Debt Collectors

941 Words4 Pages
A recent article in a Minnesota newspaper has struck fear in the hearts hundreds of thousands of citizens with a common problem in this economy - being in debt and unable to pay. The article gave an account of a woman who was jailed after apparently failing to pay a debt for which judgment was being sought by the creditor. From one perspective, that account may appear to be true. The woman had been ordered to appear in court to answer as to why she had not paid. She failed to appear for the hearing and the judge issued a warrant for her arrest. She was picked up on a routine traffic stop, and when the officer performed a check of her identity the warrant was noted. She was jailed, booked, and fingerprinted. In a similar case, a man was threatened with jail for failing to make payments to a creditor when ordered to do so by a judge. The amount in question was a paltry $25 per month on an 8-year old debt. You may be thinking to yourself that debtor's prisons are a thing of the past and were outlawed years ago. That basic fact is true. However, as more and more consumers fail to pay their due, creditors are looking for more and more ways to push the envelope to extract payment from delinquent customers. One way has been to use aggressive collection agencies and law firms that specialize in the collection of consumer debt. These firms are using the laws that have been on the books for many years but have been largely unused for debt collection. No one actually goes to jail for being in debt with perhaps the except of child support or alimony or separate maintenance payments. Those obligations have their own laws in dealing with their collection. Each state is different, but nearly every state has laws and statutes on t... ... middle of paper ... ...ring for a hearing or deposition without legal representation, they should educate themselves on the local rules for the court, and hone their knowledge of the collection and credit laws of their state. They should be prepared to answer, dispute and prove, or admit and explain each allegation of the complaint or discovery request. Contrary to popular belief, creditors are not required to accept what you can afford and be forced to leave you alone. Further contrary to popular belief, judges cannot force a creditor to accept less than what their agreement calls for. Be prepared to pay or have a reasonable plan at the ready. The economy has changed the way creditors approach recovery and collections. Consumers need to be aware, educated and prepared or they could very easily find themselves in the position of the Minnesota woman - behind bars and baffled.
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