Consumer Credit Card Diversion Program

Have you been sued by a creditor to collect a credit card debt?  Are you a creditor seeking to collect a credit card debt?  The Lancaster County Credit Card Diversion Program (“Program”) is a joint effort between public and private sector entities to address the increase in credit card lawsuits filed in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. 

Created by the Administrative Order of President Judge David L. Ashworth on December 1, 2021, the Credit Card Diversion Program goes into effect on January 1, 2022. The primary goal of the Program is to help Lancaster County residents through use of free credit counselors and Court-supervised conciliation conferences to resolve credit card collection lawsuits. 


What is a credit card collection lawsuit?

If a credit card holder (the “borrower”) does not make all required payments on a credit card account, the credit card company may file a lawsuit with the Court to collect the debt. This lawsuit is called a credit card collection action. Once the lawsuit is filed, the Court will decide the case either in favor of the credit card company or in favor of the borrower.  The credit card company cannot attempt more aggressive collection efforts until it has obtained a judgment from the Court.


What does the Credit Card Diversion Program do?

The Program requires a “conciliation conference” before the Court makes a decision in the credit card collection action. A conciliation conference is a Court-supervised mediation where the borrower and the credit card company have an opportunity to work out an agreement. It is called a “diversion program” because the normal lawsuit process is “diverted,” or turned away from its ordinary course, for this conciliation conference to happen.


Who is eligible for the Credit Card Diversion Program?

The Program is available to all Lancaster County residents who have a credit card collection action filed against them (1) after January 1, 2022 or (2) prior to December 31, 2021 where a judgment has not been entered and they apply for entry to the program.  

Participation in this Program begins with the filing of a complaint (lawsuit) against the borrower.  At that time, the case will automatically enter the Program.  A borrower must take specific action to “opt out” of the Program if the borrower does not wish to participate in the Program. 

For credit card collection lawsuits filed before December 31, 2021 where a judgment has not yet been entered, a borrower may request entry into the program by filing an Application for Entry into the Program [HC1] . If a borrower has any questions regarding the status of their case or eligibility for the Program, he or she may call (717)209-3290. 


How does the Credit Card Diversion Program work?

Upon the filing of the credit card collection action, the Court will issue a Case Management Order stopping the legal proceedings while the parties go through the Program.  Once the credit card company files certain supporting documentation, the Court will issue an order scheduling the court-supervised conciliation and directing the borrower to call the Program Coordinator at 717-209-3290.  

When the borrower calls the Program Coordinator, the Coordinator will explain the Program, do an initial intake interview, and may refer the borrower to a certified credit counseling agency. Presently, the credit counseling agency working with the Program is:

Tenfold (formerly Tabor and LHOP)
 308 East King Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-397-5182

When the borrower contacts Tenfold, he or she will be told what financial and employment documentation is necessary for the counseling appointment. The counseling agency will work with the borrower to prepare a budget and a workout proposal with the goal of reaching a negotiated settlement with the with credit card company. Until the conciliation conference occurs, the borrower will continue to work with the credit counselor and the credit card company to reach an agreement. 

If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the borrower must attend the conciliation conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse. A conciliation conference is a face-to-face meeting between the credit card company and the borrower.  The goal of the conciliation conference is to reach a workout solution or payback agreement, before a neutral, court-appointed representative, to prevent the credit card collection action from resulting in a legal judgment against the borrower.  If the case is not settled before or at the conciliation conference, the Court may remove the case from the Program and allow the action to continue to judgment.  


What happens if the borrower fails to appear? 

If the borrower fails to appear at the conciliation conference, the automatic stay will be lifted, and the case will proceed through the normal lawsuit process.  This may result in the credit card company obtaining a judgment against the borrower and possibly the placement of liens on the borrower’s personal and real property in Pennsylvania.


What are responsibilities of the credit card company/debt owner?

The credit card company must file certain documents with the Court as required by the Administrative Order and must participate in meaningful negotiations with the borrower’s credit counselor and/or legal counsel to resolve the credit card collection action.

Counsel for the credit card company must attend the scheduled conciliation conference with knowledge of the case and a willingness and ability to reach a resolution.  A credit card company that fails to follow the requirements of the Program or fails to appear at the conference will be sanctioned by the Court and may have its case dismissed.   


Contact Information

Diversion Program Coordinator: Catherine R. Hecker, Esq.
 Lancaster County Courthouse
 50 North Duke Street
 Lancaster, PA 17608
 Tel: 717-209-3290
E-mail: consumerdebtdiversionprograms@co.lancaster.pa.us 

The Honorable Leonard G. Brown, III is overseeing the Program and his staff can be reached at (717) 293-7288.


Credit Card Diversion Program Partners

Tenfold (formerly Tabor and LHOP)
 308 East King Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-397-5182

Lancaster Bar Association
 28 East Orange Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-393-0737

MidPenn Legal Services
 38 North Christian Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-299-0971

Lancaster County Prothonotary’s Office
 50 North Duke Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-299-8282

Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office
 50 North Duke Street
 Lancaster, PA 17602
 Tel: 717-299-8200


Documents and Forms

Administrative Order (12/1/2021)

Notice of Consumer Credit Card Collection Diversion Program

Case Management Order (with attached Exhibits A-E)

Defendant’s Election of Nonparticipation

Notice of Defendant Nonparticipation

Affidavit of Address Verification

Certification Regarding Statute of Limitations

Affidavit Regarding Identification and Nature of Debt

Affidavit Providing Documentation of Debt

Notice of Noncompliance by Plaintiff

Affidavit of Compliance

Notice that Plaintiff’s Representative Will Appear Through the Use of A.C.T.

Certificate of Settlement Authority

Conciliation Conference Report

Notice of Consumer Credit Card Collection Diversion Program and Certification Regarding Eligibility of Action

Application for Entry

Affidavit of Compliance and Entitlement to Default Judgment

Application for Re-Entry