Whenever a corporation issues a statement declaring that it is committed to “treating consumers fairly and with respect,” chances are it’s not.
After all, if the outfit was actually doing it, there would be no need for a statement. Indeed, this particular claim came from Encore Capital, one of our country’s largest buyers of bad consumer debt — and it definitely has not been playing nice with the people it browbeats to collect overdue credit card bills, car loans, etc.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that Encore, based in San Diego, filed nearly 240,000 lawsuits against debtors in a recent four-year period, using our courts as its private collection arm. Problem is, Encore’s bulk filing of lawsuits are rife with errors, out-ofdate payment data, fabricated credit card statements, etc. Tons of them are missing original loan documents, payment histories and other proof of debt.
Debt predators, however, scoot around this lack of facts by simply having their employees sign affidavits asserting that the level of money owed is accurate. Judges, overwhelmed by the unending flood of lawsuits filed by Encore et al., have accepted those affidavits as true, thus ruling in favor of the corporations. But Schneiderman found that — Surprise! — affidavits were simply being rubber-stamped by company employees, who didn’t have time to check for accuracy. An employee of one large debt-buyer testified that he was having to sign about 2,000 affidavits a day!
This is no minor scam — one in seven adults in the U.S. is under pursuit by debt collectors. It’s hard enough for struggling families to claw their way out from under the economic crash without having lying, cheating, predator corporations twist the court system to pick their pockets and shut off their hope of recovery.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.