In yet another story from Consumer Bankruptcy News ( the journal which keeps me informed about court cases of individual bankruptcy in Indiana and all across the country), a giant consumer debt collection company was ordered to pay a giant penalty for not telling. I want to share this story in order clarify to Bankruptcy in Indiana readers the way the law actually works when it comes to creditors suing debtors. Over my 25 years as a debt consolidation attorney, I’ve learned that consumers must stand up to creditors if those creditors step outside the boundaries that have been set by federal and Indiana bankruptcy law.
You know that slogan about reporting child abuse – “If you see something, say something”? One of my colleagues, a Bloomington bankruptcy lawyer, suggested that creditors be told that same thing when they talk to debtors. What things did Asset Acceptance conveniently omit when they tried to collect on consumer debt?
When I’m going over the list of debts with a visitor to the Zuckerberg bankruptcy law office (they might need payday loan debt help, credit card debt help, or medical expense debt help), one important thing we need to find out is how old each debt is. Debts can be too old to be legally unenforceable. Asset Acceptance had purchased tens of millions of consumer accounts, with some of the debts being more than ten years old. “When a collector tells a consumer that she owes money and demands payment, it may create the misleading impression that the collector can sue the customer in court to collect that debt,” explains David Vladeck or the Federal Trade Commission. The court ruled that, even with old debt, the law against deceptive and unfair collection efforts apply.
When consumers dispute the accuracy of a debt, the collector has an obligation to investigate the dispute and be sure the consumer actually owes that debt. Asset Acceptance didn’t bother to see about disputes or to say anything about them.
- Asset Acceptance was told they could not place any debt on a consumer’s credit report without notifying that consumer about the negative report.
As every good bankruptcy attorney in Indiana knows, lawsuits usually start out as nothing more than threats. A threat doesn't turn into a lawsuit until a complaint is actually filed with the court. At any point in this sequence from threat to judgment, you might find your need Indiana bankruptcy help. That's because filing bankruptcy has the same effect as a referee calling "Time out!" The automatic stay of bankruptcy is an injunction from the court that automatically stops lawsuits against you from the moment your bankruptcy is filed.
If you see something on your credit report or on a statement or bill that doesn’t look right – say something! Meanwhile, because it did not take the time “see anything” OR to “say anything”, Asset Acceptance, one of the country’s largest buyers of consumer debt, has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty to settle the FTC charges of misrepresentation.
Categorised in: Bankruptcy Indiana
This post was written by Mark Zuckerberg