“Who is Fia Card Services, and why are they trying to sue me for unpaid debt?” If you are currently asking yourself this question, you’re in good company. Each year, Ascend reviews many cases involving an individual being sued for unpaid debt by Fia Card Services. If you have not yet been sued by Fia Card Services, you may consider reading through our article covering when creditors sue to determine whether you may be sued.
We do not know Fia Card Services strategy in terms of how much it will sue for, but many creditors will set a minimum law suit amount. So, what can you do about this situation? We’ve written this article to help educate and prepare you, in case Fia Card Services comes knocking.
Who is Fia Card Services?
Many people are confused when first contacted by Fia Card Services regarding their debt. “I’ve never heard of these guys”). Let’s get into the basics.
MBNA merged with Bank of America in 2006, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America. In June 2006, MBNA changes its name to Fia Card Services.
What is Fia Card Services allowed to do to me?
Fia Card Services is required to abide by state and federal laws regarding collection of unpaid debt. See the statute of limitations and receive input regarding your specific options for your unique situation.
Why is Fia Card Services deciding to Sue Me?
Trying to hop inside the brain of a debt collection company is a tricky business. Here’s our hypothesis on why Fia Card Services sometimes chooses to sue rather than service your debts.
To determine whether they will attempt to sue you for unpaid debts, Fia Card Services probably refers to several areas of relevant information, including:
- If Fia Card Services were to obtain a judgment in your case, do your state’s laws allow wage garnishment, liens, and levies to be enforced? See: Garnishment Laws by State
- Do you rank on the high or low end of a “likely to pay” scale?
- Does Fia Card Services have a high likelihood of coming out ahead financially by suing you?
- Does the age of your debt put it near the statute of limitations? See: Statute of Limitations by State
If you are being sued by Fia Card Services, you probably met certain criteria in these categories that made you a prime target for litigation.
The Debt Collection Lawsuit
Generally, a debt collection lawsuit begins when the creditor ( or in this case, Fia Card Services) files a complaint with the state civil court and lists you as the defendant. The creditor takes this action in order to show their reason for suing and the amount of payment they hope to receive. This amount will likely include the money you owe plus interest, late fees, attorney fees, and court costs.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the creditor, or their attorney, will often notify you of the action being taken. This is when you receive a copy of the complaint as well as a court summons.
At this point, it’s important that you respond immediately to the court summons. If not, the creditor has the right to request a default judgment. Depending on the state, a creditor with an authorized default judgment will have authority to:
- Freeze money in your bank account
- Put a lien on property you own
- Garnish your wages
You can see the importance of a speedy response. Thankfully, many creditors (including Fia Card Services) are willing to work with you and a debt settlement company even when a lawsuit has been filed. When responding to the summons, make sure you have accurate information. (Since Fia Card Services generally wasn’t your creditor originally, their information might be incorrect.) Review your own records and determine:
- Whether you received a validation letter.
- Whether the amount Fia Card Services states you owe is accurate and whether you truly owe the debt.
- If the debt is past the statute of limitations for your state.
I’ve been sued by Fia Card Services; What are my options?
When interacting with any debt collector, be sure you know your rights. Confirming the identity of the debt collection company and halting harassing phone calls will help make this process easier.
Before you decide on any definite route, we recommend reviewing your entire debt situation with an expert. Analyzing additional debts, credit score, etc. will help you see if you are at risk of being sued by other creditors. It’s also imperative to confirm upfront that you actually owe the amount the company claims you do.
At Ascend, we are here to help. We offer a free analysis of your debt situation and are happy to talk through options with you. Feel free to contact us for personalized answers to your questions.
If you’ve talked with an expert and determined that you do indeed owe the debt in question, here are 4 options for moving forward:
Most Common Options for Fia Card Services
1. Pay the Debt in Full
This route can prove difficult for many folks. If you don’t have thousands of dollars readily available, this won’t be a viable option. However, if your debt balance is small, you have cash available, and you only have a few other debts, you may choose to make a full payment. Be aware that your credit score and credit report may have already been seriously damaged.
2. Settle the Debt Before Judgment
Settling the debt before a judgment is served is one common response to being sued. There are three main methods that you can consider, each with its own pros and cons:
Settle the debt on your own
- Least expensive option
- Need to coordinate with a company/attorney
- Having little to no data on the creditor
- Paying a higher settlement rate
- Having a longer payment period
Work with a debt settlement provider
- The company can provide data on the creditor
- The company can negotiate for you
- You shouldn’t be charged a fee unless the settlement is successful
- You will owe the company a fee
- You have less control over negotiating the settlement
Work with a bankruptcy attorney/ debt defense lawyer
- You now have professional legal help
- You are not required to perform negotiations
- You will owe the lawyer a fee
- You have less control over negotiating the settlement
In either of the last two cases, be sure you know the fees before you sign on. Preferably, make a deal with the lawyer or debt settlement company that charges you a percentage of the total amount saved in the settlement. This encourages them to save you the most money possible.
Also, work for a lump sum payment in your negotiations that can be paid immediately at the end of the settlement. This method should cost you less than paying over the length of a 12 or 24-month period. It’s also important that you obtain a written record of all contracts, agreements, and terms when working with either professional.
3. Consider Bankruptcy
Sometimes when you are sued, bankruptcy is the only logical option. If being sued by more creditors is a realistic threat, applying for bankruptcy can be advisable. You’ll need to examine your available funds, other outstanding debts, current income, and liabilities to determine if this is your best choice. We designed a Chapter 7 Calculator and a Chapter 13 Calculator to help you make sense of your bankruptcy options.
4. Take No Action
In this case, your creditor will probably request the default judgment and will move forward with accessing your funds. Since this option isn’t advisable, we still recommend you try communicating with Fia Card Services as soon as possible. If you need extra time to attempt a settlement, you have the right to file a reply to the creditor’s complaint. We have aided people in your situation before and are ready to help point you in the right direction.
What if I Don’t Owe Fia Card Services the Debt?
If Fia Card Services can’t prove you owe the debt in question, or the contract securing the debt was illegal, you may choose to fight the creditor’s claim. This process essentially tells Fia Card Services to “prove it”. The creditor must then show beyond a doubt that you are responsible for the debt. If this is your situation, request a free consult with a debt collection attorney.
Working through a lawsuit with Fia Card Services can prove to be an overwhelming process. At Ascend, you’ll find professional help and more information about debt, bankruptcy, and other financial topics. Here are some final tips for resolving a lawsuit with Fia Card Services.
~ If you have unresolved debt with Fia Card Services and have not yet been sued, now is the time to resolve the debt. In the past, we have worked successfully to negotiate a mutually beneficial payment plan between our customers and Fia Card Services. Taking this action should help you avoid a future lawsuit with Fia Card Services and you’ll be more likely to get a better discount than if a lawsuit is enacted.
~ Make sure Fia provides written documentation of the collection process. While creditors often try sidestepping this practice, you can obtain documentation by:
- Sending and receiving information via email.
- Recording all phone conversations with Fia Card Services, once notifying them.
- Sending and receiving information by way of physical mail.