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Debt Collector Reacts To Forbes Story

posted on 2009-09-23 by Joel Lackey

  Dear Forbes and Mr. Hawkins, I am a very busy person and have never responded to a published article, but I feel compelled to comment on "How To Outsmart Your Debt Collector." The attitude of, "What can I get away with, or out of because of a meaningless technicality?" is exactly what our society does not need. As the owner of an 18-year-old collection agency, we are swamped with hyper-technical lawsuits from "ambulance chasing" attorneys and debtors who are searching for a way to get out of paying a legitimately owed debt. The number of these suits has increased dramatically over the past few years, and the merit of these suits are typically laughable with absolutely no damage suffered by the debtor. The primary reason for this is that attorneys have become aware of the fact that a third-party debt collector cannot win when sued. It is simply a matter of how bad you are going to lose. Even if you win in court, you have lost big-time in that it will likely cost you tens of thousands of dollars to prove your case. Let's see, settle for $4,000 even though you did nothing wrong and the charges against you were completely unreasonable or fabricated, or roll the dice to prove your innocence and spend $30,000 in the process. That is, $30,000 if you win, and by the way, you will have no meaningful chance of recovering any of your costs. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is over 30 years old and largely regulates communication pertaining to debt collecting. Keep in mind, when FDCPA was crafted over 30 years ago, answering machines were not even used, let alone faxing, e-mailing, texting, etc. ... The FDCPA is in desperate need of being updated, and many attorneys take advantage of this fact. It is filled with vague language and gray areas that are ripe for misinterpretation, which is just wonderful for low-level plaintiff's attorneys who are looking to make a quick buck at the expense of those performing an honest and needed service. Most third-party collectors go to great lengths and expense in an effort to comply with the FDCPA. Third-party collectors, at least the vast, vast majority of us, are simply attempting to get someone, the debtor, to make good on his/her legitimate obligation. What's not good and noble about that? It seems that your article actually encourages bad behavior and "making out" on a trivial technicality. Just because you can get away with something does not make it right. And I doubt you would be so keen on technicalities if someone in your family was the victim of a violent crime and it was found that an arresting officer of the accused perpetrator mishandled two trivial words in reading Miranda rights to the accused. Maybe that headline could read, "How to Outsmart Your Arresting Officer After Committing a Violent Crime." I give you the benefit of the doubt in that most people do not see things from our perspective; however, your article is disturbing, and it is never "smart" to devoid yourself of your rightful responsibilities. It is simply immoral! Thank you, Joel Lackey

Debt Collectos Warm and Fuzzy Side

posted on 2009-09-02 by Jim Stratton

Press release of the week so far goes to ACA International, the association representing debt collection agencies around the world.

It starts by pointing out that in 2008, complaints about debt collection firms was the number one problem cited by the National Association of Attorneys General. More people complained about debt collectors than they did car salesman, contractors and even telemarketers.

But lest you get the wrong idea, ACA International officials want to make clear that they're really looking out for you. They say they want to find ways to weed out the "small fringe of bad actors."

"There is no place in our industry for debt collectors who cannot treat consumers with dignity and respect," said Rozanne Andersen, the executive vice president and general counsel for ACA International. "The members of ACA International do not condone nor endorse any illegal, unethical or deceptive tactics when it comes to collectors contacting consumers."

To that end, the ACA board recently agreed to "explore the development of a national debt collection dispute resolution program."

It also "gave a green light this summer to further discussion on and research the concept of creating a national debt-collector registry."

So the group will "explore the development" of a mediation panel and have "further discussion" on "the concept" of creating a national registry.

Wow, that sort of bold action will send the "bad actors" scurrying for cover.

I am intrigued, though, by the debt-collector registry idea.

Do you suppose they'll have to alert nearby homeowners when they move into a new neighborhood?