Back in 2011 JP Morgan Chase brought their collection lawsuits to a screeching halt. One client of mine drafted an answer to a newly filed Chase credit card debt collection suit in late 2011 and the only response she got was that the suit was dismissed “without prejudice.” Chase disappeared into the night, reserving the right to refile at some distant time. But they virtually closed up their debt collection division like con men closing up a long time sting operation. At one point, the number of debt collectors in the division could be counted on one hand (and yes, I have all five digits still!)
Is NOW the time for Chase to start pursuing lawsuits against folks who have old credit card debt with the too-big-to-fail bank? Maybe yes, maybe no. Signs point to yes but it certainly won’t be business as usual for Chase. Just this week, we settled two old Chase credit card debts for debt negotiation clients with ease and grace. And for the amount our clients could afford. This is the first progress made on Chase debts in nearly two years, so it’s extremely welcome. And it got me to thinking.
My gut says JP Morgan Chase is going to take a kinder, gentler approach to debt collection. No more bull in a credit repair shop for these guys. Here’s a brief summary of the back story in case you’re new to the Chase saga.
First, Chase reached a record $13 billion settlement with the Feds over their shoddy mortgage practices. Then, in September 2013, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ordered the bank to refund more than $300 million to millions of consumers harmed by JPMorgan’s debt collection procedures. With a federal precedent, states are now free to roam about the courtrooms.
In mid-December 2013, the Mississippi Attorney General took up the gauntlet, suing Chase bank for violating the state consumer protection laws. This is the second state (CA sued Chase in May) to initiate legal action against JPMorgan on behalf of its residents. I expect others will follow AND JPMorgan will want to build up a new image (kinda like Target, Lululemon and Abercrombie & Fitch are gonna have to do this year). So the collection agencies they are selecting are well trained, polite, compassionate and, well, everything I’d want a debt collection agency to be if I were running one.
If you’ve got any old unpaid Chase Bank credit card debt and you’re looking to get out of debt without bankruptcy, now may be a good time to communicate with your creditors and get the debts paid off. I’d still recommend checking with a bankruptcy attorney in your area first, though, just to confirm that bankruptcy isn’t your best financial move.