MIGHT sue me. My concern with them was that they refused to list my official address as out of the country. They said their system would not allow it. And what made me nervous was I did get a letter they had sent to my old Florida address, which wasn't supposed to forward to me, but did. So I have been concerned they will potentially send court papers to the Florida address and sue me that way. The only reason I care is because I keep one NY bank account that I wire money into and then from there wire to my ex-wife to pay alimony.

So what I did to try to stall was I called Capital One and said I was filing for bankruptcy. Which is something I plan to do when I return to the U.S., but probably not for 5 or more years. And I had to give them the name of an attorney, so I gave the name of a friend who is a retired attorney. I know just by telling Capital One I was filing it put my account on a bankruptcy hold, but I don't know how long that will last. If they contact my friend, and he just says that nothing can proceed because I haven't paid him, then what will happen? How long can I play this game? Alternatively, I would have been happy if there was a way to insure that Capital One sues me only here in London -- is there any way to stop them from sending lawsuit papers to the old address? I mean, if they do, and win a judgment, then I would have to go to court back in the U.S. to fix the mistake -- at least this is my concern.
If they contact my friend, and he just says that nothing can proceed because I haven't paid him, then what will happen?

A: Your friend, assuming that he is treating your arrangement as an actual attorney-client relationship, can be instructed to say nothing at all. All correspondence with your lawyer is confidential and privileged, and you hold the right to maintain that status. I'm sure your attorney is well aware of this obligation, since it is the fundamental duty of every attorney to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself to preserve the secrets, of his or her client.

Assuming that the attorney is instructed to simply say that the bankruptcy filing is "pending," then that would probably cause the creditor to back off for a while longer.

How long can I play this game?

A: Six months, in my opinion. After that, the creditor will decide that you're playing games, charge off the debt and sell it to collections.

Alternatively, I would have been happy if there was a way to insure that Capital One sues me only here in London -- is there any way to stop them from sending lawsuit papers to the old address? I mean, if they do, and win a judgment, then I would have to go to court back in the U.S. to fix the mistake -- at least this is my concern.

A: The creditor doesn't know that your mail is being forwarded. Under FL Stat. 48.194(1), service of process to a person outside of the USA may be required to conform to the provisions of the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. See this link (open the section entitled "Service of Process."

If the creditor can serve you in London, then it can sue you in the USA. However, it is far more likely that the creditor will simply charge off your account, send you an IRS Form 1099-C, and then sell the debt to a debt collector. The debt collector will transfer the debt to a London affiliate and sue you in London.

Please let me know if my answer is helpful, or if I can provide further clarification or assistance.

And, thanks for using justanswer.com!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Okay, so after 6 months let's say they want do want to sue me. I won't be in London after 6 months, and if I don't give the credit card companies a forwarding address, they won't be able to sue me.


 


But to address my primary concern, that because Capital One doesn't allow me to update my online profile to an out-of-country address, although they told me that it says I am out of the country in the notes, and since I have heard a lot of these credit card company lawsuits are done en masse, couldn't they use the old address and since I won't be notified and won't be there, win a judgment against me? Is there anything I can do to notify them in such a way they would not consider suing me except at the London address I have given them?

But to address my primary concern, that because Capital One doesn't allow me to update my online profile to an out-of-country address, although they told me that it says I am out of the country in the notes, and since I have heard a lot of these credit card company lawsuits are done en masse, couldn't they use the old address and since I won't be notified and won't be there, win a judgment against me? Is there anything I can do to notify them in such a way they would not consider suing me except at the London address I have given them?

A: If they serve you in Florida, it must be accomplished by handing it to you personally, or to a person located at your "usual place of abode." Since there is no such place, even were you to be sued, and the process server were to lie about serving you, if you could show via passport/visa records that you were not in the USA at the time, and through your lease records, that you did not reside at the address where service was made, then a court -- even a UK court, would have to set aside any judgment against you.

Additionally, if you file bankruptcy, then your personal obligation to pay the judgment is discharged, so it won't matter, even if you are sued.

Personally, I don't think that the creditor will sue. It will do what all large credit card issuers do: charge off the account, send a 1099-C to you and to the IRS, and then sell the debt to a debt collector. And, that debt collector will try to sue you where you're located, if it can.

Hope this helps.
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