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QUESTION: Hi Mr. Shear:

I am being sued by Unifund. Unifund claims that they were assigned a defaulted credit card I once had. Unifund sued me in Buffalo City Court. However, I live in Niagara County, NY.

I read that a debt collector has to sue someone in the county they live in. Is that correct? Thank you for your time. I live in New York State.

ANSWER: Good question. A debt collector's lawsuit must comply with state venue rules. In addition, the collection action should comply with the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), and also with Federal Trade Commission and state deceptive practices standards that similarly limit proper venue.

The FDCPA requires that any debt collector bring a collection action only in the judicial district in which the consumer signed the contract or resides at the time of the debt collection lawsuit. The judicial district refers to the state district and not the federal district.

The FDCPA provision applies to collection actions brought by debt buyers (such as Unifund) and also by collection attorneys and collection agencies bringing the court action on behalf of a creditor.

If you have any additional questions please ask.

Jason A. Shear, Esq.
Attorney at Law
NY Consumer Attorney
(716) 566-8988
www.jasonshearlaw.com

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Mr. Shear:

Thank you for that great answer! I have one more follow up question. It is possible I signed the contract in Erie County, NY when the account was opened up. Does that make a difference? Thank you!

Answer
Although a debt buyer such as Unifund can sue where a consumer signs a contract, if the collector is not suing on the contract and does not present the contract in evidence, the debt collector would be limited to suing in the judicial district where the consumer/defendant presently resides. Which in your case would be Niagara County, not a court in Erie County such as Buffalo City Court.

If a collection action is brought in an improper venue, violating the FDCPA, you would have an action for actual and statutory damages and attorney fees.

Hope this answers your question. If you need additional help please contact me.

Jason A. Shear, Esq.
Attorney at Law
NY Consumer Rights & Debt Defense Attorney
Phone: (716) 566-8988
www.jasonshearlaw.com

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Jason Shear, Esq.

Expertise

I can answer questions for residents of New York and New Jersey regarding creditor harassment claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA); credit reporting errors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); debt collection defense/credit card defense; student loan law; and consumer class actions. I can also answer questions relating to consumer debt defense/collection agency defense, specifically pertaining to consumers being sued or harassed by collection agencies or NY collection attorneys. If you live in New York and have been contacted or sued by firms such as: Mel Harris & Associates, Forster & Garbus, Rubin & Rothman, Choi Law Office, Lacy Katzen, Malen & Associates, Solomon & Solomon, Daniels & Norelli, Cohen & Slamowitz, Pressler & Pressler or others; give us a call at (716) 566-8988.

Experience

I have obtained settlements for consumers in NY and NJ under the FDCPA and FCRA. I have successfully defended consumers who were sued by collection agencies/debt purchasers in the New York State courts.

Organizations
National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) Law Offices of Jason Shear Consumer Attorneys 3957 Main Street, Second Floor Buffalo, New York 14226 (716) 566-8988

Education/Credentials
BA/BS, Accounting & Political Science, Hunter College. Juris Doctor, Univ. at Buffalo Law School. LLM (Criminal Law), University at Buffalo.

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