"Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration: A Roundtable Discussion" - August 5 and 6, 2009
For many of us, this request for comment on the subject is the answer to our prayers and hopefully will bring some relief to consumers being victimized by creditors and collection agencies soon. My husband and I lost our trucking business in 2007, after 4-5 successful years due to circumstances beyond our control, specifically the economy. Knowing we were deep into debt because we tried to keep going, we took a proactive stance and consulted with a Bankruptcy Attorney who advised us not to file but to attempt settlement with our creditors instead. Some creditors worked with us and accepted our negotiated settlements but many did not. Eventually we ended up in not only Civil Court several times but in Arbitration. At this point we were still dealing with original creditors. Arbitration stunk mostly because the second time around, the Arbitrator and the Attorney treated us like we were the scum of the earth. They did finally accept a 55% settlement but only because we fought for it. Civil Court was another matter - obviously like most in our situation we also could not afford an attorney so did not know if and/or how to fight these lawsuits. As you can guess we have now entered Junk Debt Collector Hell with the non-stop phone calls, dunning letters, etc. anticipating more lawsuits to come. HERE'S THE PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL and it could be easily solved by disallowing the practice of selling bad debt altogether. For example, using a hypothetical situation, neighbor #1 owes me $50 and tells neighbor #2 that he can collect it for him for a fee of $1, in exchange he can keep what he collects from me but fails to inform me of this so how do I really know I'm paying the right person? In the meantime he may have also told neighbor #3, #4, #5, etc. who all come looking for the $50 at the same time. See what an absolute mess this can become? This is exactly what is happening. The solution is to create specific rules regarding Assignment of Debts from Original Creditors to Collection Agencies, Sales of Debts, and the required notifications of Consumers of the status of the debt. Sending us a couple of credit card statements, and a ridiculous notarized Affidavit from the Collection Agency stating they know everything about the debt and can attest to it is a total outrage against the American people. There also has to be standarized Rules of Evidence across the board for any lawsuit filed related to each type of debt, credit card, utilities, etc. Just take a look at any Civil Court Website and search a Junk Debt Collector's name - you will find an enormous amount of cases, often filed on the same date (pocket filing?) -- although many cases result in Judgments there are a few worth researching because they are dismissed due to a lack of prosecution, i.e. most of those Defendants showed up with an Attorney or perhaps they got the right Judge?