The iconic American Express, or AMEX, centurion is one that is instantly recognizable among consumers, but for many, it can be a harrowing reminder of what the company can do when it goes after a debtor. American Express is among the more difficult companies to handle once they file a lawsuit, and people on the receiving end of one should assess their options immediately. Unlike many credit card companies, American Express maintains ownership of nearly all of its accounts, which does mitigate some strategies consumers have in fighting a lawsuit. Fortunately, that’s not the end of it, as consumers, with the help of an attorney, can often secure a workable settlement.
Being Sued By American Express In Texas?
Who is American Express?
American Express is among the oldest corporations in the U.S., with nearly 170 years of doing business. Though originally an express mail business, within just a few years of its founding, American Express started offering money orders and lines of credit in the late 19th century. For more than a century, then, American Express has been in the credit business, among other industries. Today, it is best thought of as one of the world’s most powerful financial services companies, with a reach that extends to all parts of the globe. In other words, this isn’t a young, poorly organized business. There are about 110 million active American Express accounts, with a little less than half of those in use in the U.S.
American Express is not a bank nor are they a loaning institution. They provide lines of, usually high interest, credit to their account holders. That means when someone goes in debt with American Express, they are holding high-interest credit card debt.
How does American Express handle a debtor?
American Express is an interesting, and challenging, opponent for debt defense attorneys. Unlike many credit card companies, American Express rarely, if ever, sells debt to debt buyers. Debt buyers are businesses whose mission is to buy debts that are considered uncollectable, usually for pennies on the dollar. This is a very common transaction in the financial services world, but one, again, that American Express does not take advantage of. As such, American Express normally keeps accurate records of all of its account holders and their debts.
However, American Express does not have a large internal collections department, instead relying on third party debt collectors to handle the process for them. These collectors will attempt to claw back the debt from account holders before a lawsuit is launched, and it is often worth it to end the process here. The problem is, it’s difficult to know what kind of settlement a debtor can achieve. American Express farms out its debt to several third party collectors, and each has their own philosophy in settling on debt. In some cases, a settlement can be reached if the debtor offers 30 or 35 percent of the debt in settlement. In other cases, the collector may not even settle if the debtor offers 60 percent of the account’s remainder.
Factors that can affect this number include how recently the account was opened up and the nature of the debt. If the debt was the result of a large balance transfer or expensive luxury items, settlement will not be easy to negotiate.
What should I do if American Express is suing me?
There is one clear sign to look for when a lawsuit is imminent. If letters start coming in demanding the debt and they are addressed from an attorney in state or otherwise nearby, then look out. This means that a lawsuit could be forthcoming if immediate action is not taken.
For most people, though, the first mention of a lawsuit will be delivered by a process server. The collector, through their attorney, will file a petition with the court so as to compel the defendant to appear in court. This citation is given to the defendant via a process server, who “serves” the papers in an official fashion. However, unlike what some movies would have you believe, a server doesn’t always need to hand-deliver the citation. Though that’s standard, they can also leave the papers on the doorstep. In short, dodging a process server isn’t going to get someone out of a lawsuit.
AMEX lawsuits, once filed, must be responded to in an aggressive manner. This means:
- Get a debt defense attorney – Although it’s never a good idea to rush into legal matters, do not hesitate to find an attorney immediately. The court will require an answer to the lawsuit quickly, and if an answer is not forthcoming (the vast majority of defendants do not do so), then the court will render a default judgment in favor of American Express and its collector. That’s when things can really get bad for a debtor.Fortunately, many debt defense attorneys offer free consultations to those facing a lawsuit. Find an attorney that provides expertise, a clear solution and a transparent communication style.
- Answer the lawsuit – From here, a debt defense attorney will provide the needed insight, but all defenses begin by answering the suit. The answer will usually deny any allegations and list any defenses. Once this is done, the attorney can start fine-tuning their client’s defense.
- Fight a default judgment if one has been rendered – By the time most people seek out an attorney, they are already dealing with a default judgment that is not in their favor. The first order of business is to turn this judgment back, because AMEX and its collectors can go after the defendant’s assets as soon as they win a judgment.
- Demand American Express’ records – Once the lawsuit is established, both sides will have the opportunity to request all information needed to build their cases. At this point, the attorney will demand all records of the defendant’s AMEX account to prove that they are responsible for the debt. In most cases, American Express will have this information available, but it is still worth demanding it.
- Settle – If the debt is something that American Express can prove beyond all doubt, then the best option for the defendant is to settle. Because trials are never guaranteed and require resources, American Express will often be willing to settle a suit to prevent going to trial. At this point, the debt defense attorney will fight for the most favorable settlement possible, and will usually reduce their client’s financial obligations to a significant degree.
If the defendant is being accused of debt they did not accrue or debt that has passed out of the statute of limitations, then the attorney will fight for their client during the trial. These trials are bench trials, so they are decided on by a judge and not a jury. They are, as a result, faster and more efficient, so it is worth it for a defendant to pursue.
American Express is one of the most powerful companies in the world, with an army of collectors at its beck and call. But even facing those odds, a debt defense attorney can still ensure that their client is not taken advantage of and ensure that all possible defenses are considered.
Contact a Proven Debt Defense Lawyer if American Express Has Sued You | Free Consultation
Call Mastriani Law Firm, PC, at 888-392-8121 or 713-665-1777 for a free consultation. We will explain your options and how our services work. If you don’t think you can afford to pay a lawyer, on top of your monthly debt payments, we can even discuss a payment plan that works within your budget.
Call us toll free at 888-392-8121 or contact our office by email to arrange a free initial consultation with a Fort Bend County credit card lawsuit defense attorney at Mastriani Law Firm today.