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The CITIBANK Home Depot Scam


Citiscam
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After reading this site and taking the advice of the experts of the site, I think I have myself in quite the pickle. 

Background:  Over Covid I was put on a hardship plan by Citibank for my Home Depot card.  I was told that would only take place for a few months, then I would have to reapply for the hardship where you could miss payments.  I called and went online and thought I was covered under covid.  I would call into the automated system and it would tell me I had no payment due.  So all seemed well.

Cut to a few months later I get an email saying my account was past due.  I immediately called and asked what was up.  The customer service agent said I was not in fact on the Covid protection anymore and was 30 days past due.  I explained that I had called and went online and it said I did not have a payment due.  She said the automated system isn't right.  I said ok whatever.  As long as my account wasn't reported as 30 days late to the credit report I would just pay the past due and continue payments.  I had never been late since 2002 when I opened the card, nor do  I have ANY late's on my Credit report, ever.  The Citibank agent said they would see if they could remove the 30 day late.  She came back and said no, 30 day late must stay on.  I told her I will not pay another dime until that 30 day is removed.

Long story short, I sent letters to upper management, legal, spoke to every manager I could.  They all refused to remove the 30 day late.  I made it very clear that I would pay any over due amount instantly if they removed it and would never pay Citibank again if they did not remove it.  This 30 day caused a 100 point reduction on my credit score and all my other accounts were reducing my credit limits as a result.  Citibank refused.  I went into default on a $6500 Home Depot card.

I received a collection letter from Hunt and Henriques saying they were going to file a lawsuit.  Based on this board I decided to go the aggressive route and file an arbitration. Boy did that backfire.

I figured Citibank would just ignore it, $6500 wouldn’t be worth their time. WRONG.  They hired Stroock Lawfirm to represent them in arbitration.  They immediately filed a counterclaim against me in arbitration and asked for attorney fees.  I filed a Motion to Strike the attorneys fees and he answered saying Citibank is entitled to them, saying, First, the Card Agreement (at p. 14) clearly provides that Citibank may recover its reasonable attorneys’ fees if an account is referred to an outside lawyer to recover the debt. Second, The arbitration provision states:  “All parties are responsible for their own attorney’s fees, expert fees and any other expenses, unless the arbitrator awards such fees or expenses to you or us based on applicable law.” Third, Claimant asserts a claim under “state and federal consumer collection laws” as well as violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Under California Civil Code section 1788.30(c) (a provision under California’s consumer collection laws), “[i]n the case of any action to enforce any liability under this title, the prevailing party shall be entitled to costs of the action. Reasonable attorney's fees, which shall be based on time necessarily expended to enforce the liability, shall be awarded to a prevailing debtor; reasonable attorney's fees may be awarded to a prevailing creditor upon a finding by the court that the debtor's prosecution or defense of the action was not in good faith.”  Thus, the arbitrator is permitted by law (i.e., Section 1788.30(c)) to award fees in this action should the arbitrator find that “the debtor's prosecution or defense of the action was not in good faith.” 

Though I don’t agree with these.  If the arbitrator does, I probably just tripled my original debt amount with Citibanks outrageous legal fees.

Any advice on how to move forward is appreciated.  Taking the advice of the board and filing arbitration and being aggressive seems to have seriously backfired. 

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52 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

Taking the advice of the board and filing arbitration and being aggressive seems to have seriously backfired. 

The arbitration threat works best against JDBs NOT OCs.  CITI apparently has now joined the ranks of OCs who are not the least bit deterred by the arbitration threat.

Not surprising because CITI has won big awards in arbitration before.

55 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

The Citibank agent said they would see if they could remove the 30 day late.  She came back and said no, 30 day late must stay on.  I told her I will not pay another dime until that 30 day is removed.

Your legal basis for that demand was what?  According to the terms and conditions of the card agreement NOTHING allows you to make that demand.

56 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

I made it very clear that I would pay any over due amount instantly if they removed it and would never pay Citibank again if they did not remove it.  This 30 day caused a 100 point reduction on my credit score and all my other accounts were reducing my credit limits as a result.  Citibank refused.  I went into default on a $6500 Home Depot card.

