False Affidavit of Service in Mel Harris Credit Card Default Judgment

One abusive debt collection tactic has resulted in the questioning of more than 100,000 default judgments for credit card debt entered in New York courts. The fraud in question is the filing of Affidavits of Service with fabricated details of a date, time and location where a consumer credit summons and complaint were served.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the certification of a class action brought pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. [1]

The lead plaintiff, holder of a defaulted credit card Monique Sykes, is a New Yorker who was sued but never served, and did not know she needed to file an Answer in Court. The credit card debt collector Mel S. Harris & Associates filed a fake Affidavit of Service, and the court ended up granting their client Leucadia a default judgment on Monique Sykes’ case.

Like countless other victims of the bogus Affidavit of Service fraud, the credit card judgment debtor was subject to garnishment without having a day to defend herself in Court.

The Second Circuit’s appellate panel determined Congress had enacted the FDCPA to prevent this type of abuse, and the victims of the tactic were similarly situated such that a class action provided the most efficient way to resolve the epidemic.

An additional defendant in the class action is the process server company that issued the invalid Affidavits of Service, Samserv Inc..

According to the class action complaint, Mel Harris & Associates robosigned default judgment applications filed with the court. Specifically, the collectors are accused of failing to review the proofs of service of consumer debt summonses.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau supported the Court’s interpretation of the FDCPA. They assert the legislative intent of the Act was to stop abusive debt collection that disrupts the financial and personal lives of too many Americans.

If you were served with a default judgment by Mel Harris, let an attorney review the Affidavit of Service authenticity. In certain situations, the dismissal of credit card debt may be possible.

[1] Sykes et al v. Mel S. Harris and Associates LLC et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Case No. 13-2742

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