Friday, September 21, 2012

Private parking garage in Washington DC issues tickets; when unpaid they go on credit report as debts

A parking management company in the Washington DC area, Colonial Parking, is reported to be giving out parking tickets on the street in some areas (the Rhode Island ave. or Bloomingdale neighborhood) of Washington DC, on public streets that it somehow controls.  Failure to pay can lead to a debt that gets put on the person’s credit report and could wind up in collections.  The company has a way to get personal information from the DMV.

ABC affiliate WJLA-7 has the story here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Debt collectors sometimes do mention the possibility of prosecution -- legally

On Sunday, September 16, an article by Jessica Silva-Greenberg in the New York Times reported on a trend among debt collection companies to include a seal and signature from a local prosecutor’s (or district attorney’s) office. The practice occurs when collecting bad checks, where an additional “financial accountability education” fee is added to the debt.

Prosecutors in some states allow the practice (which occurs even before prosecutors or police determine that a crime has occurred) because prosecutors' office get some of the "financial education fee" money. (I don't think this is allowed in Virginia, which is stricter on prosecutor procedures than most other states.)

The link for the story is here.

Normally, it’s illegal for debt collection companies to mention threats of prosecution or even lawsuits to consumers (although companies that have “bought debt” can sue consuners).  

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Debt collections particularly aggressive against student loan defaults; purchasers of debt automate the lawsuit process

The front page of the New York Times on Sunday, in an article by Andrew Martin, “Debt collectors cashing in on student loan roundup: Those in default find it difficult to hide”, September 9, 2012, link (website url) here

The government has many means of direct collection, such as IRS refund seizure, social security benefit or wage garnishment, not so easily used for ordinary credit card debts.

And some debt collection companies specialize in student loan problems.

And some consumers are not told of forbearance options like “income-based repayment” which bases payments on discretionary income (at 15%), which could be difficult to assess.

A previous article in the NYT by Martin, July 12, had reported on the mechanics of automated debt collection lawsuits filed by companies that buy debts.  Ordinarily, it is not lawful, under the FDPCA, for a collector to tell a debtor he or she will be sued; but suits are legal when debts have been purchased, and there is plenty of software around to automate the generation of the legal paperwork and summonses to file the lawsuits.  There is criticism that they are often based on inaccurate information. 

Back in the early 1990s, after the first Savings and Loan crisis (before the subprime crisis of a few years ago), it was common for aggressive litigation tactics (including "letter lawsuits") to be used against borrowers with deficiency judgments, even in the cases of assumed mortgages (see James Widener, "A Homeowner's Guide to Foreclosure", Dearborn Financial Press, 1992). 

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Not all banks check logons from different computers

Here’s a little note from “my own experience”.

When I try to log on to my Bank of America account from a different laptop (in my case, a netbook), I get asked a security question before being allowed to log on to a different computer.  Bank of America has also long used a security icon to show that the visitor is at a true Bank site, not a fake from a phishing attack.

In my own experience, I did not experience that with Wells Fargo or with UBS.
With Wells Fargo, the MacIntosh (with Safari) converts the protocol to https automatically. But in Windows 7, Internet Explorer fails to load the page if you key in “http”.  You have to know to key in https.