Blogs by William Manchee
Debt Collector Put Out of Business In Texas
4/26/2009 6:14:12 PM
It was a good week, we put a predatory debt collector out of business in Texas...
The court enjoined the collector from engaging in business in the State of Texas until they posted a bond with the secretary of state. In Texas, as is probably the case in many other states, a debt collector must register with the secretary of state and post a bond in order to do business in the state. In this particular instance the debt collector was trying to collect a debt that had been discharged in bankruptcy. This is not uncommon, as delinquent debts are traded in the marketplace like stocks and bonds. Creditors package a large number of debts and then sell them to debt buyers for pennies on the dollar. For instance, in a recent case I was involved in the debt buyers paid approximately $750,000 for 17 million dollars in debt.
The buyers are supposed to scrub the accounts to make sure the debtors haven't filed bankruptcy, but they don't always do it. Typically the debt buyers then hire collection agencies to collect the debt. These collection agencies have a duty to scrub the account for bankruptcies too, but often don't or ignore the result. If the collector doesn't collect the debt within a reasonable time the debtor buyer takes it back and sends it out to another collector.
The problem for consumers is a debt may change hands four or five times without notice such and each one may send it to a different collection agency! That's why they don't recognize the account when the collector starts calling them or sending letters. Frustrated consumers often pay discharged debt just to get relief or to improve their credit score so they can get a car or a house loan.
To make matters worse many of these collection agencies will report the debt on the consumers credit report. When the account is returned to the debt buyer they don't always report the transfer. If the next collection agency reports the debt the result is two blights on the consumers credit for the same debt. This could go on and on. I have seen the same debt reported three or four times on a debt that wasn't even collectible.
This kind of behavior is in violation of the bankruptcy discharge injunction as well as many state consumer statutes like the Texas Finance Code. Offenders can be sued by consumers in the bankruptcy court or under state law and recovery damages. Damages can include mental distress, loss of time, statutory damages as well as punitive damages if the action will willful or intentional.
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