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What will happen if you do not pay your credit cards?

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  • The question of what "will" happen is not one that can be answered because there are numerous avenues a creditor can take. However, we can say what is likely to happen. First, they will report your late payments to the credit agencies and damage your credit rating (in addition to their late fees of course). Then, when the delinquency reaches a certain point (180 days is common) their GAP accounting rules require that they realize the loss and charge the debt off. This charge off also goes on your credit. A charge off essentially means they have tried to get their money back but have exhausted reasonable attempts. At this point they can take you to court to sue you for a judgment and maybe garnish your wages, or simply send you to a collection agency who will hound you. Court time costs money, so you're more likely to see option number 2. Many states have time limits on debt collection, you may want to check the laws in your area. If these consequences don't sound so good, call the card company and negotiate a lower rate and payment, offer to settle the account for a partial amount (you may have to borrow from friends or family to get the cash to do this) or meet with a bankruptcy lawyer to discuss chapter 7 or 13 protection.
  • Adding to the above answer: 1. When a lender sues a consumer for a defaulted credit card or loan, they may also seek compensation through the judgment for their attorney fees and associated court costs to be paid for by the consumer. So, in that context, it would not expensive for the lender to take the consumer to court. 2. There are no "time limits on debt collections". HOWEVER, there ARE "statutes of limitation" laws but these pertain to the how long a creditor has (in years) to SUE a consumer for the unpaid debt. If the statute in your state is 6 years, and you haven't paid on the debt in 7 years, you may still be contacted to pay the bill but the creditor can take no action if you do not. Also important to note is that the statue term BEGINS with the date of the LAST PAYMENT the consumer made, not the date that the line of credit was first opened. Certainly, it would seem rather stupid for a lender or debt purchaser to attempt to collect on a debt that is no longer showing up on a credit report and for which the lender has no power to force repayment via the courts, but it does happen. 3. Finally, laws vary state to state on the number of years before a statue expires as well as what specific action a lender may take, if any, to force repayment of a debt through a civil judgment. 4. "Written-off" and "charged-off" are not the same thing and it is helpful to know the difference. Charged-off means the account has gone 180 days (approx. 6 months) without a payment, the account will have been closed down and, most likely, the balance is now due in full to the lender. While it is still possible to negotiate a monthly repayment of the debt, the lender is not legally required to do so and can demand the full outstanding balance be paid immediately. Written-off accounts have been reported as a loss for the lender as unrecoverable. If an account is written-off by the lender, they may report this to the IRS and you may become responsible for taxes on the unpaid balance. Finally, I am not an attorney and am not offering legal advice. While there is helpful information on line, the best thing to do is to consult with a LOCAL attorney in your area (and I stress local to you...not a debt negotiation company who happens to have an attorney affiliated with them).
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