You have rights if you're being hassled about credit card debt from long ago, whether you legitimately owe it or not.

A New York Times investigation finds that the big banks that own most of the credit card portfolios have incomplete or inaccurate records. They're suing people in some cases who don't even owe the credit card company a dime who were never delinquent in the first place. They're also suing those who were delinquent and paid up, and those who had legitimately unpaid debts that are outside the statute of limitations.

One judge interviewed by The New York Times says that more than 90% of lawsuits where a big bank sues against credit card debt are based on either inaccurate or false information.

But the problem is, we're not going to court to defend ourselves. People get a notice about the suit and get intimidated and don't show up in court. Bad move. You don't show up in court, they get a default judgment -- right or wrong.

If you show up, you have a great shot of winning, especially if the info your bank has is false.

If you're being hassled about credit card debt from long ago, you have rights. If the debt is legitimate, many times you still have no legal obligations outside the statute of limitations. If you never owed the money, or you owed and settled up, show up with your paperwork and present your defense.

You'll have close to a 99% chance you will win just by showing up.

If it is a debt you legitimately owe and it's within statute, the amount they're seek in court almost always will be wrong because they'll be seeking way too much money. You go and defend yourself. Because a lie unanswered becomes the truth.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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