Evidentiary issues plague Georgia credit card debt lawsuits (2)
Earlier this week, we began a discussion of the growing problem of inaccurate or outright fraudulent credit card debt lawsuits. Thousands of these suits are filed every month in metro Atlanta courts, and advocates say that number will probably continue to rise.
But, as we discussed in our last blog post, credit card debt often changes hands a number of times, often with a loss of information on the debt at every exchange. So when these cases go to court and are challenged based on their lack of evidence, judges are forced to dismiss them. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t often happen.
The main reason for this is that very few debtors challenge their cases. In fact, most don’t even show up to fight them. This is because many are intimidated by the legal system or believe that they can’t afford to hire an attorney. Others know that they owe some or all of the debt and know that they won’t be able to pay it if ordered by the court to do so.
In addition, the law is unclear on what evidence is required in these cases, and different judges demand varying levels of evidence and documentation of the debt. Some require every statement, while others want only to see the final billing amount.
In a 2010 report, the Federal Trade Commission concluded that the current system of litigation “provides inadequate protections for consumers,” primarily because of the little evidence required in debt collection suits. In January, a new evidence code will take effect in Georgia, which is expected to tighten and clarify evidence requirements. Hopefully, it results in greater protections for debtors facing credit card suits.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Credit card lawsuits replay foreclosure mess,” Craig Schneider, Aug. 24, 2012