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Why Did American Express Cleaned Me Out Over an Old Debt?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I have an old 7 year bill with Amex. I received mail that it was uncollectible…hit hard with the recession ๐Ÿ™

Then a few months ago I started getting mail from an attorney Elisabeth Bleier and they emptied my bank accounts, both checking and saving. They want the full amount NOW.
Do I have any course of action?

Joy

Answer:

Dear Joy,

It sounds like the efforts of collectors have gone unattended to. You may have been the subject of a lawsuit over this debt and American Express may have won, because you didn’t show up, as most people don’t.

The attorney would have then gone back to the court in an effort to levy your bank account. It’s not clear if you are working or live in a state that prevents wage garnishments. In fact so much is not clear from your question that the best advice I can give you at this point would to urge you to meet with an attorney who is licensed in your state.

What is clear is that either voluntarily or involuntary this situation has crept away from your supervision and has unfolded beyond your view. A lack of clarity about what happened is not the fertile breeding ground of good decisions.

My bigger concerns are if the debt was outside the statute of limitations and that could have been raised a defense to prevent the suit from moving forward. Were you properly service notice of the suit? Was this a lawsuit at all?

So you have three major courses of action you can select from.

  1. You can contact the attorney and attempt to negotiate some solution based on what the current reality of the situation is.
  2. You can contact a local attorney to represent you and see if this was even a legitimate suit.
  3. You can file bankruptcy to eliminate this debt and prevent further action on this debt.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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