So you tanked your credit and defaulted on a card over this one issue?  Would it not have been smarter to pay the amount due and bring the account in to good standing and then mount a good will campaign to get the 30 day late removed instead of destroying your credit for the next 7-10 years or more?

57 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

Any advice on how to move forward is appreciated. 

Settle.  NOW.  You have no defense to this.  Basically you cut off your nose to spite your face.  CITI was not required to have a COVID program and to waive payments, interest or reporting.  That they did for a few months dramatically shifted leverage to them in the face of your ultimate late payment.  The second major problem is you relied on automation instead of speaking to a live human.  NEVER EVER assume you always confirm with a real person before you don't make a payment.  The third problem is your open defiance that they probably have recorded where you stated your intent to default unless they capitulated to your demands.  They have the terms and conditions backing them up and you have nothing.  If you don't have a ton of money laying around to pay this at the end I would settle.  

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You must have really pissed someone off at CITI for Hunt and Henrique to hand this back to CITI and for them to get as aggressive as they did against you.

I am going to guess that this started about 9 - 12 months ago. As @Clydesmom stated, they did not have to offer any program and you should not have relied on the automated system. In fact, you should have gotten it in writing. That said, the rational thing to have done would have been to write a letter stating the issue and if they came back and said no, then, while making the account and keeping the account current, filed for arbitration for false representation causing the issue. My bet is that since they would have had no leverage, they would have agreed to a removal or update of the trade line at that point to avoid the expense of arbitration. One letter would have been enough.

Instead you went irrational. You chose to not pay the bill (which gave them the upper hand in leverage) AND you chose to write a letter to everyone ever connected to Citibank so that they all know who you are and it looks like they decided to make an example out of you. It would be interesting to see the letters too because I am better they were less than kind. When they went to collect the money that you owe (and you do owe the money), you chose to get aggressive with them and they chose to, again, make an example out of you.

Now, if you claimed false representation as part of your arbitration claim, you might be able to get through a pin hole opening by proving that your claim was not in bad faith. The arbiters are loath to issue legal fees in any but the most egregious cases. However, you do still owe Citibank the $6550 + interest and fees and will have to figure out how to deal with that.

You may not like what we have to say but you have to admit that you acted irrationally through this whole ordeal so now there is a price you will have to pay.

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@Clydesmom My legal basis for not paying and making the demad to remove the 30 days late was that it was their error.  Based on what I agreed to and what their automated message said, I did not have a payment due.  Had I known I had a payment due, I would have paid it.  They refused to remove false credit reporting.  That I believe would be a breach of the credit card agreement. 

@WhoCares1000My letters and phone calls to everyone were very rational and stated just the facts.  I made a very clear request and I believe the request was not unreasonable.  Just remove the error in credit reporting and I will make the account current.  I felt I had no leverage if I continued payments(not that anyone really has leverage over a huge company like Citibank, but..).  I mean how hard would it have been to just say, ok, it was an honest mix up and Citibank did not make it clear you owed a payment, we will remove that 30 day late.

I guess if you both think I'm screwed, I will also need to find some sort of technicality in discovery or procedural.  Though I thought my error in reporting to credit bureaus was a good defense before it was torn apart by you 2 :(  I wasn't expecting that.  It was honestly why I stopped paying.  And If it docked my credit score 100 points, how much worse could a default be. The answer is I had a 730(no lates ever), it went down to a 630 on the false Citibank 30 day late.  Now it is 589.  630 and 589 are both crap.  

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1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

Based on what I agreed to and what their automated message said, I did not have a payment due.  Had I known I had a payment due, I would have paid it.

What physical i.e. written proof do you have of any of this?  Absent something in writing changing the terms of the card agreement you are out of luck.

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

They refused to remove false credit reporting.  That I believe would be a breach of the credit card agreement. 

Arguments you could have easily made had you not thrown a toddler temper tantrum screeching you refused to pay until they did what you want.  The problem you have is there is NOTHING in the card agreement that excuses you from paying until you get your way.  

