Debt Collectors: Can you run from the scum?

As is most likely apparent from the title of this posting, I generally intensely dislike the “Asset Recovery”  industry. Yes, I know they fulfill a purpose: Before I was in the marine industry, I worked in finance, so I know both sides of the argument. Debt collectors nowadays are the “bottom feeders” of the financial world. There are many bona-fide collection agencies out there, and a bona-fide agency will comply with all laws in trying to collect a debt. However, the boom in collection services in the States, especially in the last few years, as the result of the economy and of changes to US bankruptcy law, has meant a huge upsurge in the number of questionable, and sometimes outright fraudulent, companies in the market. With the global economic downturn, I see more and more stories on the Internet every day about people being harassed by collectors, or sometimes even becoming expats for that very reason? But, can you really hide from your responsibilities?

Everyone has had trouble paying a bill at one time or another in their lives. People get sick, spouses die, people get divorced, or sometimes lose their jobs. My first encounter with a collection agency happened when I was 20 years old, after a dispute with my landlord (It eventually went to court and I won). That encounter scared the crap out of me, until my attorney advised me of my rights. Later, as I got older, after a job loss, I went through a period of about 5 months when I got behind on bills, and I learned how absolutely despicable collections people can get. Calling me every 5 minutes, work and home, with auto-dialers. Threats to garnish wages and get me fired from any future jobs. The old jokes about lawyers are nothing… I rank bill collectors at the very bottom of the pile. Eventually, I got back on my feet, and several years later, I was harrassed for several months from no less than 20 different agencies trying to collect a debt on someone else… Who had a similar name, but was dead. The whole experience started because some skip tracer at an agency incorrectly listed me as the debtor. The debt was sold, resold, resold, and resold again umpteen times, each time with me having to file a report with the State’s Attorney’s office. That took over 2 years to finally go away.  There are many legal ways in the States to deal with this type of thing, if you know the law, but this article is about the Philippines… Not the US.

So, you may think, “Hmmmm…. I can move to the Philippines and start all over.”

Well, many years ago, you probably could have done so, before the global financial system was computerized, but that is no longer the case. First off, in the States, there are certain debts that never go away, and can never be discharged in bankruptcy: taxes and student loans are two that come to mind immediately, since you owe Uncle Sam. Child Support payments, too. So, even if you declare bankruptcy, move to the Philippines, and give Uncle Sam the finger, those debts will still be there if you ever decide to return, and, in the case of taxes and child support, they can turn criminal if the IRS decides to pursue you. As soon as you reach passport control, your name will pop up on the agent’s screen, with a nice red flag next to it, and you get to potentially spend some time as a guest in one of Uncle Sam’s fine incarceration facilities. As to other debts, you can still be sued in the States, with a judgment entered against you if you don’t appear. Your credit is now ruined beyond repair in the States, and the creditors will place liens on everything they can find.

Bisaya/Cebuano Language Course

“There’s no credit bureau in the Philippines. They won’t know my past, I can still get credit!”

Debt

Debt

Well, that is not exactly true.    In 2008, President Arroyo signed Republic Act 9510 into Law, granting the SEC the authority to establish the Central Credit Information Corporation (The Philippines first credit bureau). Now, the CCIC does not yet exist (It hasn’t been established yet), but its creation has been mandated by the Government, so it is highly likely that it is coming soon (There are advertisements for staff for the new bureau online right now). Previously, in order to obtain credit, you needed to build a relationship with a bank or other lender, and establish your own credit history. Additionally, it can be very difficult for foreigners to establish a credit history here, and having good references in the United States has proven very helpful to me since I moved here (e.g.: If you paid your electric bill in the States, you’ll probably pay it here, too.)

So, what if you have good credit in the States, but run into trouble here in the Philippines? My US credit report is secure, right?

Wrong again… My Citibank credit card here appears on my US report, as does my HSBC card from the UAE. You see, as a foreigner, one thing you will absolutely have to provide in order to obtain credit here is your passport and, most likely, your ACR card. With that information, any creditor in the Philippines can report your history to the US Credit Bureaus, and the US credit bureaus will accept that report. Banks aren’t stupid, and they know that the credit bureaus exist. Why not try to gain a little leverage should you return home and not pay your debts here?

