February 19, 2016
IF YOU'VE DEFAULTED on federal student loans, you can breathe more easily. You won't be arrested for simply failing to make payments. For a hot second, people were panicking after a Houston television station reported that a local man, Paul Aker, had been arrested because he owed $1,500 for a federal student loan he took out in 1987. "What's the worst that can happen to you if you don't pay your old federal student loans?" the anchor began the segment. "Garnishment, something on your credit report?
January 14, 2016
FOUR MORE DOWN, so many more to go. The Federal Trade Commission recently smacked down four debt-collection outfits and their affiliates that the agency said engaged in abusive practices. This latest round of action is part of a federal, state, and local effort around the country to target deceptive debt collectors. I've personally been on the other end of a telephone call with a collector trying to bully me into paying a debt I didn't owe. The person was attempting to collect some medical payment that he claimed was owed by my deceased brother.
November 8, 2015 |
Maybe it's my sense of humor, but this recent comment by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, made me chuckle: "Despite strong protections that have been put in place to protect homeowners, this month's complaint report shows consumers are still having problems when dealing with their mortgages. " I'd like to think that all the federal government has to do is snap its collective fingers and all our problems will go away, but I wasn't born yesterday.
November 20, 2013
IF YOU OWE a debt, you should make every effort to pay it. After all, you've enjoyed the services or goods that your debt bought. And companies have a right to try to collect or even sell that debt to recoup their money. The more they can collect, the less likely they are to pass on their debt troubles to other consumers in the form of higher prices or the cost of credit. But consumers have a right to accurate documentation to back up the collection efforts. And certainly folks who don't owe a debt shouldn't be harassed or bullied because of some computer error or faulty debt data.
November 7, 2013 |
Help is coming for consumers who complain about mistaken or abusive debt collectors, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau prepares to overhaul the nation's collection standards for the first time in a generation. The CFPB will announce Wednesday that it is seeking public input on how to balance business' rights to be repaid against consumer concerns over collectors' excesses. It was authorized to oversee debt collection by 2010's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the same law that established the new bureau.
October 25, 2013 |
Philadelphia hasn't tried to sell off its property tax liens since a complicated and controversial deal during the Rendell administration left many people sour on the tactic. But now that the city has overhauled its property tax system - bringing renewed attention to its abysmal record of collecting those taxes - some proponents are trying to resuscitate the idea. Selling liens against tax-delinquent property has been a popular strategy in recent decades for cash-strapped cities.
July 22, 2013 |
A Horsham firm that Merrill Lynch & Co. once dubbed "the Wal-Mart of debt collection" has continued to expand, with help from Wall Street investors, despite running afoul of consumer-protection laws. NCO Financial Systems of Horsham last year combined with other outsourced-collection and customer-contact firms controlled by a JPMorgan Chase & Co. investment fund into a holding company called Expert Global Solutions, based in Plano, Texas. Expert Global claims $2 billion in yearly revenue, databases that track consumers' purchases and contact information, and 42,000 workers at 120 call centers in the United States, the Philippines, India, Canada, Barbados, and Panama.
July 12, 2013
I HAD A "DIE HARD" moment when I saw that the Federal Trade Commission had slammed a debt collector for various infractions, including trying to collect money that people didn't owe. When Bruce Willis is after a bad guy and he says "Yippee-ki-yay," you want to pump your fist and cheer because justice is being served. That's my reaction to the announcement from the FTC that it has levied a $3.2 million civil penalty against Expert Global Solutions - which the agency says is the largest debt collector in the world - and its subsidiaries.
October 3, 2012 |
American Express will pay more than $112 million in refunds and civil penalties to settle allegations that it deceived customers and violated laws governing debt collection, late fees, and other lending practices. About 250,000 cardholders will receive an average of $340 each under the agreement announced Monday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The CFPB said American Express violated consumer-protection laws "at every stage of the consumer experience, from marketing, to enrollment, to payment, to debt collection.
August 22, 2011 |
A Carlisle, Pa., lawyer blamed an addiction to video games for the sloppy legal work that has resulted in a three-year suspension. Mathew Eshelman, 43, retreated into the world of video games to fight job stress and problems at home, a state disciplinary panel concluded last week. The habit got Eshelman fired from a firm in 2007, but little changed when he set up a solo practice. "When attempting to conduct his own law practice, he sought refuge from his problems by playing video and computer games with an even greater intensity.