Can I really go to Jail for not paying Credit Cards?
If you have an old credit card account that has gone to a collection agency, then you’re probably familiar with the harassing phone calls and rude collection agents that follow you every day. Among the threats to ruin your credit or take you to court, however, is the threat that if you don’t pay your bills you can go to jail. Is this really a possibility?
The truth is that it’s not very likely. The United States does not debtors prisons. Technically, your credit card debt is considered a civil matter; it will not be handled in a criminal court. A credit card company nor a collection agency can take you to a criminal court based on this type of debt or any other type of debt that is owed to a private company or individual.
Of course, this fact does not stop collection agencies from threatening debtors with going to jail. While many people will be able to see through this threat, there is a small fraction of the population that will believe these threats and feel forced into paying off debts that they really can’t afford. Unfortunately, this is often done by taking out another loan at a higher interest rate.
There is also very little chance of a credit card company or collection agency winning a case that is based on fraud. They can, however, file a case in court that will allow them to put a lien on your property or garnish your wages. It’s important to realize, however, that these cases are rare. These types of filings require a lot of documentation, and the costs for filing are often not worth it for small debts.
If you owe more than $1000, however, the costs to file are only a small fraction of what can be recovered. For this reason, its critical for people who owe money to collection agencies to take action to take care of their debt before it turns into a huge problem. Debt consolidation is a good way to get these debts paid off and replaced with a payment that you can afford.