So, you fall behind on your debts in the Philippines. There aren’t collection agencies here, right?”

There are collection agencies in the Philippines: Lots of them. Most of them do a booming business in operating call centers for US based collection agencies (The Philippines is the global leader, followed by India, for collection calls). So, that call you received at home in Montana likely originated at a call center here in the Philippines. Think they can’t harass you here? Think again! The only difference is that in the United States, you have legal protection and well-defined legal rights. Oh, there is a Philippine Law protecting you here (Maximum fine per violation is 200 Pesos. Think they care about that?), but I was unable to find even anecdotal evidence online of that law being enforced. Quite the contrary, there were numerous stories about people being threatened with jail time unless they paid up. There are also many stories about vioence being used against debtors, harassment of family members who don’t even owe the debt, or people owing debts being detained at the airport by immigration until they paid up. So, if you got yourself into deep financial trouble in the States, it is best to do everything you possibly can to avoid the same problems here!

So, what about my debt now? Will it go away?

Realistically, it is unlikely that creditors will pursue you here unless you owe a very large sum of money. Most people make an attempt at paying their bills, and just get hopelessly behind. Since you can’t be arrested for a private debt in the States, you are “OK” on that front as well, as long as you don’t need to return to the States and obtain credit. If you owe child support or taxes, then “pay up” is about all you can do. However, these things can return to haunt you. If a debt becomes criminal, like child support, you will eventually need a new passport. Guess what? The US Embassy is considered US soil. You could renounce your citizenship, but the Philippine government looks at both your financial history and criminal history before granting you citizenship.  Skip tracing you to the Philippines is somewhat difficult, and with SIM cards so cheap, if you get harrassed, simply swap SIM cards. But the debts are still there. Additionally, when you apply for residence, financial ability and responsibility must be proven for a Visa to be issued. Can’t prove it? Then you are a tourist, perpetually having to move about until you face the music.

However, most expats still derive at least some income from foreign sources while living here, or have significant assets still remaining back home. These assets and cash flows can still be subject to garnishment or liens. In the end, it is just simply best to make arrangements with lenders and pay what you owe. Once you are overseas, the difficulty in collecting debts increases substantially, and they are far more amenable to working with you to pay things down.

Post Author: JohnM (207 Posts)

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.


Comments

  1. Paul Thompson says

    Hi John;
    My ex-wife took out a loan with HFC (Harry Frank and Charlie) Loans in North Carolina in the 70′s five full years after the divorce was finale. Of course she made no effort to repay, and had listed me as her husband on the form, and signed my name. The phone started ringing, letters came in weekly, and they notified the U.S. Navy my employer at the time that I refused to pay. A trip to the JAG Legal Office quickly proved to the Navy that the claim was bogus and they informed HFC.
    For the next five years, the chase was on. I hired a lawyer in California who filed a harassment lawsuit against HFC after contacting them and proving again that I was not responsible for the loan. HFC decided to settle out of court, I was to receive a settlement of $ 6,000.00 and they would pay all legal costs. If I would pay the 1,800.00 my ex-wife owed them. To end it I said yes and received a check from them for Approx. $3,800.00 just to be rid of them I never asked why their check was short. From then to now, I have only a Visa credit card, with a balance less than $900.00. And from that date in the 70′s forward I have never applied for a loan from anyone. If I could not pay cash, I did without. Even after I was making over six figures a year as a Merchant Seaman, I had no monthly outlay for anything, except a night on the town. I guess I should thank my Ex? Hell no!

    • JohnM says

      Paul: What an absolute nightmare! My first wife was the same sort. It’s funny how those who know how to manipulate the system always seem to “get off” with few reprucussions, isn’t it? Being in the military, she could easily ruined your career from a stunt like that.

      • Paul Thompson says

        John;
        The downside to the way I’ve lived, as cash only guy is in the U.S. I’m what’s known as a “Credit Ghost” the only financial institution that knows I’m alive is the Navy Federal Credit Union, of which I’ve been a member for 44 years. Kinda’ like Casper!

