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Creditor Jurisdiction Overseas – Jonny

“Dear Steve,

Moved overseas to New Zealand a couple years ago. Went overseas with about $8000USD in credit card debt. I’ve tried to pay it off but a couple “life accidents” with employers have left me at about the same amount. I’m setled in the South Pacific and have no intention of returning to the US to live. I had lived in Texas before moving overseas.

What type of jurisdicition do creditors in the US have if I decide to stop payments and default? My last registered address was at my parents so will collectors harrass them? I don’t want this happening as they had nothing to do with this. I have no assets or income in the US. Should I just walk away from the debt?


I asked my friend Mike Killian to answer your question for you. I wanted to make sure you got an answer as quickly as possible as I’m a bit backed up at the moment. I’ll be watching the comments on this question and be around to help if you need me.


Dear Jonny,

I will answer the easy part of this question first. I can 99% guarantee the creditors will harass whomever they can find who might know of your whereabouts. Additionally any summons to appear will be sent to your last known address. Consider if it was you who was owed the money. Would you leave any rock unturned in trying to recover your property?

As far as jurisdiction of creditors oversees, one international collector advertises, “Money knows no borders. Neither do we.” You might also want to take a look at the laws of where you will be. US collectors have specific guidance on what they can and cannot do. Those guidelines may not exist in foreign countries and you could be worse off than in the US.

At the same time a collection has to be worth the time and money of pursuit. The collector also has to feel there is some degree of certainty that they will not only be able to make contact but that you will have the resource to pay.

Consider also this fact. Though you won’t be extradited for your debt, leaving a debt behind is illegal. A very well written document at Debt Prison had this to say:

“If the collection agency has a judgment and your new address… the agency could push for long arm jurisdiction through the court system. This request would be made possible through your new country’s U.S. Embassy or other such legal representation. The new country may then decide to assist the U.S. court in exercising the judgment. Some countries arrest defendants for debt… while others do not. “

Wouldn’t it be easier simply to negotiate with them for a lesser amount?



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About Mike Killian

Mike Killian
Mike Killian is founder of Learning Credit and Debt Management. He has been writing and teaching about credit and debt management issues for over 12 years. His articles have been referenced by various members of the media, including MSNBC and The Motley Fool. Mike has also offered debt elimination seminars to businesses and community colleges for many years. He has an MS in counseling and is a nationally certified as a Personal Finance Counselor. Mike can be found at
  • Steve Rhode

    Not entirely true. The field of international collections does exist, albeit a small industry at present.

  • JDSK

    This is total nonsense they will not come after you.

  • JDSK

    This is total nonsense they will not come after you.

    • Steve Rhode

      Not entirely true. The field of international collections does exist, albeit a small industry at present.

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