Subject: Filenes debt
Question: A few years ago, Filenes department store went out of business and I ceased paying my balance on their credit card. It's been over 6 years since I've used it.
Today I'm being harassed to pay up.
Furthermore, my parents are being called by this collector 3 to 4 times a day who leaves messages meant for me.
What are my rights in this situation?
Is the fact that the store is now out of buisness have any bearing on this matter?
Tony from Massachusetts
Answer: First of all, if the store is out of business then who would get the money if you did pay. Sure wouldn't be Filenes now would it? So the question then becomes did they buy the debt or did Filenes assign them to collect the debt for them? If Filenes assigned the debt then their assignment rights went bye-bye when Filenes went out of business. They would then have no right to attempt collection. Or did they buy the debt before Filenes went out of business? If so they cannot now bring suit against you in the name of Filenes. If they bring suit against you in their own name they have no right to reference any agreements you signed with Filenes. They would have to bring suit in their own name.
Then when what state are you in? The statute of limitations has probably run out on them but I have to know what state you are from to be able to tell you that. If the statute of limitations has run then you can win in court by filing a properly prepared statute of limitations defense.
Also if they file a case against you claiming you owe the debt I believe you can bring a federal case against them for providing you with false and misleading information and misrepresenting the legal status of the debt. Depending on what they said in their state court case they can be sued for other reasons as well in federal court although the causes of action would probably be the same but multiple counts thereof.
Now then, as to your parents, they can also file federal lawsuit against the debt collector but my thinking is that they first need to send a cease & desist letter to the debt collector telling them to cease & desist calling them and if they violate that then they would have much better grounds to file a federal case against the debt collector.
You can find an example of a good cease & desist letter on my message board at Creditwrench message board
and in the RESOURCES section. If you can't find it or you have problems understanding how to use it you can always call me at 405-616-7901 and I will be glad to help you through it. Another question is whether or not your name was on the account. If not they can't legally come after you for it even though you may have paid on the card.
But I see that you say you have used the card as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that your name was on the card, of course. So now to sum it all up, your parents need to send them a full cease & desist letter by certified mail return receipt requested. You can fix it up for them and then take it to them and have them sign it and mail it off. Don't try to do it all for them.
You need to quit worrying about getting sued for not paying them because you can easily win the case if it is out of statute. Again you can always call me at 405-616-7901 for a free consultation on the matter.
That invitation also goes for anyone having problems and wanting to discuss them with me. There will never be a charge or obligation for that other than the cost of your phone call and if you can't call me for free then send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and give me your phone number and best time to call and I'll call you because I can call anywhere and talk for as long as I want for free.