        • JohnM says

          Paul: Thé Navy Credit Union is one of the perks of service. One of the only truly reputable financial institutions out there. The days of being able to live without credit history in the States are fast disappearing. It seems you need credit to just do about anything now (Stay in a hotel, buy a plane ticket, rent an apartment, and even get a job.)

          • Randy says

            John, sorry for the late response but you don’t need credit to do any of those things. A debit card will suffice.

  2. Paul says

    Hi John – An interesting side-note is that poor debt repayment by aliens living here in The Philippines could result in deportation. The “could” involves the progression from owing to being cited as indigent or a public charge [The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 (Commonwealth Act No. 613), Sec. 37.(a)(6)].

    Additionally, if debts are sufficiently high enough to cause US Government flags to be raised and info is passed to The Philippines,
    the subject debtor can be excluded from entry into the country and immediately ordered to return to the US [The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 (Commonwealth Act No. 613), Sec. 29.(a)(5)&(6)]..

    As we all know, the Philippine Government employs as may sources of information as it can obtain in order to resolve immigration/alien issues. Even a false claim of a Filipino citizen merits inclusion and review (determination of validity takes time to process).

    • JohnM says

      Paul: Right you are… Those who are here in order to leave debts behind should make certain they don’t fall into the same hole here. Things could get very sticky indeed.

  3. Tommy says

    Very interesting stuff John, But I couldn’t help but wonder, even if banks here request your passport and acr how will the credit bureau get information ? what if you provide a false SS# how are they to check that ? not that i have the need but just wondering ?

    • richard says

      Tommy I am not aware of any bank or other institution that asks or requires your SS# in this Country and why should they. I have never had to produce one and I have banked with over 5 banks here over the years

      • John Miele says

        Richard: It would be likely that if you have a credit card here with a major bank that it could show up on your US report. Have you checked it since you moved here?

        • Jack says

          John,

          Great article. I have a comment to Richard. I have a PNB account and wanted to do online transfers. I had to give my SSN before this was allowed.

          • JohnM says

            Jack: Thanks. As I stated, I have two accounts on my US credit report. As a side note: It can be very difficult to check your credit in the States from overseas online. You usually have to ask someone to pull the report for you or actually request it in the States (It did it using a proxy server).

    • John Miele says

      Tommy: The credit bureaus can match by DOB, name, and other items, not just SSN. Also, with the credit card, I had to show other debts I had, so they had that information. Finally, if it is an international bank, they can run a credit report on you from here, if they so choose (HSBC did that on me).

      • Tommy says

        This is very true John however in the fair credit reporting act if the creditor is reporting to your credit file, he MUST be in posession of positive social security identification in order to report accurately ! just an FYI – there are millions of john smiths born on june 3 1959 ;)

        My point exactly Richard

        • JohnM says

          Tommy: Honestly, I don’t remnember giving them that. Since they are both international banks with branches in the States, they may have asked, but I just can’t remember (Gee, getting old sucks!)

  4. richard says

    My understanding is if your debts are private: Credit Card, Medical, Car Loans, etc… they will be most likely be written off as uncollectible in a few years (since they can’t find you or your assets in all that time)and then discharged from your credit report after 7 years and you can then start all over again with a clean slate.

    • John Miele says

      Richard: They nornally are, but should you return to the States, you would be starting as if you had “no credit”… Not easy in the current financial climate. For large amounts of debt, some creditors could contact international agencies and, should they track you down, they could harrass you here, with little reprucussions (You aren’t in the States anymore). Also, any income you receive from the States (like some pension payments or wages or other income) could be subject to judgements or garnishments before it leaves US shores.

      • Tommy says

        not always true too John, negative credit is unreportable after 7 years 10 years for judgements, however positive credit reporting sometimes lasts indefinetly subject to the reporting institution !

        • JohnM says

          Tommy: You said the magic words, “subject to the institution”. On long-dormant accounts, if they stop reporting, it would have the same effect. Since the FICO score is based in part on activity, that would probably take a hit, too. I just read that FICO revised its criterion for determining score after the new credit card laws, so it’s a guess what will happen to scores, since Fair Isaacs doesn’t publish the formula.

