Special type of due process at debt collection courts

June 12, 2013 | By | Reply More

Here’s a report from New York’s bursting collections dockets:

Over the past decade, the number of debt collection lawsuits filed in New York’s courts has exploded, with upwards of 200,000 cases filed in 2011 alone. Creditors and debt buyers engage in an array of fraudulent and deceptive debt collection practices that siphon billions of dollars from New York’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Abusive debt collection falls along a continuum of discriminatory financial practices that pervade low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, long targeted by high-cost and predatory financial services providers.

The creditors and debt buyers that bring these lawsuits routinely engage in “sewer service” — falsely claiming to the courts that they have served people with court papers. They also engage in rampant “robo-signing” — mass-producing fraudulent documents that they then submit to the courts. Debt buyers — companies that buy old, charged-off debts for pennies on the dollar — file more than half of all debt collection lawsuits in New York, and systematically lie to the courts about key information that they do not in fact have.

Creditors and debt buyers engage in this fraud to obtain automatic, or “default,” court judgments, which they then use to freeze people’s bank accounts or garnish their wages. The judgments also appear on people’s credit reports, blocking them from housing, employment, and credit access. Consequences have been especially dire for low-wage workers, elderly and disabled New Yorkers on fixed incomes, single mothers, and domestic violence survivors — and now also New Yorkers affected by last year’s hurricane.

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Category: Civil Rights, Law

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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