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

I felt I had no leverage if I continued payments(not that anyone really has leverage over a huge company like Citibank, but..).

You did have leverage until you refused to pay.  Then you gave it away.  LITERALLY.

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

I mean how hard would it have been to just say, ok, it was an honest mix up and Citibank did not make it clear you owed a payment, we will remove that 30 day late.

How hard would it have been to make the minimum payment and then tilt at the windmill?  It is head shaking confusing why you would trash your entire credit rating and other accounts instead of making one payment when you KNOW the creditor has the leverage once you miss ONE payment.

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

Though I thought my error in reporting to credit bureaus was a good defense before it was torn apart by you 2 :(  I wasn't expecting that. 

We didn't tear you apart.  We gave you a dose of reality.  It was clear from your post "CITISCAM" (when there is no scam) that you are wearing a super hero cape and believe to the core of your soul you have them dead to rights.  Did you really think it was going to be a cake walk and the arbitrator was going to applaud your stand against the man?  

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

It was honestly why I stopped paying. 

I have to quote a Judge I heard at the beginning of the recession.  "There is no legal defense to not paying.  While your circumstances of job loss, death in the family, illness, etc. are emotional and distressing they are not legal defenses to not paying.  The law is clear:  if you have not paid I have to find for the Plaintiff."  As colloquial as you believe your letters were I have to side with @WhoCares1000that they were likely laden with sarcasm and dripping with disdain for their refusal to bend to your demands.  CITI will use them against you for certain.

1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

how much worse could a default be.

You are about to find out exactly how much worse it will be.  The FICO score is the least of your problems.  

3 hours ago, Citiscam said:

I probably just tripled my original debt amount with Citibanks outrageous legal fees.

If you filed in JAMS by the time this is over the arbitration fees will be between $50k and $100k and CITI's attorney fees will be at least $50k if not more.  If they prevail in their assertion that your claim was not in good faith then you turned a $6500 debt in to potentially $150-250k.  I reiterate:  SETTLE.

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@Clydesmom Have you ever worked for Citibank? You sound very partial to them.  In my research I found that they have tons of complaints for false reporting credit.   It's all over the internet.   There is a clause in the agreement about credit reporting and it says that if you don't agree, they will research it, and if they still don't agree, the final results are that they "will tell you that".  Oh thanks Citi, very kind of you.  So in my opinion they breached the agreement by false reporting, I breached until we could find an understanding or communicate further on their breach of false reporting.  They "let me know' then stopped communicating.  And as far as a separate contract for Covid, no, there was no written separate contract for covid.  It was verbal by the customer service agent. Yes, I am pissed that 'the man' false reported and do not think their breach goes unexcused.  Obviously they have the upper hand because they are a billion dollar company.  I thought this site was kind of a 'fight the man' site.  Apparently I was wrong.

If anyone else has some suggestions, please let me know.  Though I do appreciate your feedback @Clydesmom and I agree with a lot of it. 

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"There is a clause in the agreement about credit reporting and it says that if you don't agree, they will research it, and if they still don't agree, the final results are that they "will tell you that".  

Looks like they keep their end of the bargain.  

Maybe he is just young, I was once, bought a condo top floor had roof leak every time it rained. The HOA was responsible to fix. 

So like a young person not wise to the ways of the world I did what I thought would get my roof fix.  I refused to pay the condo fee. They added late fees I keep complaining about roof. Before I knew it my condo was up for auction at the courthouse.  

Fortunately, my mortgage company bail me out adding the cost to back of loan.  Luckily,  I was bailed out. HOA won lawsuit against builder and roof was properly replaced the following year. 

Ended up making over 100K when I sold it.