  5. richard says

    Personally I have excellent credit and thankfully this has provided me great leverage in making money over my lifetime yet I also follow your philosophy John as to cash is king and I don’t use credit cards or take loans. Nevertheless, I would have to think of the difficulty of anyone getting tracked down here in the Philippines and being harassed to any degree of success or inconvenience. This is actually a great country to dissapear in as is most of Asia. It would have to be hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to make it worthwhile to be tracked and to what end.

    • Tommy says

      i would say Richard, if you were outstanding in such an amount two things 1 your a pretty unscrupulous individual to start out with 2 for next to nothing here nuisance persons have a way of disappearing

      • richard says

        Tommy. gimmee a break. No company is going to have anyone killed for any amount of money from a legal debt here in the Philippines or anywhere else for that matter. Illegal debts of course that might happen just as there are death squads effectively working in places like Davao for example dealing with drug dealers and users. But again that it ain’t going to happen with a foreigner owing money to a foreign company no matter how much it is

        • richard says

          I’m talking about a debt from the USA or outside the Philippines but the debtor lives in the Philippines. I am not talking about debts incurred here as that is probably a different matter entirely.

        • richard says

          To be clear I mean with debts incurred outside the Philippines but the debtor lives here in the Philippines. Debts incurred here are probably a different matter entirely

          • JohnM says

            Richard: I wouldn’t think a ccompany would bother. Howerver, a quick search online revealed numerous instances of local companies being quite “persistent” in harrassment for local debts. As Paul stated,it doesn’t take much for immigration to be involved in the Philippines, and I read many instances of foreigners being caught in that manner and held until the debts were paid.

  6. Allan Kelly says

    Hi John

    We have had similar issues in Canada. U.S. citizens or people with dual citizenship come to Canada thinking they will escape their debt, usually medical bills. Not so. With the advent of computors, you can’t escape anywhere. They will find you sooner or later.

    As for debt collectors, they rate up there with Revenue Canada, our version of the IRS.I had dealing with them and finally had to threaten them with legal action to get them off my back.

    As they say in the movies, they are “a bunch of forking, cork-sucking iceholes”.

    • JohnM says

      Allan: I know that since Canada and the States are very close, many collection agencies are licensed in both countries. The credit bureaus in each country are also linked.

  7. Phil R. says

    Boy that is a scary situation if the US government got it’s hooks into your retirement check or any other income you had in the states while you where living abroad …..Phil n Jess

    • JohnM says

      Phil: It’s just like any other income… Debtors can file for garnishment too. Think of it this way… Defending yourself while overseas can be difficult. It’s best to try and resolve things before you leave.

  8. says

    Hello

    Very interesting information. I am in a bad way right now. I took out a personal loan while i was in the UK. I borrowed about 30,000 pounds and never paid it back. I have been living and working in the philippines for two years. Can they catch up to me?

    • JohnM says

      Paul: I don’t know much about the laws in the UK, but I do know that they have credit bureaus there. Perhaps John or Chris, who are British, could answer if you email them? My guess is that it is probably the same as the States: The impact is greater should you return, but I am by no means an attorney.

  9. Bob Humperdink says

    Can the creditors in the US find out about my property in the Philippines (it’s just a piece of residential land and it’s in northern Mindanao)? It’s the only thing I have left after filing for bankruptcy.

    • JohnM says

      Bob: Since foreigners can’t own land, I would think it would be very difficult for them to bring a case, unless you owe a huge amount of money, probably wouldn’t be worth their time.

  10. Jon says

    I have been living in the Philippines as a permanent resident (13a) for about 21 years and have 6 children here all in school. (2 in college and 1 in medical school) About 4 years ago I started having some health problems and my income dropped significantly and I had to start using my USA credit cards to make up the shortfalls until I can get social security at age 62 in about a year. I now have about $65,000. in credit card debt from the largest banks in the USA and I am reaching a point where it will be very hard for me to service the debt after a few months from now and wondering what my best options are.

    My credit has been perfect up until now with never missing a payment in 35 years of credit history. I do not like to default on the debt but with my declining health I doubt I will have the ability to repay this amount and my first priority is making sure my children’s needs are provided. I might be able to do some sort of debt settlement and I hope I can do that as I would like to repay as much of the debt as possible.

