If you have substantial American Express credit card debt, the company will come after you for the balance owed. Failure to do anything about the debt will result in collection procedures and possibly a lawsuit. Ignoring these actions is not an option, because the company will get a default judgment that can lead to seized bank accounts, liens, garnished wages, and more. An aggressive legal strategy is key to avoiding unnecessary and costly collections and litigation. The Fullman Firm has successfully negotiated numerous debt settlement plans with American Express that save our clients money. We can help put the anxiety of your debt behind you.
How Is an American Express Debt Settlement Different?
Most credit card companies have an internal department that helps customers who fall behind. But American Express tends to farm out their delinquent accounts to third-party debt collectors relatively soon after you start missing payments. That means by the time you take action on your debt, you may have to deal with another company directly rather than American Express. Make no mistake, however, the debt is still owned by American Express.
What Happens If You Fall Behind?
If you start missing your American Express payments, you’ll begin to accrue late fees. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of what can be a long and expensive process. The company will hire a debt collection company to get as much money as it can from you.
Historically, American Express keeps its delinquent accounts rather than sell them to debt buyers. Of course, that doesn’t mean they necessarily will in your case, but this is standard practice for the company. As mentioned above though, just because they keep the account doesn’t mean you will be dealing directly with them during collections.
If debt collection options don’t work, American Express will eventually file a lawsuit. The problem with this step is that it may result in you having to pay court costs, attorney’s fees, and interest, on top of the debt. Plus, it opens the door to a judgment which allows the company to take more action to collect on the balance.
What If I Receive A Charge-Off?
If you miss several months of payments – usually six – American Express may do what’s called a charge-off of the account. This might sound good, but it’s a misleading term. A charge-off doesn’t mean that you no longer owe the debt, that the debt is invalid, or that American Express cannot sue you to recover the debt. Really, it’s just an accounting tool for bad debts which opens the door to more aggressive action. A charge-off hurts your credit score and stays on your report for seven years.
What If I Ignore American Express Letters And Phone Calls?
American Express will eventually begin sending you letters and making phone calls, sometimes much earlier than other credit card companies do. It can be tempting to ignore these collection efforts, or assume that the company will eventually give up and cancel your debt. However, American Express is one of the most litigious creditors out there. That means these collection efforts are really only the first steps leading to a lawsuit.
American Express Has Sued Me; Now What with Debt Settlement?
American Express has teams of lawyers whose sole purpose is to sue delinquent creditors. A lawsuit starts by filing a summons and complaint. The complaint contains the legal allegations against you, particularly your identity, how much you owe, and details about how far behind on the account you are. The summons orders you to answer the complaint, which you have 30 days to do after being served.
Some creditors try to avoid being served. This usually just delays the inevitable, and there are many methods of service that are available to creditors like American Express. Dodging service only runs up your balance even more in the form of legal fees and interest.
The 30 days to answer the complaint won’t start until you are sufficiently served. You may assert any legal defenses you have in your answer, but beware that there are likely to be few if any available to you. In other words, if you legitimately owe the money, there’s not a lot you can do.
Failing to answer the complaint, once you have been served and the 30 days have passed, allows American Express to obtain a default judgment. That will include the entire balance of your debt as well as interest, attorney’s fees, and court costs. The company can also obtain a judgment against you if you answer and the case goes to trial.
Why Is A Judgment Bad?
A judgment, whether by default or after going to court, isn’t the end of American Express’s actions against you. The judgment will be used to garnish your wages, seize money in your bank account, place property liens against you, or take other steps. American Express won’t stop until it gets all the money you’ve been ordered to pay.
How Can American Express Debt Settlement Help?
Your best bet to negotiate a lower payoff amount is with debt settlement. You and your attorney may be able to negotiate an amount that is significantly less than your balance. If you timely pay what you owe under the debt settlement agreement, your account can be cleared and the collection efforts will cease. Typically, you can get the best deal by agreeing to pay a lump sum. However, payment options may also be available.
Contact Our California American Express Debt Settlement Attorney
Our firm has successfully negotiated debt settlement plans with American Express that save time, stress, and money. The sooner you take action, the greater the negotiating position you will be in with the company. Let us work with you to devise the best debt settlement strategy for your case. Reach out to The Fullman Firm today.