We have often talked about the outrageous conduct that often occurs when debt collectors start suing Alabama consumers. In general, most of them take a “presumed guilty” position with the Alabama consumers they call or sue. Then when we sue these collectors for suing the wrong person they become outraged at being sued. Ironic, huh?
A recent article in the NY Times by Jim Dwyer gives an example of the typical attitude of big collection lawfirms. [Note most Alabama collection firms are not like this – but some are…]
Here is the gist of what happened:
Clearly, they had the wrong Mark Hoyte. But that did not stop the lawyers at Pressler & Pressler from suing him. They swore out a complaint and sent a summons to Mr. Hoyte, ordering him to be in court last Monday.
Then things took a rare turn.
Every day of the year, 1,000 cases on average are added to the civil court dockets in New York City over credit card debt – a high-volume, low-accuracy moment of reckoning. The suits are usually brought by collection companies that purchase the debt for pennies on the dollar from card issuers and then work with a cadre of law firms that specialize in collection work.
Conducting a digital dragnet, they troll through commercial databases searching for debtors. Because of the vast sloppiness and fraud involved, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has shut down two of the collection firms and is suing 35 law firms tied to the business.
A person who blows off a civil court summons – even if wrongly identified – faces a default judgment and frozen bank accounts. But to date, there have been few penalties against collectors for dragging the wrong people into court.
Until Mr. Hoyte turned up last week in Brooklyn.
On the trial date, the Judge probed into this matter and the collection firm wanted to simply dismiss Mr. Hoyte from the case but not compensate him for suing him even when they knew he did not owe the debt.
Take a look at the attitude of this collection firm as it will give you insight into the arrogance of collection agencies and debt collectors in general:
Under questioning by the judge, Mr. Hoyte recounted being called about the debt, providing his Social Security number and date of birth, and being summoned to court anyhow.
The collections lawyer then began to interrogate Mr. Hoyte.
“You claim you told Pressler & Pressler it wasn’t you,” Mr. Wang said to Mr. Hoyte. “Did you send them proof, as in a copy of your Social Security number with only the last four digits visible?”
“No,” Mr. Hoyte said. “They didn’t ask for it.”
“But you didn’t send any written proof of the claim that it was not you?” Mr. Wang said.
“I told them on the phone it’s not me,” Mr. Hoyte said.
Mr. Wang appeared outraged.
“So without any written proof that it’s not you, you would expect someone just, you know, to go on say-so?” he demanded. “Is that correct?”
Alice had reached Wonderland: The lawyer who had sued the wrong man was blaming the wrong man for getting sued.
You can read a list of frequently asked questions about debt buyer lawsuits on our website or you can go to our speciality site which has information about debt collection lawsuits. You can also call us at 205-879-2447 or contact us through our website.
PS – Great article by Jim Dwyer. If you are wondering, yes this appears to be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act even though lawyers that defend collectors argue they can sue the wrong person and take it all the way to trial (to see if the consumer will not show up so a default will be taken) and then dismiss without any penalty. That’s bogus folks…..