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I owe money to credit cards in Canada. I can't pay and no longer live there. What should I do?

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Need a bit of advice here. I'm a Canadian living in the US at the moment. Since 2005 I have been in and out of Canada, but mostly in the US but have always established residency in Canada, filed/paid my taxes etc. Now, I'm permanently in the US. I racked up almost $18K in credit card debt in Canada on a credit card I've had since 2001.

Until about 2005 or 2006, I had always paid off my card in full. Later on I racked up a lot of debt and the more I racked up, the more Royal Bank kept increasing my limit without even telling me.

As of almost 2 years ago I was in constant negotiations with the bank and then a year ago turned over to collections but I had always managed to work out a monthly deal paying $300 to $500 a month (give or take). As of June 2012 however, I've been unable to pay anything to my Canadian credit card despite not even living, working or owning any assets there. I did have some assets in a business in Canada which I sold off almost 2 years ago and used that to pay off other debts here in the US and among relatives in Canada which predate me being in collections (I also still owe a balance to relatives to this day and have signed/notarized contracts to prove it).

I am at the stage of collections where they are threatening to move my file is going to the legal department and even the Royal Bank won't really talk to me anymore unless it's to pay off the $2000 owed that's over and above my credit limit (due to interest and such). I did manage to convince them to make a small payment in a few weeks and postpone moving my file to legal.

What should I do? I am in the US. I don't and can't work as I am in the middle of legalizing my status here to become a US citizen within the next couple of months. Technically I can't even leave the US until the paperwork is finalized. I don't own any assets and quite frankly my credit score and such in Canada is irrelevant to me.

The people over the phone sounded intimidating after dodging calls for weeks (though several times I picked up and no one answered on their end), especially after I suggested that bankruptcy might be an option for me because I am in too much debt relative to what I own and receive as income. The person insisted that I can't go bankrupt, that I don't qualify for it and went as far as saying "Can you afford to pay the $3-5000 to trustees and lawyers to file for bankruptcy?"

I told them whatever I make is barely enough for me to survive and scrape by. I have nothing extra to give them and don't know what to do.

Would appreciate any help/advice or real life experience on what to do and expect from here on

RBC has a presence in the US and can sue you here. There is also a US Canada treaty that permits the debts of each country to be domiciled in the other.

Sub: #1 posted on Sat, 09/15/2012 - 04:43

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Is this common? To what extent can they sue me in the United States and are decisions actually enforceable? I am technically a Canadian citizen at this point and I have no residency or status in the US.

Sub: #2 posted on Sat, 09/15/2012 - 13:21


I am technically a Canadian citizen at this point and I have no residency or status in the US.

Then how are you here permanently??? ( I do know quite a bit about immigration having immigrated from Canada 20 years fact I just got my US citizenship yesterday!)

What generally happens is that you are sued in canada and then the judgment is domiciled to the US. RBC has both US and Canadian divisions so tecnically they could sue you in the US. How often do they do it?? Dont know

Sub: #3 posted on Sat, 09/15/2012 - 13:32

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congrats soaplady. I travled to the US a lot and found my wife here and we got married recently. I am in the process of adjusting my status in the US. I have a few assets, some cash in my bank account, and i am also in a trust with my family.

Sub: #4 posted on Sat, 09/15/2012 - 14:11


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