Definitely! This is America. You have the legal right to haggle with your creditors. It’s the third-party Debt Elimination companies that have been causing problems for the banks, not consumers negotiating on their own behalf. In fact, the banks greatly prefer to deal directly with the customer. If you choose to validate your own debt, as I recommend, then you are fully within your rights as a consumer.
The Common Law
In law, a contract is an agreement between two parties which contains the elements of a valid legal agreement enforceable by law. With Respect to a credit card, the contract requires an offer, acceptance of the offer and consideration.
If you look up the law, you can identify exactly what was offered to you, when it was offered to you and whether the bank fulfilled its end of that offer. In the event the bank breached the contract you may no longer be required to make payments.
In addition to auditing whether the bank breached the contract, you can research documents that are available at the Federal Reserve System and the Securities and Exchange Commission to prove your bank may have sold the entire credit card debt to a third party and received payment in full and also has been receiving a “servicing asset” for servicing the account. This is a very common practice.
This is important because when a credit card issuing bank claims that they have suffered damages as a result of you not making payments the accounting records will show a different story.
Besides the bank not being able to show damages, the bank will have a difficult, if not impossible, time producing the documents necessary to show what credit card agreement applies to your particular credit card.
The Fair Credit Billing Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects consumers from unfair billing practices and provides a mechanism for addressing billing errors in “open end” credit accounts, such as credit card or charge card accounts. When is the last time you reviewed the math on your billing statement and checked using a calculator to see whether the finance charge, new balance and minimum amount due was correct? If you cannot confirm the math or recreate the calculations utilizing the statement, a pen and a calculator, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to dispute the account based upon a math error.
You can also require that the bank clarify the previous 60 days worth of charges. Once this happens and besides not being able to contact you, the Fair Credit Billing Act prohibits the bank from trying to collect on the disputed amount, close the account or report negative information to the various credit reporting agencies.
In the event that any bank violates this act your attorney will address the violation with a lawsuit. The law provides you with actual damages, statutory damages of up to $1000.00 in court costs and attorney’s fees.
You are entitled to the damages that are awarded minus the attorneys’ fee as well as the statutory damages that are awarded by the court.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. It requires that the credit reporting agencies maintain accurate and complete information, investigate and reinvestigate any claim by a consumer that information is not accurate. In the event that a bank or debt collector reports negative information to any of the credit reporting agencies you can notify them in writing the information is not accurate. If they do no delete the negative trade line you can file a claim against the bank, debt collector and/or credit reporting agency.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy. The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act.
You can ensure that no debt collectors contact you while you are disputing the debt by written request. In the event that you are contacted by a debt collector you can file a claim against the debt collection firm and the debt collector individually.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of the applicant exercising his rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or Fair Credit Reporting Act.