Old Debts That Won’t Die
By ANDREW MARTIN
Published: July 30, 2010
Collecting old consumer debts has become “a labyrinthine industry” involving buyers of secondhand debt, muddled statutes of limitation, lawsuits and, sometimes, abusive tactics according to this New York Times article that provides great insight into the subject. Many debt collectors threaten to file lawsuits with no intent to do so or use lies and abusive tactics to try to force people to pay debts. These tactics are illegal and violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The New York Times article states in part:
Timothy McCollough freely admits that he stopped making payments on his Chase Manhattan credit card in 1999. He says he did not have the means to pay after he was disabled by a head injury that cost him his job as a school security guard. … Mr. McCollough is not the only borrower being pursued for a balance that has expired. Such claims are routinely sold on debt collection Web sites, where out-of-statute debt is for sale for a penny or less on the dollar. In most states, it is legal for collectors to pursue out-of-statute debt, as long as they do not file a lawsuit or threaten to do so. But some lawsuits are filed anyway, and consumer groups and even some industry consultants argue that collectors routinely harass debtors for unpaid balances that have exceeded the statute of limitations. In some cases, collectors have unlawfully added fees and interest. … Last month, Ms. Byers, who is 50, filed her own suit contending that the debt collector, Professional Collection Consultants, and its lawyer, Scott Wu, violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Her suit asserts that the collection firm and Mr. Wu routinely file lawsuits on stale debt in the hopes of obtaining default judgments.
Our Evanston, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.
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