    My question is whether the 5 USA major banks that hold my debt would be inclined to pursue me here in the Philippines for that amount. ($65,000 all combined) if I were not able to reach an agreeable debt settlement and had to default on the debt. I do not have any plans to relocate to the USA or even visit.

    This situation is causing me a lot of distress and serious depression as I worry about the welfare of my kids. (wonderful, beautiful, smart kids) If it were not for this debt I would be able to provide for them sufficiently with my social security coming next year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Jon

  11. Randy says

    Jon, the way I see it is you have two options. First you can contact a Debt Settlement Agency and through consultation, you will summarily arrive at a number that once agreed upon, the Agency would attempt to settle the debt. I would carefully negotiate the understanding that debt settlement must be an “all-or-none” scenario in order to get you back to a manageable financial status.
    The other option is bankruptcy. At your age, you should already be living on a cash basis and unfortunately and because of medical reasons, your ability to repay your debt has been greatly diminished. Not knowing where your income originates or how much you need to live on, It’s hard to suggest which route to take. Do you have many assets? If you con’t have many assets, I would guess you wouldn’t see any creditors at a BK hearing. If you were 20 years younger, Chap. 13 would probably be more advisable. At this point though, a BK on your record is a BK on your record for 10 years. It could take you longer than that to pay off that kind of debt. Not to mention the added stress as you get older.

    About your credit score for the future…will you really need future credit to survive? If you have no intentions on borrowing any money, then a credit score is a moot point. In the words of the infamous Dave Ramsey, “The best credit score you could ever have is Zero!” He also says “Credit doesn’t create wealth,
    cash does!” and further concludes that credit is not a smart use of money.

    Remember, I am not an attorney and I am only suggesting that BK as an option is not the end of the world as some would have you think. What good would you be to your family if you died from stress related health complications? Please seek the advice of a BK attorney in the U.S. before making any decisions. Your goal should be to get debt free and healthy. I wish you well.

  12. Jon says

    Hello Randy,

    I no longer have any assets in the USA and my assets in the Philippines are minimal. I have thought about the possibility of bankruptcy, but not sure my health and my financial condition would allow me to return to the USA to file for bankruptcy. Also from what I have read I think most states require you to have residence there for 6 months prior to filing BK, and I could not afford to stay there that long unless I could find some sort of work within my capabilities. Also my family would have difficulty in managing everything if I were gone that long.

    If it were possible to file for BK from abroad, that might be a viable alternative, but I don’t think it is possible. So it looks more like I will have to try some sort of debt settlement process. Unfortunately I think I will have to start missing payments on the credit cards before they will consider restructuring the debt, from what the banks have told me. I have been trying to reach out to debt settlement companies but none of them seem to be set up to handle expats in countries other than USA. I might be able to deal with them if I can afford to make the international calls (on my dime), but because of dealing with 5 banks the process may become complex and require an enormous amount of calls. I am planning to call one of them tonight to get more information.

    If any of the banks were to turn the debt over to collection agencies I am not sure I could survive the embarrassment, humiliation and shame that this would place on me my family. I don’t know to what extent they would try to reach out to me here in the Philippines. Thanks much for your reply and suggestions. I am still weighing all the options, but none of them look very good right now.

    Kind regards,

    Jon

    • Randy says

      Jon, Have you checked on filing BK from Guam? It would definitely be closer and cheaper but I have no idea on any residency requirements, but if allowed to do so, I would think if you had a letter from a doctor, an attorney could possibly represent you in absentia. Not that it makes any difference, what province do you reside in?

  13. John Miele says

    Jon: Highly unlikely that US collection agencies would find you here. As long as it is not taxes or child support, they will leave you alone (most likely, since you said it was several cards). Unless you owe a really very substantial amount, there is not much they can do to you here.

    Now morally, that is a different story. BK is tough to file from abroad. Most banks will charge off after about 6 months. Once that happens, your credit is shot. At that point, DO NOT contact them or pay anything. If you do, the clock keeps ticking on the debt related to credit.

    • Jon says

      Hi Randy,

      I think Guam would likely have the same residency requirements to file a BK as most states and I could not afford to stay there for an extended period. We live somewhat near Manila, but out of the city.

