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I Got Sued Because of Credit Card Fraud—How I Beat American Express in Court

Hannah Locklear | July 20, 2023

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: A SoloSuit user was sued by American Express, represented by Zwicker & Associates, after her coworker stole her credit card information and racked up more than $35,000 in debt. Even after explaining the fraudulent nature of the debt, American Express still took her to court. She used SoloSuit to respond to the lawsuit and win. Here’s her story.

Getting sued for debt is stressful enough, but imagine being taken to court over a fraudulent credit card debt.

At SoloSuit, our mission is to empower people who are struggling with debt by helping them respond to debt collectors and debt collection lawsuits on their own, making justice accessible to all.

Recently, one of our employees interviewed a real SoloSuit user who was sued by American Express for a $35,000 credit card debt—a debt she didn’t incur. In this article, she shares her story on how she used SoloSuit to respond to a fraudulent credit card lawsuit and win, all in her own words.

The following has been edited for clarity, and the names in this story have been omitted for privacy purposes.

How did you find out about the debt?

“Okay, so the holder of the debt was American Express. So they go through a lot of hoops to get you to pay prior to going to court. And I have been dealing with American Express for years because an old business colleague of mine attached my American Express business card number to an Apple Pay account and racked up more than $70,000 in debt.

“I had been trying to reclaim the debt from my coworker through non legal means, and you'd get a promise to pay, promise to pay, promise to pay... And of course, that never worked. So, eventually, I paid $35,000 to keep my credit in line. For the second $35,000, I thought, I can't afford this. This is, like, $70,000 of money that is not my debt.

“My business was originally based in Texas, and I moved out of Texas years ago, and a lot of these fraudulent charges were done in Texas. So it was clear that these charges were fraud, because they were coming from Texas, but I was living in North Carolina. American Express had my address and sent me the billing every month in North Carolina.”

What happened when you told American Express that the debt wasn’t yours?

“No amount of interface with American Express would get them to understand what had happened. So finally, I quit taking their calls because after 18 months, or whatever it was, I decided I'm not talking to these people anymore.

“At this time, I had been an American Express card holder for 30 years or something, but in all of that time, I never was able to penetrate the system to able to explain what really happened and help them see that it wasn’t my debt, or to even get them to delete and block Apple pay from my account. They could not do it. They either didn't understand it or didn't know how to stop it.

“Maybe it's changed now, but at the time, you couldn't even go to the American Express website and block Apple Pay, remove it. So when you call up the support people, they say, oh, well, there's no way to block Apple Pay.

“So when Apply Pay is being used for transactions, nobody checks it. Unless you're over your limit or there's something else wrong with your card, that card is going to get charged anyway. I learned a lot of fascinating things that way.

“I had never used the phone numbers that were associated with the Apple Pay account, and American Express knew my phone number because they had been calling me for months, or even years. So finally they decided they would sue me.”

How did you find out American Express was suing you?

“Obviously, American Express has the ability to sue you in any state. I live in North Carolina. The deadline to respond to a debt lawsuit is 30 days in North Carolina.

“By the time I received the notice, time had already passed because they had to have somebody come out and notify me. The weirdest part was that whoever came out never even asked me to sign for it, which I thought was totally bizarre. They just handed me the court documents at my house and then walked off. And I opened it up, and it says we're being sued. And I'm thinking to myself, I'm pretty sure they were supposed to get me to sign for it, but there was no signature. I thought, how do you ever prove that I got them?”

The following are photos of this SoloSuit user’s court documents. If you’ve been sued in North Carolina, or anywhere in the US, your court documents will look similar. The first page is a Civil Cover Sheet outlining the details of the case (i.e. parties, case number, court venue, etc). The second page is the Summons document. The third and fourth pages are the Complaint, which list the specific claims against the defendant in the case.

SoloSuit NC Civil Cover Sheet Example

SoloSuit NC Summons Example

SoloSuit NC Complaint Example

SoloSuit NC Complaint Example

What did you do when American Express sued you for debt?

“After around five years of trying to get this money from me, I knew that American Express would eventually file a suit, which they did. I mean, I was not surprised.

“That's when I reached out to a friend of mine who is also an attorney, but not an attorney that would normally deal with these things. And we sat down and kind of went through it. She said, ‘There must be something out there that can help us get through this and respond,’ because at that point, I just wanted to respond to the suit.

“So we used SoloSuit to start my response and found that it was a very straightforward process.

“I made sure to gather all the information from my court documents and communications with American Express. My friend and I really liked the fact that SoloSuit’s software prompts you to include the kinds of things that you need to put into a suit in order to be able to respond and file a response.

