Woman Sues Over Target Debt Collection

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A western Pennsylvania woman filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Target Corp. and its law firm over the discount department store chain’s debt collection practices, saying false affidavits were used to go after customers who allegedly owed money to a subsidiary bank that issues the store’s credit cards.

Vicki Higgins’ lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of thousands of Target customers who have repaid Target National Bank debts, paid legal fees, lost lawsuits or had their credit scores damaged as a result of debt collections using the allegedly false affidavits.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order to stop the debt collection practices alleged by Higgins, who lives in Westmoreland County, east of Pittsburgh.

Jessica Carlson, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target, said the company had not been served with the lawsuit and had no comment.

Officials with Target National Bank of Sioux Falls, S.D., and the chain’s law firm, Patenaude & Felix APC, did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press. The suit also names a Target official identified only as Adam Grim, who signed the debt affidavits, a notary public who attested to the documents, and several “John Doe” defendants — one being an unknown “officer at Target Corporation who authorized the implementation of the false affidavit factory” described in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said Target National Bank sued Higgins over an alleged credit card debt in April 2009, then dropped the case five months later. The lawsuit doesn’t say how much Higgins allegedly owed, and her attorney, Jeffrey Suher, did not immediately return a call for comment.

But the lawsuit contends Higgins incurred unspecified attorney’s fees that she should not have had to pay because of the collection action which, she claims, was supported by the fraudulent affidavit.

Higgins and similarly situated customers are entitled to compensation because, she claims, the notarized debt affidavits prepared by Grim claim that he has personally reviewed the customers’ records on behalf of the bank. But the lawsuit contends that in Higgins’ case, “Grim didn’t review any records prior to allegedly executing the affidavit.”

Higgins also argued in the lawsuit that believes other Target customers were treated in a similar fashion.

Instead, the affidavit was one of hundreds rubber-stamped by Grim which, the lawsuit contends, is illegal because the affidavits are used to coerce customers, or convince courts to enforce the debt, under the false impression that the financial information contained has been reviewed by the bank.

“TNB took the false and misleading affidavits and utilized them to secure judgments against hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of alleged debtors,” the lawsuit said, allegedly violating federal racketeering and Pennsylvania’s fair credit laws.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Ben

    Wow, just pay your bills lady. Thanks though, the rest of us will have a great time paying that off for you in the form of higher interest and prices.

    • jimmy

      If a regular person had done what Target is claimed to have done they would be in jail for fraud. Why do you condone Target breaking the law.

  • Free Load Er

    Well Lady “Pay Your Damm Bill’s” and you wouldnt have this problem, If you dont have it, dont spend it……. That whats wrong with people these days. Now she’s just looking for another handout or a way not to pay. Kinda funny how you didn’t pay your bill the first time, now your going to sue somebody for coming to collect and get whats theirs. You should have to pay double for. Pay your debt, then pay it iagain for being stupid!

  • Sighs

    Maybe you live a nice life, but maybe her husband died, or she got sick or she had a kid with cancer and fell back on payments. You probably need a little taste of real life before you call someone stupid. Maybe you are from the tea party and your bumper sticker reads “palin”

    • Ginger Shepla

      Signs, maybe you shouldn’t be so judgemental. Maybe you should realize that some people even with hardships don’t demand that others pay their way. It appears you like to use sterotypes for people you disagree with.

  • red

    it does not matter Sighs. pay your damn bill

  • Sighs

    OK. If you want to crucify the lady for noy paying her bills, fine. I am sure you have paid 100% of your bills on time. She found a bug in the system and she’s going to profit out of it.

  • tru norse

    I’m all about paying the bills but if the “system” public or private are going to falsify, cheat, misguide the consumers then i’m gonna fight it. and so should every citizens/consumers. why would you let them take you on your other side?

    • Manny L

      Hear you on this one.
      As a FYI – 3 years ago someone swiped our ID’s and became “us” in several states. We discovered it when we started receiving collections calls here in the TC’s from you guessed it – Target and Capital One among others. Turns out we had accounts “opened” in different states at different addresses….we’ve only lived here in the same house for 37 years folks.
      Long story short – with all but the great Target and Capital One things were resolved and closed within a month. It’s now 34 months since the first call came from the Target folks – and the thing is still going around and around in circles. They resolve and a new moron calls and starts it anew the following month.
      We have a system that’s broken and out of control. And good for her if she can force some things to get better. Do it

      • Customer service is not fun.

        So Manny, the “moron” that you are talking about is personally calling you and is not doing this as a job huh? People need to realize that this is a JOB, these people that call have a computer that dials these #s and they have info that has been given to them from the company. Maybe the moron is not on the other end of the phone but on your end. Maybe people should open their eyes and try to use what little brain power they have to understand that the person that is calling you has just as much interest in talking to the “morons” that they do as you have in talking to them. I think it should be mandatory for people to work in a customer service or collections job before they talk about the people that have the jobs. I spent 3 years in customer service dealing with rude idiots like you who yell at you as they are asking the company to make an exception for them such as removing a late fee. Walk a mile in their shoes and maybe then you can speak. Until then, maybe you should just talk (and key word is talk) to these people like they are fellow humans.

      • Joy

        Manny, I’m sorry to hear about you being the victim of Identity theft. It seems the thieves are always one step ahead of the authorities. Until your posting, I could not figure out what this lawsuit was all about. These companies who hound people unjustifiably should be charged with stalking and harrassment. I hope your issue gets resolved quickly, and hopefully the authorities will get smart about identity theft. BTW: I formatted my credit cards so when I make a purchase the computer tells the cashier to check my ID. Do you know how many times I’m asked for my ID? Never.

    • Mark

      Well, the lady didn’t pay her bills, so she is evil. Target is in the right breaking the laws because she owed money, which is the ultimate sin. I think we’d all be a lot happier if we brought back indentured servitude and debtors prisons. How can we tolerate people defaulting on debt? I mean if you get cancer, but your deductibles are too high and you can’t work anymore and that debt you had every intention of paying is now beyond reach… It is perfectly reasonable that a company do everything short of kill you to collect.

      Maybe I missed something, but not paying a debt is not illegal. Falsifying legal documents is. How can anyone side with the criminal just because they have more money.

  • Jane

    Check the article link at Bring Me the News. She didn’t owe the money. She hadn’t run up debt. She was clear but Target kept at her. I would have done the same thing she had to do, hire a lawyer to clear the mess up. Target was at fault, not her, but she ended up paying for their mistake.

    I also agree with Manny L. Keep checking your credit report. Instead of getting all three at one time, stretch them out over the year. The bad guys are very inventive about how they do their crimes. Be very careful if a spouse dies, they read the obits and can run up $$$$ before you are aware of it because you are dealing with others things at the time. Lawyers aren’t cheap but are necessary to resolve this problem, but once a name (or similar name) is in the system is doesn’t seem to stop.

  • sara lovelace

    I was in so much debt it felt like a prison with no escape. I was being harassed by creditors on a daily basis. A friend suggested I try Stop Collection Calls. They were very helpful and took care of everything.

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