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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
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
Maybe that headline could read,
"How to Outsmart Your Arresting Officer After Committing a Violent
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!
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?
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