As many of my long time readers know, I’ve spent many thousands of hours litigating credit reporting issues pro se in federal court since 2003. Not being an attorney, living 250 miles from the nearest court in Phoenix and having very limited funds made my life hell.
While I prevailed with some claims and I settled with a number of defendants, I can not possibly advocate that consumers seek justice in American courts. Some judges like Neil Wake are openly hostile and even put their contempt for consumers in their rulings.
A major issue was Capital One’s refusal to report the credit limits.
I lost, appealed and lost again — despite judge Wake’s admission that I documented the damages to my FICO scores due to the missing Capital One credit limits. Despite numerous requirements in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for COMPLETE reporting, judge Wake ruled that due to the lack of the explicit requirement for the reporting of credit limits Capital One did not have to report the credit limits. The 9th circuit court of appeals affirmed this RIDICULOUS ruling without any analysis of the arguments.
HOWEVER, in the end I got what I wanted and Capital One now DOES report the credit limits.
I had published my litigation, the court filings and exhibits and many consumer attorneys became aware of the damages caused to FICO scores by this illegal practice. After a number of failed class actions against Capital One, several law firms filed class actions against the credit bureaus and Capital One finally started reporting the credit limits in 2007.
Too little, too late.
The stress and expense of the litigation has taken a serious toll on my health and finances. I got nothing from the class actions. When the real estate market collapsed in 2007, I was in the middle of building my new home and selling my old home. I had financed the construction with credit cards and I had intended to use the proceeds from the sale of my old home and a mortgage on the new home to pay off the credit cards.
I’m sure you can guess what happened: the old home sold for much less than I expected due to declining values and no lender would give me mortgage. My income almost disappeared as few consumers were interested in my credit services, primarily for home buyers who needed to raise their FICO scores.
In hindsight, I’m happy with the way things turned out.
Washington Mutual increased my interest rate to 26% DESPITE my perfect credit reports with no derogatory items whatsoever. WaMu used my low Trans Union FICO score as an excuse to more than double my interest rate. The FICO score was low due to the large balances on my credit cards and this is a prime example documenting how FICO scores CAUSE defaults.
When WaMu refused to lower the interest rate back to the previous 11% because they had made a business decision, I told them that I would make my own business decision and not pay another penny unless they lowered the rate. They refused, and I sent them my published open letter, informing them of my decision. Of course the other creditors raised their rates once WaMu reported the late payments and by mid 2008 I stopped paying everybody. I was very happy when WaMu went out of business, but of course I realize that Chase took over and nothing changed for the better. In fact, the big banks are more powerful today than ever.
I defaulted on about $90,000 in credit card debt instead of getting a new mortgage.
I still live in an unfinished house, but I’m happy that I spend much of my time in the gardens, greenhouse and hoophouse, growing organic veggies, herbs, flowers, bushes and trees. For more information please check High Desert Permaculture.
I am judgement-proof.
I could have discharged my debts through Ch. 7 bankruptcy and I might file in the future, but that’s not free either and it is time consuming. I am judgment-proof. There is NOTHING any creditor can take from me. Arizona exempts $150 in bank accounts from garnishment and I have no trouble keeping my balance below $150. I am now 54 years old, live 60 miles from the nearest supermarket or bank in the Joshua tree high desert and it is extremely unlikely that I’ll ever be gainfully employed again.
I still work with clients whose FICO scores are extremely important, but hope to soon be able to earn what little I cash I need to survive by selling organic plants and food.
I am fighting Acarta to help other consumers win their debt buyer lawsuits and to have the rules and laws changed for everybody.
I have been sued a number of times for these old debts and until Acarta came along, all those debt buyer and two Capital One suits were dismissed. They wasted filing fees, paid to have me served and filed motions, only to get nothing in the end. Some just filed the complaints and then dismissed later without ever contacting me.
Very few consumers respond to creditor and debt buyer suits and it’s so incredibly easy for them to get default judgments for MORE than was ever owed. So I thought I’d teach them a lesson and let them know that not every lawsuit will get them a default judgment.
Judge Lee Jantzen didn’t explain why he ruled in favor of Acarta on all issues raised.
Unlike some of the other judges I had the misfortune to encounter, judge Jantzen treated me politely. I do NOT expect to prevail in the Court of Appeals. However, I hope that by posting all the filings, exhibits and rulings and explaining the issues on the web as I did with Capital One, eventually all Americans will benefit from minimum requirements for documentation of debts in all state courts even if the consumers never respond to the complaints.
Possible end results:
- A consumer attorney will step in and take my case or any other debt buyer case all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court and prevail. That’s unlikely as Arizona does not have many competent consumer attorneys.
- The Arizona legislature will change the law to protect consumers. That’s also highly unlikely because Arizona is a very consumer UNFRIENDLY state.
- The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act will be amended to require minimum standards for documentation submitted in debt collection suits similar to Maryland for ALL states.
Of course it is also possible that this corrupt system collapses and that these lawsuits become irrelevant. My priorities are the promotion of GMO free foods, encouraging others to start organic gardens and to help people who realize how corrupt our system is with dropping out. I hope that RCredits will turn into a nationwide alternative currency. I am still part of the system, have a bank account and credit card and I still need dollars, but I CAN get by on a few hundred dollars a month.
I continually LEARN and acquire all sorts of skills, from construction to growing food to repairing trucks and generators. It is extremely satisfying to become more self-sufficient and I don’t mind working 12 or 14 hour days 7 days a week. But I have only so much time and cash to allocate to this litigation and I’m not superwoman.
It’s up to YOU to make a difference for all consumers and to stop the debt buyers’ unscrupulous practices.