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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I have a credit card debt which was incurred in Singapore.

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I have a credit card debt which was incurred in Singapore. I moved to the US from Singapore 6 years ago and I continued to make payments to the bank (HSBC) until recently when I stopped. The account is in delinquent status and HSBC, through its collection unit, the Metropolitan Collection Agency in UK, has been coming after me for payment. After several failed attempts to contact me, my case was passed over to a collector company in the US to handle. The US collector is now coming after me and their final notice to me is that they will take whatever actions, allowable by law, to recover the debt from me. My question is, do they have any jurisdiction over me in the US since the debt was incurred overseas and if yes, what kind of actions can they take against me?

Thank you for your question.

To answer your question directly, yes, they have the ability to pursue you. Generally speaking US law permits a debt holder to file suit against anyone who is a resident in the state provided that the debt was legitimately incurred by that individual. The US collection agency, by filing in court, would place themselves under local jurisdiction, as would you be by the simple virtue of residing here long enough. It would then be irrelevant where the debt was obtained, simply whether or not it is collectible in your state since the collection attorneys would have to use local law to attempt to obtain a judgment. That means that if you reside in California, even if the original contract was in Singapore, California law would be used if the original legal conditions were somehow contrary to local law.

California permits them to pursue you for late fees, court costs, and do so via a wage garnishment, a bank levy, or a potential lien against your other, local assets. If you had a contract, the statute of limitations on debt in California is 4 years but it starts running from your last date of activity on the account (be it a charge or a payment). If you are within that 4 year statute, they could pursue you in court for the debt.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq. and other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. Based on your experience and knowledge, do you have any suggestions on what I could do at this point in time?

Thank you for your follow-up.

You really have 3 options remaining. If the debt is very large, you may want to investigate the option of bankruptcy. That would avoid the debt, but only consider that if the debt is completely untenable. The second option is negotiation and a potential payment plan or a sump sum settlement option in exchange of them dropping the case. Third, you can simply do nothing and try to wait them out. I cannot tell you which option is best for you, but they are all possible.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you again. The amount is about USD 10 to 15 grand. Since the amount is not big and it's an international debt, could you share your past experiences, if any, on what could possibly happen if I were to just wait out?


If you wait it out, they lose the ability to sue you in California. They may still have the ability to sue you in other states if you end up moving. The debt may still be valid overseas based on local law, but at least in California you would be safe from collections.

Good luck!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am confused by your latest response because your first response was that they would be able to take actions against me in California since my case is still well within 4 years. And now, you are saying they will not be able to sue me if I wait it out in California. Is that because the amount is negligible or what? Please could you clarify? Thanks for your help.


They would not be able to sue you in California if this debt goes beyond 4 years. California laws would not let them. But if you move to Texas that has a 6 year statute, they could pursue you there if this is in year 5 of the debt (as an example). Every state in the US has different statutes of limitations, so if you wait out the debt in one, that state's law would give you a defense to collections. But not other states.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. My debt is still barely one year. I do not think they will let me wait it out much longer as they are threatening me with legal actions. Will they be able to make any collections from me or sue me at this stage if I do not respond to them?


They would have to sue first and obtain a judgment. They cannot simply make collections without a court order.

Good luck and kindly rate my answers to you at this time so I may obtain credit for assisting you. Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
One last question, how long does it take to start the suing process and if they cannot get me at all, will they be able to serve the papers and bring me to court? I have not responded to them at all.

My apologies, Ben, but this question is far beyond the scope of your original question, which asked what options they may have against your and whether they have a right to pursue you. I believe I answered those questions in great detail. For this question, which is an even more detailed question than the original request I would ask that you post an additional thread and I would be happy to assist you. While I can respond to direct follow-up concerns and clarifications, if a question is out of scope I am bound by site rules to request that you post it as a separate request.

Good luck.