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Usury and Non-Bank Loans

I have had my hands full lately with the National Banking Act (NBA). Specifically, the question is whether the NBA, which protects national banks from usury claims, applies to debt collectors which buy the debts. It turns out that question has several possible answers.

National Banking Act Allows Usury

Here’s the background: some states have laws limiting the amount of interest lenders can charge. Under the NBA, a bank can issue credit cards that charge high interest in states with usury laws. Yes, it’s a scam (they call it “exporting interest rates”), but they can. What happens if your debt gets sold to a debt collector? The NBA applies to national banks, not other businesses, so you might think a debt collector would be committing usury by trying to collect illegal rates. That would also violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Under Madden, Debt Collectors Don’t Receive NBA License to Commit Usury, Regulation Changes That

The Second Federal Circuit of Appeals found that debt collectors collecting usurious rates was, in fact, illegal in a case called Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC 786 F.3d 246 (2015). Some other circuits, notably the 8th, have tended in the other direction. The Supreme Court denied certiorari (review) of Madden, so it remains in place as law of the 2nd Circuit. Unfortunately, the debt collectors managed to sneak a new regulation through that negates Madden. That regulation is at: 12 C.F.R. part 331, 84 Fed. Reg. 66845.

Possible Outcomes

This leaves us in an odd place. If you are in the 2nd Circuit currently being sued by a debt collector on a card with interest higher than your state allows, you have a powerful defense and a counterclaim probably under the usury law and FDCPA. I think it is still good, though you can expect some fighting on the question of retroactivity of the regulation. What about claims arising in the future, though? What about claims outside of the 2nd Circuit?

Courts are supposed to give “great deference” to regulations duly issued by agencies charged with enforcing specific laws. Without going into details, this regulation would seem to fit that bill and should probably receive that deference. It is not unheard of for the courts to reject such a regulation, but it is rare, and, in my opinion, very unlikely in this situation – even in the Second Circuit. Thus I believe that in the future this defense will not be effective. I do believe it could be raised in good faith however, at present, and that may have some advantage for a pro se defendant. It will be a long shot even in the Second Circuit, however, and longer elsewhere.

What about claims existing now but outside the 2nd Circuit? Will the regulation affect the way the 8th Circuit, for example, reads Madden? It probably should not, but it probably will. The regulation is supposedly based on the FDIC’s reading of an existing statute rather than a new legislative enactment – it will probably be considered an authoritative interpretation of the statute even though, in practical effect it is a new legislative act. But this is not certain, and again, I think the issue may have advantages for pro se litigants to raise, and winning is not out of the question in my opinion.

What if you live in a state with a usury law and a debt collector is trying to collect higher rates – but is not suing you. Can you sue them? I believe the answer is yes – all the foregoing analysis applies to the attempt to collect the debt, not necessarily limited to litigation attempting to collect the debt.

Incidentally, the NBA explicitly extends to all FDIC-insured entities. This question came up in a teleconference relating to loans issued by WebBank, which apparently IS FDIC insured. Our consideration of whether WebBank itself can charge usurious rates, then, must conclude that it can indeed do so.

One might consider that enforcing an explicitly illegal contract (usury) would be void as against public policy under state law. And so it is. However, the federal preemption doctrine that the NBA invokes overrules that – states cannot claim a federal policy is against their public policy.

If you get a loan now and at some point in the future a debt collector tries to collect usurious rates that would have allowed to the original lender, I think you’re out of luck regarding the defenses and counterclaims we’ve discussed here. The new regulation permits it, as I read it. Of course you still have all the usual defenses and attacks we always use against debt collectors, so your chance of winning remains srong.

Genetic Privacy and Government Data Bases

Michael Connelly is one of my favorite authors, and he’s just come out with a new novel, Fair Warning. It is, like so many Connelly books, about serial killers. In this one, the killer appears (I haven’t finished the book yet) to be using a company selling genetic family tracing information to locate victims. Unlike any other Connelly book of which I’m aware, Connolly uses a real person as a character, and a real business of which he is actually a part (FairWarning.com). He also makes this point (and verifies that it is current law): the marketing of genetic information is not regulated by the government.

I see those messages as activism,  by Connelly, although the message that a business or type of business is unregulated by the government is far enough from my main concern on this issue that I haven’t looked to see if Connelly has actually identified what he was doing as activism. In my opinion, the government itself poses the far greater danger, and of course government always exempts itself from regulation.

