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Can Credit Card Companies Go After You If You Leave The Country?

06/10/2009

Also See: What Happens To My Debt When I Leave Canada?

Also See: Can I Leave Singapore With Credit Card Debt and What If I Want To Return?

We just had this email from another reader:

I have several credit cards with balances on them here in the US. I am about to be transfered back to the UK for work (I am from the UK, not a US citizen), and so will not be using my US issued CC’s again. If I do not pay them off, do you know if the companies (visa and mastercard) will try to retrieve the money once they realise I am not intending to repay it? I know if will ding my credit score here in the US, but I don’t care about that.

John Mathews

Answers – John – let’s go over the procedure of what happens when you stop paying your credit card bills.

  • 1. After 60 days, most credit card issuers report your late payment to the credit bureaus – That is when you credit score gets dingged.
  • 2. They normally sell it to an external collection agency after that – some have in house collection agencies, many start the process of selling their uncollectible debt.
  • 3. You start getting calls from collectors – This is when the harassment starts for most folks
  • 4. Your creditors might sue or threaten to sue you
  • 5. Once you are past the statute of limitations, creditors cannot come after you – could be as short as 4 years in some states or 7 years on others
  • Disclaimer : This is not legal advice but just our opinions.

    John, since you are leaving the country, I doubt that the creditors will come after you. They certainly cannot call you! They won’t be able to track you down. But if you ever get sued, you would need proper legal advice especially if you are out of the country.

    But here’s the issue I have with the email you sent us. You did not say anyway that you are in financial trouble. All you said is that you are from the UK and your company has sent you back. So presumably, you have a job. If you have a job, and are financially capable of paying off your credit card bill, then please pay it off. Society runs based on a certain level of trust. If every foreign worker were to leave and just not pay their credit card bills, then credit card issuers will never issuer to them at all? If you are capable of paying off your debt, then please do so. It is the proper thing to do.

    If you have lost your job and are relocated back and have financial difficulty, then that is another issuer altogether.

    Oh and one more thing: if there is ever a judgement against you, you may have to disclose that if you ever want to work here again.

    Here is another email from a reader with a similar situation:

    I am from Pakistan, i was working for an insurance company, the company layoff more then 1000+ emp, i am 1 of them, this was last year dec 2008. i am planning to go back to my country, i actually owe more then $30,000, i cannot pay off every thing coz i only have $2500 in my bank, i am really in a very bad status, i have been trying to find a job for past 6 months. i have 2 daughter & 2 sons back home, i am not able to feed them or my self, so i want to go back to my country & try to find some work there. so what can i do about the credit card debt. what happens if i don’t pay? can they hold me in Pakistan… or if i pay very slow with that affect my status. coz $30000 is a lot. please help me to find a way out of this debt.

    kevin khan

    Answer: Kevin – for your situation, I would consult an immigration attorney. I doubt you will ever be asked to leave this country or have your status affected if you do not pay your credit card bills or even if you file for bankruptcy.

    I also doubt if you can ever be arrested in Pakistan if you do not pay your credit card bills here. You won’t get arrested here though you will certainly be harassed by tons of collection agencies!

    But look, you have $30,000 in debt and only $2500 in savings. You just cannot afford to pay them. Simple as that. Question for you is do you ever intend to come back here and work? If you do, then you’d better consult your immigration attorney on how your financial situation may impact your ability to get a Visa down the road.

    Best of luck to you.

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