Contact Your Government Representatives: It’s Your Duty

 

We’re going to spend the next couple of blogs talking about the importance of contacting your representatives. We all know that these people are supposed to be working on our behalf, but do we make sure to let them know what that behalf is? The people we elect to go to Washington D.C. or your state capitals were elected to go there and speak on your behalf. Let them know what you feel is important.

If you, like me, have experienced harassing phone calls, voice messages, and other illegal debt collection practices by debt collectors, you need to let your government representatives know about this and that they move to stop it.

How can they stop it?

First of all, your state justice department can investigate some of these agencies (as has been done recently in California and Georgia) engaging in illegal debt collection activities and stop them. They need to know what is going on.

Second of all, you can join with me to get Congress to close the loopholes in the debt collection process. Too many holes in the laws make it easier for agencies to get away with harassing acts that only hurt American families who have fallen on hard times. By spreading the word and signing my petition, we can go to Washington and tell them that the American people have spoken and want changes. I am prepared and eager to do that. I just need your help. What changes, exactly? Here is what I want to change with this debt collection reform petition:

We hereby petition Congress to amend the current debt-collection rules by adding the following provisions:

  1. Increase the penalty for violations of debt-collection rules from the current $1,000 to $10,000 for each violation.
  2. Ban all collection activities on debt that is older than the relevant statute of limitations.
  3. Raise the requirements necessary to file a lawsuit on credit-card debt.
  4. Require collection agencies to provide clear and understandable history of debt.
  5. Require all collection agencies to be licensed.
  6. Require all collectors to be licensed.
  7. Require an annual compliance audit for all collection agencies.
  8. Allow consumers to record telephone calls from collection agencies.

 

In our next blog, we will give you even more information to make it easier to contact your Senators, Congress-person, and other state officials about debt collection and other pressing issues they need to be talking about on your behalf.

Remember, don’t be intimidated. These people work for YOU!

 

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Debt Collection and Social Media

 

It is the job of debt collectors to try and track down borrowers to make them pay back the debts that they owe.

If they cannot get a hold of the person who owes them the money, they sometimes try to contact family members to try and get the money they are owed. This is commonly known in the debt collection world. With the massive spread and popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, some debt collectors are turning to these databases of information to try and find the family members and friends of the people owing the debts.

A recent Forbes article came out talking about how this form of outreach to family members of the person owing the debts has started to pick up popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the U.K. there have been recent changes to the debt collection guidelines in order to encompass these new forms of communication. The article puts it best -

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has updated its guidelines for debt collectors for the first time since 2006, in part to include the advent of social networking and its use as a tool for tracking–or even harassing–people.

The OFT now says debt collectors must not post messages on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, “in a way that might potentially reveal that an identifiable person is being pursued for the repayment of a debt.”

Debt collectors aren’t allowed to discuss a person’s debt with anyone other than the borrower their spouse and lawyer, and the same applies in the U.S. under Federal Trade Commission rules.

In the U.S., The Federal Trade Commission has also taken up this issue. This past April, they held a workshop bringing together representatives from the government, collections industry and consumer groups. These groups discussed the impact of new technologies on the collections process, such as mobile telephones, email and social media.

Next, the FTC will form a group to specifically address concerns about social media and hopefully put together guidelines for debt collectors so they know what they legally can and cannot do on these social platforms.

This, my friends, is why we need to reform the debt collection laws. There are so many holes in the laws, that these types of collection practices happen and are not checked. This is why I am working to change the system and this is why I need your help.

Sign our petition today and spread the word. I want to take this petition to Washington and make sure debt collectors have clear guidelines as to what they can and cannot do. More than that,

I want to help protect American families who have fallen on hard times. Together, we can do this.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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CFS II Accepted Into Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program

 

Just a note about what else we’re doing down in Oklahoma when we’re not out meeting with legislators and attorneys general across the country. My new business, CFS II, has been expanding and offering a projected 10,000 jobs over the next three years. As of yesterday, we also announced our acceptance in the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Here’s a copy of the full release.


Here’s an excerpt from our news release that touches on my other efforts to reform the debt collection industry at the same time:

The architect behind CFS II’s expansion is Bill Bartmann: entrepreneur — political activist — consumer advocate. “The debt collection industry has really turned into a nasty business and needs to be turned on its ear,” said Bartmann. Recently, he launched campaigns on both the national and state levels to reform the collection of consumer debts by debt buyers called “Stop These Criminals.”

Bartmann also addresses the abuse in the industry in his recent book, Out of Control: Cases of Debt-Collection Abuse in America And What We Can Do About It. The book is available on Amazon, and Bartmann is donating all proceeds to the National Consumer Law Center.

In Oklahoma, Bartmann was instrumental in helping pass new legislation protecting citizens from unethical practices. SB 368 was approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Fallin this past summer. In the next legislative session, he is hoping to have introduced a comprehensive proposal to govern all facets of the debt buying business.

“There is nothing wrong with asking people to pay their bills. They ought to pay their bills. But the reality is that no one just decides they are going to cheat the credit card company out of their money,” said Bartmann. “The drivers of credit problems are job loss, an illness in the family or a breakup of the family.” “They may owe the money, but they certainly don’t deserve to be cussed, abused, threatened and lied to. It is just plain wrong, and we can do better as an industry.”

Bartmann has already met with officials of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and a series of national and local legislators and state attorneys general to introduce and advance his plan for radical reform of the industry.

“There are many companies out there making a lot of money by cutting corners and treating consumers badly,” concludes Bartmann. “I am going to prove that one can do well by doing right by treating people with dignity and respect.”