 

 

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

@Clydesmom Have you ever worked for Citibank? You sound very partial to them.  In my research I found that they have tons of complaints for false reporting credit.   It's all over the internet.   There is a clause in the agreement about credit reporting and it says that if you don't agree, they will research it, and if they still don't agree, the final results are that they "will tell you that".  Oh thanks Citi, very kind of you.  So in my opinion they breached the agreement by false reporting, I breached until we could find an understanding or communicate further on their breach of false reporting.  They "let me know' then stopped communicating.  And as far as a separate contract for Covid, no, there was no written separate contract for covid.  It was verbal by the customer service agent. Yes, I am pissed that 'the man' false reported and do not think their breach goes unexcused.  Obviously they have the upper hand because they are a billion dollar company.  I thought this site was kind of a 'fight the man' site.  Apparently I was wrong.

If anyone else has some suggestions, please let me know.  Though I do appreciate your feedback @Clydesmom and I agree with a lot of it. 

False reporting does not constitute a breach of contract unless credit reporting procedures are a material part of the contract.  Failure to abide by the terms breaches a contract.

In this case, the proper procedure is outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  A dispute would be filed with the credit reporting agencies (CRAs). Proof of the inaccuracy should be included with the dispute. In the event the disputed item is verified, one can then dispute with the creditor.

If one has proof the disputed item is inaccurate and the creditor refuses to correct or delete it, the next step is to contact a consumer attorney for possible violations of the FCRA.  Usually, proof of the inaccuracy from the consumer would result in correction of that inaccuracy and would be much less costly than the litigation or arbitration over a defaulted debt.

 

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16 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

@Clydesmom Have you ever worked for Citibank?

Nope.  40 years in healthcare.  However have had to rebuild my credit twice and learned a lot in the process.

17 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

In my research I found that they have tons of complaints for false reporting credit.   It's all over the internet.

None of which is admissible in court or arbitration.  It is merely the rantings of unhappy customers on the internet.  Keep in mind that MOST of what consumers believe is false reporting is not.

18 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

So in my opinion

And there is the problem.  YOUR opinion carries no weight legally.  You need case law even in arbitration to back up your assertion that their information is false. 

19 minutes ago, Citiscam said:

I thought this site was kind of a 'fight the man' site.  Apparently I was wrong.

When you have a dog in the fight it is. Unfortunately sometimes the better and cheaper option is to settle. Sites like this are also based upon dealing with junk debt buyers NOT original creditors. If you can't convince us how are you going to convince a professional arbitrator?  My suggestion is if you plan to take the same middle school temper tantrum but I am always right attitude with the arbitrator to get your checkbook and pen ready.  As for why no one else is rushing to offer you assistance:  generally once a poster shows their true colors of arguing they are right despite what our experience tells us we avoid the thread.  Good luck.  You will need it.

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OK, I doubt many posters in this board work for Citibank. There might be lurkers from Citibank but they would stay as lurkers rather than post in an official capacity because of the legal issues involved.

As for sticking it to the man, that has different meaning to different people. Some people stick it to the big banks by refusing to purchase their products which is certainly a legal and moral method (in other words, refusing to do business with said company). In the case of this board, sticking it to the man means that we are disagreeing with the idea of an organization purchasing a debt for 5 cents on the dollar and then trying to collect the whole dollar. It does not mean that we think that refusing to pay someone that you rightfully owe because you think they did you wrong.

Also, the way you came at this issue on this board suggests that you were less than cordial in dealing with Citibank on the phone and through letters.

The deal is this, you should have known the end date and when you would have to resume payments without an automated system. If the forbearance was first offered in April 2020, that would mean that the April, May, and June payments were not required and you would have to start paying again (or get another forbearance) in July 2020. Most late elementary or early middle school students would be able to calculate that. Even so, when the automated system failed, you went off the rails and refused to pay which was the wrong course of action. You then sent letters so that everyone in the Citibank organization would know who you are. So when the 6 months of non-payments was up and the account went into charge off, they sent it to lawyers rather than sell it. You again, decided to go offensive and start arbitration rather than reading the full arbitration post which would have had a comment like "A bad case in court is a bad case in arbitration." I know it is there along with the warning about using this with original creditors vs Junk Debt Buyers. When you did that, Citibank, fully knowing who you are, decided to go all in to make an example out of you.