“So we went through that, and then I went back and went through it again because I wanted to make sure that I hadn't actually misspoken in any part of the suit. And we sent it back to American Express.”

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What happened after you responded to the lawsuit?

“American Express kicked my response up to their next level of people who then went through every knit, every possibility, of getting paid. And so I went back and forth with American Express for around ten months.

“Eventually, they sent me all the credit card statements in a box. I mean, literally a box of documents. They wanted a listing of the charges that were fraud. You can imagine with a debt of $35,000, we’re talking hundreds of pages. They wanted me to circle each and every one on a copy of the actual billing statement.

“So I sat there for days with my blue pen and circled each fraudulent transaction. Now, if you can imagine what that looked like when I sent it back, and I wrote a note and I said, I hope you can figure it out.”

Why did American Express dismiss the lawsuit?

“So the reason that they ended up dismissing the case is because they couldn't track my phone number to the Apple Pay account.”

“But the most frustrating part is that I asked American Express, multiple times, on recorded lines, to delete Apple Pay from my card. You'll see there that my phone number never appears. And you know my phone number because you've been calling me for years. I've had the same phone number for, like, I don't know, 15-20 years.”

“It was my coworker's phone number attached to the account. I don't know if they ever went after him or not. We're obviously not coworkers any longer, but I don't know if they went after him. And all he would have had to do is change his phone.”

“It worked out well, and I filed right before the deadline. By that time, I had gone through my millions of documents and several rounds of speaking with American Express. And I think the thing that finally pushed it over the edge is when they realized that my phone number never, ever, in all those years showed up on any charge.”

What happened to your credit score after your debt lawsuit was dismissed?

“After American Express finally dismissed the suit, the debt collection part that was attached to my personal credit finally fell off. So it was a very interesting process.”

Why didn't you just cancel your American Express credit card?

“I canceled the card several times throughout these years, and every time, Apply Pay was rematched to the new card. I have all my American Express cards that I canceled in case they call me back up in the future. So now they may have changed that with the whole Apple Pay thing. I don't know. But I can tell you that I am sitting here, even as we speak with two or three different American Express cards, all of which were canceled, and I still kept getting bills before the lawsuit.”

Was it had working with Zwicker & Associates?

“It was stunning, the lack of understanding. And of course, the attorneys don't have any understanding, quite frankly. They're basically debt collectors. Yeah, that's what they are. The system is absolutely oriented to making it as difficult as possible for whoever they're after to refute their claim.”

How did SoloSuit help you win your credit card debt lawsuit?

“Finding SoloSuit was just a huge game changer.

“Without SoloSuit, I mean, I would have had to hire an attorney. Obviously, I wasn't going to pay American Express 35 grand for something that wasn't my expense, but we were able to prevail using SoloSuit’s software.

“Considering that we were in North Carolina, and my friend is not licensed in North Carolina, she couldn't represent me in the case. So me being able to respond as an individual, as the person being sued, was kind of perfect

“But the software itself and the questions that you answer—the way that your software takes you through the process—I think was excellent. It took about ten minutes. It was good because I was able to provide an immediate response to the suit, and it literally only took us one afternoon to prepare the response.

“But I saved myself legal time and legal expense and hassle, because not only would going to an attorney have been more expensive, but it also would have taken a lot more time. SoloSuit helped me avoid jumping through all the legal hoops.”

“And then I just went back and went through it all again to make sure I hadn't said something that was incorrect. And then once I was comfortable that I had answered the questions in a truthful manner, I sent it off and waited for the next step.

“So it was a very positive way to deal with something that had been unpleasant for years.”

You can beat American Express and Zwicker & Associates

Even though this SoloSuit user was sued by American Express, it was Zwicker & Associates that represented the credit card company in court.

Zwicker & Associates is a debt collection law firm. As one of the biggest debt collectors in the nation, Zwicker & Associates knows how to get consumers to pay up. Their streamlined process often involves fraudulent debts or debt that have already passed the statute of limitations.

So, if you’ve been contacted by Zwicker & Associates, there is a good chance that your bank or credit card company hired them to collect your debt. There’s also a good chance that you 1) don’t owe the debt or 2) the debt’s statute of limitations has expired.

If you fail to respond to Zwicker & Associates, chances are you’ll automatically lose your case, and they’re banking on this. The first step to beating Zwicker in court is to respond to the lawsuit.

SoloSuit makes it easy to do this. Our software helps you generate a personalized response to your debt lawsuit case, and you can use SoloSuit to file your case in the court in a matter of minutes.

Check out this video to learn more:

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