Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Pennsylvania

I send a payment through my bank to pay my Dell account. I checked and it has gone through like all the rest of them. I did miss a few payments and was trying to get things back in balance. Dell did send the bill to collection, and I requested in writing for them to send me a payoff, no response. I did make a payment like I said online, and it went through. I got served a letter to appear in court about the amount owed, unless I can settle it out of court with an attorney. If Dell accepted the payment, can they still sue me?

Asked on 5/11/13, 8:45 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Yes they can. Making payments, without getting a specific letter from the debt collector agreeing to this was not wise. If the statute of limitations expired, then you revived it by making a payment.

You now have the following options:

(1) you have $10,000 in dischargeable debt (probably other credit or medical debts) then consider filing bankruptcty;

(2) if you do not want to file, do you have any potential defenses/objections as a defense to the lawsuit? If so, see a local litigation attorney.

(3) try to settle.

If you have been sued in small claims (which sounds like it because a hearing date was set - small claims is $12,000 and under) then you can do a few things. If you have the funds, you can try to settle now for a lump sum. I would recommend that you get a lawyer to assist you or that you at least consult with one. Yes, you can settle on your own, but you may come out ahead financially if you rely on a lawyer's expertise. If you do not have the funds to settle, do NOT make any payment arrangements. You may be immune from collection because you are "judgment proof." If that is the case, then you may want to save up and try to settle in a lump sum at some later time. If you have a lot of assets and are not judgment proof, then you might want to make payment arrangements. However, get it in writing in the form of an agreement. And if you do this prior to the hearing, it is unlikely that the lawsuit will be dismissed. The lawyer for Dell will probably want you to sign a consent judgment and the payment agreement will be party of that. Again, you would be better off discussing with a lawyer and having any agreement reviewed first before signing.

If you cannot resolve the debt, please protect your bank account. PA law allows you to exempt up to $300 in any one bank account (unless you get Social Security or other exempt income). Don't keep more than this in the bank if a judgment is entered. And don't bank at a big bank (like PNC, Wells Fargo, Bank of America etc.). It would be better if you got an online bank account or banked at a credit union or very very small community bank located 25-50 miles from your home.

If you are interested in discussing this with an eye towards a non-bankruptcy non-litigation solution, please contact me at [email protected] Email consults are free; I charge $50 flat fee for a 30 minute phone consult. I also resolve debts for a reasonable flat fee.

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Answered on 5/11/13, 2:02 pm

Greg Artim Morrow & Artim, P.C.

The previous answer was right, YES they can sue you. The real question here that you need to look at is, "who sued you"? In my experience, Dell sells a lot of their debt in Pennsylvania to junk debt buyers. If your debt was sold, you NEED to hire a consumer attorney to defend. You should prevail if that is the case. What this means is that the lawsuit can be based upon a Dell account, but perhaps you are being sued by a different company.... check to see who the Plaintiff is. If the Plaintiff is Dell, then you can still win the case, the odds simply go down a bit. Contact a consumer attorney in Pennsylvania to have your case looked at in greater detail.

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Answered on 5/12/13, 5:15 am

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