Here are the facts. In the book, the company in question was selling genetic sample packs. You fill them out, give them to the company, they do a genome analysis and tell you, among other things, whether you have unknown family members. The company makes very little money off of its customers, and it gets rich by selling their anonymized information to companies all over the world. (All of this happens in real life. There’s even a cliche about it: if you don’t know how a company makes its money, YOU are the product.)

In addition, there are many other sources of “bio-information” about people. Apple (at least) lets you use your fingerprint as the security password controlling whether or not a phone opens. And everywhere you go there are video cameras videoing you and everybody. Even as you read this article, police are using those camera images to track down suspects related to the protests happening everywhere. Facebook keeps everything you give them, and as much as they can appropriate with their snooping software, as well. Companies track the location of your mobile phone 24/7 and store the information forever, and this, I suppose, will be the basis for the “contact-tracing” apps we keep hearing about. I keep hearing that Microsoft or other companies are working on microchips that could be embedded in our bodies that would store and transmit various biological information.

There is a vast amount of information out there linking your genetics, lifestyle, and looks, your computer habits and identities, and every other conceivable fact about you. It is all accessible to government, and computers now have the capacity to assimilate it and use it in many ways.

Of course there’s a fox (or many foxes) for every hen house, and that’s what Michael Connelly likes to write about (which he does, superbly). I am concerned with the bigger question: is freedom possible when we all live in such a hen house? I fear that it already isn’t possible, but that if it still is, it won’t be for long. I believe protecting, restricting and reducing such information is everyone’s responsibility – everyone who believes in freedom, anyway.

To link this to debt collection, which is my normal task, is simple. The existence of all this information makes it easier for debt collectors to find you and your money. Makes it easier for them to sue you, and whatever makes it easier to sue you makes it more likely that they will. And it makes it more likely that your information will be stolen and fraudulent accounts will be created in your name. The more information the scammer has, the harder it will be for you to clear your record.

Why Defend Yourself from Debt Collectors

Why you Should Defend against Debt Collectors, and Why you Can Do it Yourself

Get a copy of this article in PDF format by clicking here: why defend yourself

When you are sued by a debt collector, you are presented with two questions that often merge into one because of money.

  • Should you defend yourself (at all) from the lawsuit?
  • And if you do defend, do you have to have a lawyer?

A lot of people answer the second question first. They decide they need to have a lawyer in order to get anything done, and then they decide they cannot afford a lawyer, so they fail to defend themselves at all. This is a mistake.

First: Should you defend yourself?

Our answer to this question is absolutely “Yes.”

There is a tendency for people to think that lawsuits (filed against them) are only filed because the lawsuit is “good,” and that the plaintiff will or should win. That isn’t really true of any kind of lawsuit. In most kinds of law, however, the plaintiff’s lawyer will have done some research into the law and facts and will have some confidence that it’s a winner. After all, in most kinds of lawsuit, one expects a defense – the lawyer anticipates spending a considerable amount of time and money on the case before collecting anything significant.

And most plaintiffs are at least somewhat reluctant to start a lawsuit because of time and expense; often they are extremely reluctant, and with good reason.

Debt Law is Different

These things are simply not true of debt cases. In debt cases, a debt purchaser buys hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of supposed debt and files suit without ever doing ANY research into the validity of the debt at all. When they file suit, very few debt collectors have any idea at all of whether they have a right to the money, and they have little, if any, evidence of the debt. They think they might be able to get some if they have to, but they file suit expecting not to need any evidence at all. And they’re usually right.

They Expect you to Give Up

They design their cases to cause people to give up without fighting. Since most people, in fact, do give up one way or another, the whole debt collection business is based on not spending money or time on a case.  As soon as you do anything at all to defend, you cause the company to diverge from its business model. Of course, they know some people won’t just give up – they know people hate them, after all. So even though you have stepped out of their business model by resisting, you haven’t really challenged them yet. To challenge them, you must make them spend time and money on your case alone. We’ll discuss that below.

What if you Don’t Want to Fight?

Actually, NO ONE really wants to fight. It takes time and involves various uncomfortable feelings, from insecurity to anger, to frustration. You will at some point need to weigh these lifestyle questions, but the appropriate place to start is with the legal questions. And our answer to those is that it makes sense, always, to fight the debt collector.

Regarding the more practical questions, it is also usually true that fighting the debt collector will pay off very well. For example, if they’re suing you for $5,000, it’s a fair bet that they have already damaged your credit, and they are obviously trying to get at least $5,000 from you. If you defend yourself, you can save the $5,000 and repair your credit: what hourly rate would that be if it took you 50 hours of your time? $100/hour.