Notice that everyone that has commented here has told you that you have gone about this wrong and are about to pay a huge stupid tax as a result. That should make you step back and think that there maybe is something in what we are saying about how you have gone about this.

The easier way would have been to keep the reporting dispute separate from the non-payment. You might have gotten what you wanted in the end. Now, you are facing a possible 5 - 6 figure judgement when all is said and done unless you settle.

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It appears @Citiscam jumped the gun and acted based upon his assumptions before thoroughly researching the issues he had with Citibank.

First, he did not learn the proper process for disputing information on his credit report.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act is public information readily available to all consumers.

Second, he did not learn what constitutes a breach of contract.

Third, consultations with consumer attorneys cost little or nothing.  Such a consultation could have provided the OP with valuable information that may have saved him time and money.  

Finally, there are numerous posts on this site that state arbitration is a tool best employed against JDBs, not OCs.  In fact, in the main arbitration thread, “Arbitration Overview and Strategy (2018 - Most Up To Date Info)”, the author, @fisthardcheese, states:

5.  What About an OC? - If you are dealing with an Original Creditor (not a JDBthey may take the arbitration all the way through to the final hearing. Money is far less of an issue with the big banks, and unlike a JDB, these banks are not counting on collections as their sole source of income. Therefore, the OC banks will proceed with arbitration with much less trepidation than a JDB, so you must modify your strategy and expectations.”

 

 

 

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Well I appreciate the beat down.  If I was dumb, I should be told so.  I did just learn that they did file a lawsuit against me.  I was just never served and was filing my arbitration at the same time they were filing the lawsuit against me.  So I don't feel as bad now.  I would have ended up in arbitration anyway.  They dismissed the suit after they realized I filed arbitration.

I don't understand how anyone thinks they would get attorney fees though.  My case against them, though maybe not as solid as I thought, is not a frivolous case.  I do have damages and I do still believe they breached by making an error(they did tell me I was on this Covid thing when I missed the payment, It was not a mistiming on my part).  They reported false credit information and it caused me damages.  Regardless of right or wrong.  It is a valid complaint.  So I don't see how anyone would award attorney fees.  This guy's claim that if it is to collect a debt, companies are entitled to attorney fees, is not the case in CA to my knowledge.  Otherwise all these default judgements this board talks about would have $10k extra in made up attorney fees. 

If I do chose to settle, what should I expect?  Has anyone been through settlements with Citi?  How much do they want these to go away?  I'd assume they are still gambling on attorney fees and arbitration costs.  Though I think their arbitration cost is only $300 now.

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4 hours ago, Citiscam said:

don't understand how anyone thinks they would get attorney fees though.  My case against them, though maybe not as solid as I thought, is not a frivolous case.  I do have damages and I do still believe they breached by making an error(they did tell me I was on this Covid thing when I missed the payment, It was not a mistiming on my part).  They reported false credit information and it caused me damages.  Regardless of right or wrong.  It is a valid complaint.  So I don't see how anyone would award attorney fees.  This guy's claim that if it is to collect a debt, companies are entitled to attorney fees, is not the case in CA to my knowledge.  Otherwise all these default judgements this board talks about would have $10k extra in made up attorney fees. 

No, reporting the inaccurate information is not a breach because credit reporting was not a material part of the agreement.

However, if you can prove the information is incorrect, it is a violation of the FCRA, but only IF you filed a dispute with credit reporting agencies and the creditor verified the information.  If you did not do that, you cannot claim a violation of the FCRA.

Did you file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies?

Also, check your state laws.  There may be credit reporting statutes in CA law.

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1 hour ago, Citiscam said:

@BackFromTheDebt I sent them a certified mail that was delivered on the 10th that had the AAA notice.  They filed suit against me on the 12th.

Fantastic. 
 

Your situation just got less bad.  I don’t know how much less bad, but less bad. 
 

If I were you, I would go down to the courthouse ASAP, tomorrow would be best, look up the case and make a copy of the complaint they filed.  
 

The biggest question I have is— is the firm which filed suit the same as the firm representing Citi in arbitration?   
 