      I called a debt restructuring non-profit org last night (they told me my current credit score is 743) and they are working on some numbers for me to consider for restructuring the debt. That would be my preference if I can manage the payments. I would rather not default on the debt as my integrity/self image would take a big hit and I’m sure it would worsen my depression and make me feel even more like a failure.

      Also, trying to skip out on the debt would not be a good lesson for my children, and not how I want them to remember me. So I will do my best to pay it off over time if they will be willing to give me manageable terms. In the worst case scenario I may have to default, but I hope that will not happen.

      JohnM the debt is only credit card debt and I have no other debt/leins in my name. The information you provided is really on point and valuable and much appreciated.

      Many thanks to both of you. Facing this problem now and getting useful feedback is helping a lot with my gloomy outlook, and I can begin to see the possibility of a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel as I work the problem.

      Jon

      • John Miele says

        Jon: Randy gave good advice, but I want to clarify my statement a bit about charge offs…

        Your plan sets a good example, but I want to caution you about after charge off. There are many collection companies that buy and sell old debts between themselves, mostly pennies on the dollar. Once the amount is charged off, anything you pay is normally not going to the person you owe, but to a company to whom you really have no moral obligation to pay. These companies are truly the bottom feeders of the financial world, and by paying them, it normally has zero impact on your credit score.

        About 14 vyears ago, I received a call on a debt from a gas card my first wife had defaulted on. It was only around $200 or so, and I had the means to pay at the time (It was a remnant of the divorce… I didn’t know it existed). I found out that the debt had been sold between around ten companies, and I was being called right before the seven year reporting limit. Basically, after calling the gas company, they told me it had been charged off years ago, and the lady told me that the collector paid $0.01… Anything I sent would start the 7 year clock over again, to a company that I felt I had zero obligation. (I would have paid the original debt holder, but they did not want it).

        Hence my caution… If it goes on too long, the best course of action is to let it drop.

        • Randy says

          That’s good advice John! These companies assume all the risk for those pennies, I say let them choke on it!

  14. Randy says

    Jon, I wouldn’t beat yourself up too bad over it all. After all, if you are in this situation because your income level has changed, so welcome to the global economy and join the millions of people in the same shoes. There are rumors that the FICO system here in the U.S. could possibly undergo some score calculating revisions in the future because of all the bad debt that is affecting many, many credit scores. As you probably already know, most credit card companies will negotiate new terms and payoff balances, but before they will even talk to you about it, they have to be convinced that they are in jeapordy of a total loss. Unfortunately you have to stir up that nest by becoming seriously delinquent to get their attention. At that point, your credit will already have taken the hit. Altogether Jon, times are different than what they once were, so work it out to your satisfaction that enables you to take care of your family first. Sometimes pride must take a back seat to one’s sanity.

  15. mike cowan says

    Jon, your feelings of distress and depression are normal…for an honorable person such as you appear to be. When you originally incured these debts you had every intention of paying them. These were business deals between you and the companies involved. Unfortunately, they went bad. We are all charged a bit more interest (than would be necessary in a perfect world) to cover debts gone south. Randy”s right…family first.

  16. Jon says

    Hi all,

    I received the package from moneymanagement and the consultant is giving me 4 options and seems to be leaning towards recommending a BK. Their specialty is doing DMPs (Debt Management Plans) where they contact all the credit card companies and negotiate much better terms (better interest mostly) and set it up so that it will all be paid off in 4 to 5 years with one monthly payment.

    In this plan all of the debt is paid off completely and the accounts are closed. So there is no charge off and likely not a major hit on my credit score. If I can afford to do this I would prefer this option as I would retain more self respect and all the other reasons mentioned before. (and no debt collectors, judgments, etc) But I am also researching the BK option to see if I could handle that, as it would likely require a return to the USA. If I will have to acquire residency by staying there 6 months it will be difficult. And I don’t know yet what state I would have to file in.

    Mike to be honest, when I incurred these debts I was not certain that I would be able to pay them off, but I was I was in a negative cash flow situation and no amount of budgeting could correct it, so I used the cards as a crutch to try to get me through to early retirement social security. But I didn’t quite make it and the debt accumulated faster than I thought it would. (as often happens with credit cards) Having 8 dependents is a bit overwhelming.

