A newly reported case suggests a need for caution in attempting to negotiate with credit card lender … and the lenders need to be cautious as well. In Citibank (South Dakota) NA v. Perz, 191 Ohio App.3d 575, 2010-Ohio-5890, a lawyer sent a proposed settlement letter to a credit card company with a check for less than the amount due, saying that they should return the check if the offer was not accepted. The company cashed the check and kept on collection. The case reveals three lessons: (1) Credit card agreement these days say they can cash “paid in full” checks but continue to collect if the account is not really paid in full. (Normally, you can’t have an enforceable accord and satisfaction with a “paid in full” check if the account is not in fact paid in full or not disputed in good faith.) (2) Credit card companies may have a hard time proving the terms of the credit card (other than the debt), because of they way they send their term sheets without getting signatures. How do they prove which term sheet any card-holder actually received? (3) A “paid in full’ check might act as a settlement of an undisputed account if the disclosed reason for less-than-full payment is for the debtor to avoid bankruptcy.
Citibank v. Perz