It appears the Citi arbitration agreement has changed some over the years. When I went against them, I was able to file in JAMS.  Better for me than AAA.  Also, I was extremely fortunate that the law firm representing Citi in arbitration also filed against me, and served me, after I filed in JAMS.  NDA means I can’t tell you the final result, but it increased my negotiation position immensely. 
 

OTOH I had legit claims against a law firm for AmEx, which were different.  AmEx switched firms and let the old firm hanging.  The old firm paid me some money in a settlement, but I still had to deal with AmEx.  Fortunately AmEx had done something extremely stupid before then. 

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@BackFromTheDebtAwesome!  This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to come across as advice.   I know Hunt and Henriques was the first firm that sent me a notice.  But not sure if they are the ones that filed the lawsuit.  I can't pull a copy of the complaint, but will get it asap. 

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6 hours ago, Citiscam said:

@BackFromTheDebtAwesome!  This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to come across as advice.   I know Hunt and Henriques was the first firm that sent me a notice.  But not sure if they are the ones that filed the lawsuit.  I can't pull a copy of the complaint, but will get it asap. 

If H&H filed the law suit, which is very likely, that is worse for your negotiating position.  As in, Citi may be happy to throw them under the bus while they go after you with a different firm.  
 

This could work to your advantage. Depending on state laws you may have an additional charge against Citi as well.  Also, back when I was in arbitration against Citi, the arbitration provision stated I could file against their attorneys as well.  That can muddy the waters a bit with an amended complaint. 
 

Depending on the state laws, etc this could change from a frivolous case in which you would be looking at possibly paying their attorney fees to a solid complaint where you have real negotiating power. Them never serving you reduces your negotiating position but doesn’t eliminate it. 
 

The goal now is to stop acting on emotion and start research on the case from a cold blooded legal approach.  

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@BackFromTheDebt what clause should I be looking at in reference to Citi filing a lawsuit against me after I had already notified them I had initiated arbitration?  This is my first arbitration.  What law does that violate? The more information you can give me the better. So I can research it. Thanks Again!

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It's been over a decade since I've read through the FDCPA statute.  

There is a provision that states that a debt collector may not undertake, or threaten, any action which is not permitted.  

Filing suit AFTER you filed in arbitration is not permitted, therefore a violation of the FDCPA.  You need to read it carefully to find the exact part of the FDCPA.  

One warning -- there is a bona fide error defense.  Even though they violated the law, their defense could be that they didn't know you had filed, and as soon as they found out they decided not to serve you.  So note VERY carefully if they had the case non-suited or dismissed without prejudice.  Upon being made aware that you had filed in arbitration, they should have done one of those things.  If not, you can shoot some holes in their bona fide error defense.  If they non-suited or dismissed the case, then their defense would probably work.

In any case, you are NOT wanting this to go all the way to the arbitrator.  Your goal is to muddy the waters a bit, and get a better settlement.  By having a genuine violation, your filing in arbitration is no longer frivolous, as soon as you make an amended claim. 

The problem is, you need to file a claim against the law firm that filed against you in court, which may not be the same law firm currently in arbitration.  

You also need to make the claim against the OC, but you may need state laws to do so, and I can't help you with the state law.  Perhaps you could file it as a contract violation.  In any case, you want something that makes your claim non-frivolous.   You need to strengthen your negotiating power when you negotiate a settlement.  

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25 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

Filing suit AFTER you filed in arbitration is not permitted, therefore a violation of the FDCPA.  You need to read it carefully to find the exact part of the FDCPA.  

The OP said this:  “Iwas just never served and was filing my arbitration at the same time they were filing the lawsuit against me.  So I don't feel as bad now.  I would have ended up in arbitration anyway.  They dismissed the suit after they realized I filed arbitration.”

They dismissed the lawsuit.  In addition, if Citibank is the plaintiff, even if the OP had an FDCPA claim, it would have no effect on Citibank or its claim against the OP.

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I missed that the case had been immediately dismissed.  

If that ever gets up in front of an arbitrator, the bona fide error defense would almost certainly work.  