    Thanks much to all of you for the support, advice and kind words. It really does help a lot.

    Jon

  17. mike cowan says

    Jon, best of luck to you with your current, but temporary, financial difficulties. Don’t pay the consultants too much. Others reading this, hopefully, have a better idea of the going rate for these services than I do. Or you’ve already done that part of the homework.

  18. malyn says

    I live in Canada for 11 years now and aside from my home mortgage and credit card that I always pay in full every month, I don’t owe anything else. I really value my good credit standing and would never do anything to hurt it. Unfortunately, today I got a call at work saying she is from a lawyer’s office in the Philippines telling me that I owe them money (HSBC Mastercard). I told her I don’t remember leaving any debt when I left the country 11 years ago. I asked her how much I owe them and she said it is around 2 million pesos after 11 years. As far as I can remember my max credit limit was 25,00 pesos and as I said I do not recall owing HSBC anything before I left the country. So I told her to email me all their information as I want to review it – I gave her my email address. She asked me what information I need and I told her to give me whatever she has and I won’t talk to her until I reviewed the documents. She called my office a few times after that asking to be transferred to HR as they want HR to deduct money from my paycheck. Of course the receptionist just hang up on her and asked me what it was all about. When I told her what happened, she said she experienced a similar scam while she was in Mexico and to just ignore it.

    Anyway, I am worried now what they will do next. I heard that these people use dirty tactics to get my attention and I’m worried it will affect my two daughters and my credit rating here in Canada. My first question is, if I did actually owe them that money (depending on what they will email me), can they use Canadian collection companies to collect from me? Secondly, can they sue me here and will it show up in Canada’s credit bureau? Third, should I decide to visit Philippines again, would I be detained and be forced to pay up? At this point, I am still waiting for their email but I haven’t received anything yet.

    • ina says

      Chances are, it’s a scam. Most credit card companies would settle for a much lesser amount if you settle after a year or 2 of being delinquent. After 5 years, I assume that they’d drop it already.

      2 Million? CRAZY!!!

  19. Brian says

    First of all, what you said about HSBC and Citibank is absolutely true, BUT, they are international banks, so of course it they will pull up your credit information at the bureau. If you bank with BPI or BDO then they will not, nor will any debtors from the states come after you to collect money. I ran from 84K in unsecured debt (not student debt and child support for all you losers who think you can run from this) and never had an issue. Credit report score is rock bottom, but as a business owner in the Phil I don’t need credit so who cares! Moral of the story: you can run from debt if it’s unsecured and if you never need to borrow money from a U.S. based financial institution. Cheers!

  20. shay says

    I would like to ask some advice, I don’t know how to deal with my credit card collectors…

    I left unpaid credit cards in dubai and left the country 2008…
    Currently I got married to a us citizen last sept 2013 and living in the us for 6 months now..

    last night my husband received a call via skype caller and to my surprise it is credit card collector from philippines..
    I don’t know how they were able to locate me, i still dont have documents here in the us, we just submit my greencard application 2 weeks ago, i still dont have no records except for marriage certificate.

    is that how advance the credit card collectors to locate defaulters.. for 5 yrs i was in the philippines no collectors company was able to locate me and for whatever reason they were able to find me here in the usa and called my husband house number.

    Please help me, is this going to affect my green card application?
    up to what extend they can harass me here in the us?
    worst of all my husband doesn’t know about this, can he be in trouble in any legal way?

    please help… i dont know how can i make them stop calling me

    again I need some advice please help!

  21. Siona says

    I have a problem with debt too. I’m not a US resident but I have a valid SSN because I was international student and for a short period I was authorized to work. I got a CC and after a time I started receiving many CC offers. The problem is that I’m not authorized to work in US and without a job (I had jobs paid under table but income was insufficient) I run in almost 20000$ debt at 5 CC. In the last 3 months I did only the minimum payment. Without any possibility of getting a new job I decided to go back in my home country before I will sink even deeper in debt. Now the question: what will happen with me and my debt – I do not have accounts or propriety in US I’m not even a citizen. Also I’m barred to return in US for the next 10 years for overstaying so I’m going never to return.

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