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I had been a customer with bank of America for over 20 years (I think I started with chemical bank) and had a 70k unsecured line of credit with 35k used at prime (then 9.99) with a spotless credit history. I decided to take advantage of their ‘go green’ initiative and switched to paperless billing. I had my checking account setup to pay a fixed amount each month 10 days prior to the due date equal to the minimum payment due amount. Everything went smoothly for over a year until several years ago after a medical issue in February I noticed my checking account lower than usual and found that the bank of America payments had nearly tripled. I downloaded all my statements and found that attached to the previous October statement was a letter saying that they would be raising all accounts to 24.99. The letter said that if you disagreed you could notify them in writing within 60 days and they would freeze your account at it’s current rate and you could continue to pay until closed. I called their customer service number and explained my situation. Although they were very nice they said that there was nothing that could be done at that point (this was when the banks were in crisis). I explained my situation and offered to provide medical documentation regarding my situation at the time but they said there was nothing they could do. They asked how much I could pay per month and I told them the amount I had been paying but with their substantial increase in interest that wasn’t enough and they weren’t being flexible. I had no choice but to continue making my original payment amount until after several months of past due notices my account was transferred to a collection agency. I spoke with the collection agency and again explained my situation however there was nothing they could do either. This was all before the government bailouts and consumer credit assistance programs that went into effect afterwards. Being on disability and multiple public assistance programs I was forced to use the little funds I receive from disability for medical bills and medication and stopped paying the credit line. Last week I received a summons to appear in court in 30 days, FIA card services has entered a complaint regarding the outstanding balance. Being permanently disabled and having to live on several forms of public assistance I called the legal aid department listed on the summons however I was told that the small amount of disability I receive each month disqualified me from receiving their services. I have no assets as my debt far outweighs any value of my possessions and don’t have any funds available to hire an attorney to represent me. I need help regarding my options at this point, I would pay them if I had funds but I do not so I don’t know what to do and I don’t know what happens to you in court in a situation like this. I had contacted a credit counselor back when I couldn’t find a resolution with the collection agency but I believe I was told I needed multiple debt and since I have little or no income or assets they couldn’t mediate anything. Please help with any advice you can give, I’m sure things have changed since this began and I’m hoping someone knows where I can turn. This is the first thing in over 30 years that I have had to default on, it has ruined my clean credit history, and has also caused amex to substantially reduce my credit line that I need for emergencies. Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

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