I would not advise the OP to make that claim under normal circumstances.  The problem is, the OP already filed an arbitration case which may very well have been an emotional screed about how horrible Citi was to him, rather than based on law.  Now Citi is trying to get the arbitration forum to award costs to Citi, which would be extremely expensive for the OP.

My point is -- if the Citi arbitration agreement still allows a claim against the original law firm, go ahead and make that claim.  It would lose if it got to an arbitrator, but the law firm might be willing to pay $500 or $1000 to make it go away, which could be used by the OP to help pay off any settlement.  

The second part of it is, if the OP can frame this as a contract violation by Citi, then perhaps the arbitration claim can evolve from a frivolous case to a very week but not entirely implausible case.  The idea being that these actions were taken on the part of Citi and Citi didn't supervise their debt collectors.  A losing case, but it could be enough to keep from Citi being awarded costs.

The point is to increase the OP's negotiating power.  At this point the negotiating power is non-existent.  Perhaps this can be used to increase negotiating power from nil to at least something.  Perhaps get some sort of settlement from Citi that would be less than the balance of the loan.  

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1 hour ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

I missed that the case had been immediately dismissed.  

If that ever gets up in front of an arbitrator, the bona fide error defense would almost certainly work.  

I would not advise the OP to make that claim under normal circumstances.  The problem is, the OP already filed an arbitration case which may very well have been an emotional screed about how horrible Citi was to him, rather than based on law.  Now Citi is trying to get the arbitration forum to award costs to Citi, which would be extremely expensive for the OP.

My point is -- if the Citi arbitration agreement still allows a claim against the original law firm, go ahead and make that claim.  It would lose if it got to an arbitrator, but the law firm might be willing to pay $500 or $1000 to make it go away, which could be used by the OP to help pay off any settlement.  

The second part of it is, if the OP can frame this as a contract violation by Citi, then perhaps the arbitration claim can evolve from a frivolous case to a very week but not entirely implausible case.  The idea being that these actions were taken on the part of Citi and Citi didn't supervise their debt collectors.  A losing case, but it could be enough to keep from Citi being awarded costs.

The point is to increase the OP's negotiating power.  At this point the negotiating power is non-existent.  Perhaps this can be used to increase negotiating power from nil to at least something.  Perhaps get some sort of settlement from Citi that would be less than the balance of the loan.  

I can agree with an attempt to have negotiating power.  However, I also agree that the OP has very little negotiating power for Citi’s failure to supervise its debt collectors considering the lawsuit was dismissed when it was discovered that an arbitration claim had been filed.  That could depend upon whether or not the law firm had received notice of a claim from the arbitration forum before it filed the lawsuit.  If it had not received notice, then filing the lawsuit violated nothing.

The OP should also determine whether or not he followed proper procedures for his dispute.  Did he properly dispute with the CRAs?  Did he follow the procedures outlined in his cardmember agreement for disputes?  Does he have absolute proof that his dispute is valid?

The point is that how hard he pushes should depend on his previous actions and any proof he may or may not possess.

In any case, I think Citi probably has a pretty high bar to hurdle in order to prove frivolousness.  The OP shouldn’t give them any (or any more) help to scale that bar.

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On 6/17/2021 at 2:44 PM, Citiscam said:

I don't understand how anyone thinks they would get attorney fees though.
So I don't see how anyone would award attorney fees.  This guy's claim that if it is to collect a debt, companies are entitled to attorney fees, is not the case in CA to my knowledge. 

I think that's right.  It is not the case in CA. CCP section 1284.3(a) provides that:

Quote

“[N]o neutral arbitrator or private arbitration company shall administer a consumer arbitration under any agreement or rule requiring that a consumer who is a party to the arbitration pay the fees and costs incurred by an opposing party if the consumer does not prevail in arbitration, including, but not limited to, the fees and costs of the arbitrator, provider organization, attorney, or witnesses.”

So, unless I'm mistaken, at the end of the arbitration, regardless of how bad it goes, the ultimate award against you should be no higher than the debt amount.

Attorney Fee Provisions in Consumer Contract Arbitration Clauses

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