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Kansas AG Schmidt Trying to Put an End to Midland Funding Chicanery

What’s worse than being abused for debts you owe? Being sued into paying debts that AREN’T yours.

This is the abhorrent trick Midland Funding, a subsidiary of the San Diego-based Encore Capital Group, which bills itself as “a recognized leader in distressed consumer debt buying and recovery.”

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said his office has received more than three dozen complaints about Midland Funding, which has filed over 3,300 lawsuits in Sedgwick County Kansas and has amassed over 1 billion in collections in just the past 2 years alone.

Attorney General Schmidt has his work cut out for him, but if my experience proves correct, the dozens of complaints he’s received about Midland Funding are likely to prove to be just the tip of a rotten iceberg.

Here’s Midland’s “Business” Model:

1. Midland tries to contact the alleged debtors to get them to agree to a payment plan.

2. If that doesn’t work, Midland files a lawsuit against the debtor.

3. “Tack & Mail” – Midland Funding pays the sheriff’s department or a private processor to place a summons on what the company believes to be the debtor’s door, and to send a copy of the summons by regular mail to the same address. This is the weakest kind of service because it is not assured that the defendant was actually notified.

4. Most suits result in default judgments for Midland because defendant doesn’t show up

5. When it wins judgments, Midland usually seeks to get money from the alleged debtors by garnishing their bank accounts.
According to an article in the Wichata Eagle, “The Midland case has exposed a potential flaw in the Kansas legal system that appears to have allowed people to be sued and judged on unconfirmed evidence.

In most of its cases, the only proof Midland offered was an affidavit in which an employee of a sister company, Midland Credit Management, swore that the consumer owed money to Midland Funding.
In its legal action against the firm, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office claims that the affidavits were mass-produced and invalid.

Three employees of Midland’s St. Cloud, Minn., office testified that they routinely signed 100 to 400 affidavits a day — known as “robo-signing” — without any knowledge about the debts they were swearing that people owed.

Two of the employees testified that they had no idea where the affidavits they signed came from.

“They just came from the printer as far a where we get them,” testified Ivan Jimenez, an employee in the St. Cloud facility who signed affidavits in 2008 and 2009.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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A Debt Collectors Public Defense – REALLY?

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal recently reported that the state of Texas sued the nation’s largest debt-buyer and two of it’s subsidiaries for falsifying supporting affidavits to collect delinquent debts and using unlawful and deceptive collection tactics.

The legal filing says Midland Funding and Midland Credit Management have filed more than 60,000 lawsuits for collection in Texas courts.

60,000?! In Texas alone.

If I still had my cowboy hat I would tip it to Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, (@gregabbott_TX) for trying to put a stop to this. You can read all the gory details from the link above, but here’s what struck me…

Encore’s chief executive officer, Brandon Black, said “Encore and its subsidiaries strive to work with consumers to help them resolve their debt, but because 95 percent of consumers ignore letters sent by the company, the legal channel is often the only remaining option.”

95%? Really? I had to laugh at seeing that. Hare Krishna’s have a better connect rate Encore!

To put this absurd statement into perspective, my company CFS II has an 85% CONNECT RATE. Meaning only 15% of our customers ignore our communications.

Either Encore is REALLY REALLY bad at their communications or maybe they are just looking for a little plausible deniability in using (read: abusing) the legal system for their own enrichment?

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Interesting….Using Laws Created for Organized Crime Against Debt Collectors

 

I think we may have a new trend in the making…

Resourceful consumer attorneys are starting to use RICO laws (legislation primarily used for prosecuting mobsters who “gave” the orders, but didn’t “actually” commit the crime) to go after deceitful and abusive debt collectors.

Using RICO legislation allows attorneys to create highly lucrative class action suits (read: gives attorneys the proper incentive to go after the bad guys.)

I expect to see much more of this approach in the future and think it’s a positive development. Any incentive to get debt collectors to clean up their acts is a good thing.

 

Here are a couple of examples:

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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What Debt Collection (Disturbingly) Sounds Like for Millions of Americans

 

Cord Jefferson of The Root uncovered this disturbing audio recording of a debt collection call to Romanda Lucas.

While I hesitate to share this because of it’s level of contempt and vulgarity, I am doing so because this gives a visceral insight into what millions of Americans, behind in their bills, are facing on a daily basis.

The threats from this call caused Romanda Lucas to change the locks on her home, because she literally feared for her safety and that of her family.

The accent of the caller suggest it originated from India, a popular source of staffing for many domestic debt collectors who use cheap overseas labor to harass and intimidate our friends and families.

In 2010 Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn) crafted enlightened legislation titled the End Debt Collector Abuse Act (EDCAA) bill. If turned into law, the legislation would prohibit collectors from seeking arrest warrants to collect debts and toughen already existing penalties against collectors who use illegal methods, like slurs and threats of violence, to collect money.

While it never made it to the floor for debate, I encourage Sen. Franken to reintroduce this needed legislation in 2012.

 

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Welcome to my new blog!

Whether you have followed my work and career in the past, or whether this is your first time to our site,

I want to personally welcome you to our new blog!

We’re excited to share information with you about our efforts to reform the debt collection industry and make sure we put a stop to abusive and illegal debt collection practices. The laws today are so full of holes that anyone who wants to get around them can do it and really hurt the average American who may be struggling with debt.

This is just sick, and it has to stop right now. I care because I’ve been there. You should care because someone you love could be the next victim. Help me stop these abusive debt collectors. Sign our petition today!

 

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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