More Debt Collection Madness

In September 13, 2006
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In a follow-up to a recent 4-part series on debt collection insanity in Massachusetts (see my blog entry for August 10, 2006), the Boston Globe has published a new article, “Debt Collectors Hunt the Innocent.”

The focus of this latest article is on the growing problem of collection agencies targeting the wrong person. As the debt purchasing industry grows, the sloppiness and ineffiency of the system becomes increasingly apparent. The article provides several examples of relentless collection activity against the wrong consumer, people who truly did not owe the debts in question. Mistaken identity does not seem to matter in this industry. With incorrect or incomplete information on debtors, collectors simply target any person with the same name without being certain they are dunning the correct person.

The message is loud and clear: Don’t think you are safe from the debt collection machine just because you pay your bills on time! If your name happens to be similar to someone who has skipped out on their bills, you too may be on the receiving end of such aggressive and misplaced collection activity. It’s probably true to state that such cases of mistaken identity are the exception rather than the rule. However, that is small comfort to those individuals on the receiving end of intense collection pressure on someone else’s bills!

You might expect a serious response to this article from the folks who speak on behalf of the collection industry. You would be wrong. The editorial response was even more pointless, arrogant, and unbelievably condescending in tone than the earlier one in response to the original 4-part series. The editor actually refers to the Globe series as a “jihad” against the collection industry. What an unbelievably cheap shot. If this is the best response the experts can manage, it’s small wonder that the debt collection industry is viewed with outrage and deep suspicion by the average consumer.

As I’ve stated before, the collection industry serves a legitimate function in our economy and creditors have a right to collect on delinquent debts. But the practice of debt purchasing clearly needs some regulatory attention.

 

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