Just a few days ago, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report detailing numerous problems with American’s debt collectors, along with recommendations on how to improve the system to make it more fair for consumers. The report is entitled “Repairing a Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration”. The information in the report included feedback gathered from consumer advocates and others during roundtable discussions across the US in 2009.
The major problems highlighted in the report include:
- Debt collectors fail to properly notify consumers about lawasuits filed against them
- Debt collectors filing lawsuits without enough evidence about the debt
- Courts granting default judgments (meaning debt collectors win withoout a trial) when consumers do not show up in court to defend themselves
- Debt collectors filing lawsuits on debts that are past the statute of limitations (which means the debt can no longer be sued on)
- Debt collectors seizing money and freezing bank accounts that are exempt from such debt collection efforts (this includes exemptions for head-of-household, social security income, unemployment benefits, and many other exemptions)
- Debt collectors forcing consumers to resolve disputes in private arbitrations that are biased, unfair and deceptive, and without adequate court supervision
To address these issues, the Federal Trade Commission made a number of recommendations, including:
- States should adopt measures to make it more likely consumers will defend themselves when they are sued, resulting in fewer default judgments
- States should require debt collectors to include more information about the alleged debt when they file their lawsuits
- States should take steps to ensure that debt collectors are not filing lawsuits for debts on which the statute of limitations has expired
- Changes should be made to federal and state laws that would prevent a certain amount of money in a bank account from being frozen, and make that amount exempt from garnishment
The problems identified above are happening every day here in Seminole County (including Lake Mary, Longwood, Altamonte Springs, Sanford, Oviedo, Winter Springs, Casselberry), as well as throughout Central Florida, including Orange County, Volusia County, Brevard County, Lake County, Flagler County and the cities of Bunnell, Cocoa, Daytona Beach, DeBary, DeLand, Melbourne, New Smyrna Beach, Orlando, Tavares, Titusville, and many others.
If you have experienced these problems, or any other problems relating to debt collection, we are here to help! You can put our experience in representing consumers against debt collectors to work for you. Please feel free to contact us by phone, fax or by filling out our simple web contact form for a free no-obligation consulation. We’ll tell you about your rights and your ability to fight back against debt collectors.