And the amount at stake is often much more than $5,000, and the time required to defend often much less than 50 hours, but you will have to make your own estimates of these things.

What if you Really Think you Owe the Money?

We get this question a lot because for most people, debt lawsuits are not “lightning from a clear blue sky,” as the saying goes. They know they haven’t been paying some bill, and people have often been bugging them about it. So should you still fight?

Yes, absolutely.

And this is because although you think you owe money, you might not owe the person suing you the money, and you might not owe what they’re suing you for. On top of that, and behind our legal system, is that you only “owe” what they can prove you owe – and most debt collectors cannot prove you owe anything. So even if you think you owe, you should fight to make sure you’re dealing with the right person for the right amount – and that they can prove it.

What if you Want to Settle?

If you hope to settle, you still need to start out by fighting – people only settle lawsuits when they think doing so is the best outcome for them. In other words, they’ll settle if you persuade them that they’ll make more money by settling than by not settling. You do that by fighting – nothing makes them think the case is going to take money to win than by making them spend money. That’s just common sense, right?

Do You Need a Lawyer to Defend You?

The answer to the question of whether to fight or not is almost always “yes.” And if you doubt that, consider how many times corporations simply roll over when people sue them – it almost never, ever happens. You know that, right? But even if you decide you should fight, you have to decide HOW to fight. Do you need a lawyer? or can you do this by yourself?

Remember what we said about “most” lawsuits – the lawyers do back up work and have a pretty good idea they deserve to win. Additionally, they typically expect to, and do, spend quite a bit of time and money to make sure they do win. For these reasons, and others, you might not want to handle a typical lawsuit pro se.

Debt law is not like that at all.

Debt Law is Different

We discuss this question in great detail in a lot of places, and therefore we will only touch on it lightly here, but debt law is not like other forms of litigation. It will almost always come down to a dispute about whether certain records should be allowed as evidence. And of course you need not to admit or do things that will hurt you. You almost certainly will not need witnesses, and they probably won’t have any, either. Thus debt law is relatively simple, and people can defend themselves without a lawyer.

We can help you do that in a lot of ways.

You will find a lot of help on many topics related to debt law on this site by using our search button at the top of the page or in the footer. And you can sign up for free information by going to this link and signing up. Sign up for Free Information.

 

 

 

 

Sued for Debt Action Steps

Finding out that you’re being sued for debt can be a big shock, and it also puts you at risk for losing the things you have. We have good news for you. You can protect yourself.

Could Anything Actually Make You Glad to Get Sued by Debt Collectors?!

It’s hard to believe that could happen, isn’t it – that you could actually end up glad you got sued by a debt collector? And yet it could true.

If you’re being sued by a debt collector, chances are it’s coming at the end of a long process that started with missed bills, phone calls, letters, messed up credit reports, worry, and missed sleep at night. I don’t need to tell you how awful it is. And the lawsuit itself may seem like a nightmare. After all, if you lose, you could face new problems: garnishment of wages, seizure of bank accounts, and possibly even worse.

And you can forget about your credit report if they get a judgment, right?

So How Could Getting Sued Possibly Be Good News?

The lawsuit could actually be the end of your trouble. Instead of hanging back and destroying your credit or just bugging you to death, which you can’t do much about, they’re suing you. And there’s a lot you can do about that.

That’s because the debt collectors usually start their lawsuit without what they need to win. If you play your cards right, that may give you a chance to erase your debt for good. In the process, you can take control of your life again.

Imagine how you’ll feel when you drive the debt collector away and erase the debt. You can start repairing your credit report and get back to your life. You can answer your phone without worrying about debt collectors

Finally.

Here’s what one user of our materials said about his experience:

Today I received in the mail an offer “Stipulation For Dismissal With Prejudice”,which basically states the Plaintiff will dismiss their Complaint if I dismiss my counterclaim.  All the examples,logic and powerful arguments presented in your materials helped me beyond belief! I am eternally grateful,and right now quite ecstatic!

Thanks Ken,
Frank from Arizona 

And another:

Just a quick email to say THANK YOU for your well written manual! I was scared to death when I got a Summons and Complaint served on me by a debt collection attorne. I did exactly what you said though, and basically let them know I wasn’t going away.… So I filed a Motion to Dismiss, and that was pretty much it. The Attorney folded like a cheap suit, and I have to say it almost felt better than sex!

