An ongoing source of distress for debtors is truly abusive debt collectors. Many of these alleged humans ignore the due process rights of debtors, lie, and break the law in their efforts to shake down debtors. Can anything be done? Finally, the federal and state governments are starting to take some action.
I. The Problems
A. Collectors Fail To Follow The Due Process Rules
I regularly have clients show me abstracts of judgment from state court cases in which they knew nothing about the suit until receiving the judgment. Are my clients lying? I don’t think so. In fact, a California state senator had the same thing happen to him. According to Jim Puzzanghera, in the August 20, 2012 Los Angeles Times:
Several years ago, debt collectors began pursuing state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) for an unpaid Sears bill they said he owed. He told them they had the wrong man, but the debt collectors never wavered. “These folks are very aggressive,” Correa said. “They’ll call back repeatedly and say, `Tell us some personal information so we can tell it’s not you.’ When all of a sudden is the burden of proof on me?” Last year, Correa discovered his Senate paycheck was being garnisheed [sic] because of a $4,329 lien for the Sears debt. Brachfeld had obtained a default judgment in court, even though, Correa said, the lawsuit was never served on him and he knew nothing of the claim or the court hearing. He later learned that the debt belonged to a Luis Correa from Santa Ana. The man had a different Social Security number, different address, even different first name — the senator is legally Jose Luis Correa. “I always pay my bills on time. Then to have somebody garnish my wages, I thought was pretty astounding,” the lawmaker said. He later resolved the problem and stopped the wage garnishment. Now Correa is supporting a bill by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to require debt collectors to document that they are pursuing the right person for the correct amount of money. The bill passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly.
If these entities can abuse a state senator, where does that leave the average person without any political clout?