Thanks again! 
Gary

These people, and many more, could tell you the same thing: you can beat the debt collectors.

And when you do, it will feel even better than you would ever guess. It will change your life. They’ll never push you around again. You’ll never be scared of debt collectors and their lawyers again.

If you know what you’re doing – and that’s what we teach you – you can probably win the case even if the debt collector actually has or can get what it needs. And it usually doesn’t.  Your job is to make them start looking for those records, make them start losing money and worrying about whether they will ever see their money again.

The trick is to fight. They’re not really set up to fight you if you know what you’re doing.

I Don’t Want to Tell You You Can Just Get Away with It (But You Probably Can)

I don’t want to tell you you can rack up debt and get away without paying, because we should all pay our debts. But these are tough times, and sometimes things happen that make it impossible to pay.

And sometimes those things are the fault of the banks – they have just about ruined the economy for all of us, after all. not having to pay them would only be poetic justice. Although poetic justice can wait – if they’re after you, you’re in a fight that you just need to win.

Find Out More

If you’re ready to think about taking on the debt collectors, look through our site and consider joining us. We can help you take control of your life and force the debt collectors to leave you alone.

 

Requiring Verification – Your Secret Weapon against Debt Collectors

When you get the first notice that a debt collector is after you, you should get an opportunity to “dispute and request verification.” That right is provided by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Click here to get your free copy of the FDCPA. This video here explains why you should dispute the debt and require the debt collector to verify it. In other words, always seek verification  And this video shows you how to do it, and how it affects some of your other rights, because often a debt collector will either disappear completely once you seek verification or will fail to provide verification but still harass you – a violation of the FDCPA.

But remember this does not work if they file suit against you – if you don’t answer a lawsuit when it is filed, you will lose the case. See Bogus Right to Verification on Petition – Dirty Trick! If you have already sought verification but not received it, you might file a motion to dismiss based on their failure to verify.

Here’s what to do if they fail to verify the debt before suing you.

When debt collectors contact you for the first time, they are supposed to send you a written notice of your right to dispute and require them to verify the debt. They are to inform you that you have 30 days to send in this dispute, and if you do so, they are supposed to “verify” the debt prior to taking any further collection actions.

Now, to be clear, we do not think the “verification” to which you have a right under the FDCPA amounts to much, but we do, in fact, recommend making sweeping demands of the debt collector. At a minimum, you may get some materials that will be useful if they decide to sue you. And there’s a pretty good chance that disputing the debt will cause them to go away and leave you alone. I have never had a satisfactory explanation for why this might be, but it appears to be the case. Therefore it makes sense to demand verification when you first hear from a debt collector.

Take NOTE

This right to verification does not extend to law suits. If they serve you with a lawsuit, you must answer the petition or lose the case. You HAVE NO RIGHT TO VERIFICATION ONCE THEY FILE SUIT. But if they have contacted you, and you have demanded verification before they filed suit, then they should verify before filing suit. Failure to do so violates the FDCPA.

Also note two other things: your dispute should be in writing – they don’t have to verify if it isn’t. And while you have only thirty days to make the dispute, they can take any amount of time in providing that verification – it’s just that they cannot make other attempts to collect the debt until they do.

Class War and Debt Law

Class War – How it Applies to Debt Law

There is a class war going on, but is an “undeclared war,” where the wealthy and politically connected are being allowed to do anything they want andtake anything they want, and the poor and working classes are left to foot the bill. We at YourLegalLegUp believe that Debt Collection is a Social Justice Issue, both in who is targeted, and the methods used. If you are being targeted, you can and should defend yourself. Use our materials to start protecting what’s yours.

 

As we often say, around 90 percent of people being sued for debt do not defend themselves. Consider what that means: it means that it’s really more expensive for a debt collector to find out whether it has a good case against you – much less to build it and beat you in court if you fight  – than just to bring cases and dismiss them if things get tough. And that’s exactly what most debt collectors do. Therefore, rather than look for words to scare the debt collector away, it makes sense to build a tough defense that makes them work hard to try to beat you. That’s what the our materials help you do. No magic words or secret loopholes, just intelligent defense which makes the debt collectors think they’ll lose money by chasing you and gives you a chance to win even if they do.

You may know that the value of time worked has gone down quite a bit in the past forty years, while the value of things – stocks, bonds, collectibles, etc., has gone up. As has the cost of living. What that means in plain English is that the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer. This is not some sort of weird accident or fluke of nature. Rather, it is the result of deliberate policies by the government and banks.

Don’t let them rip you off in court.