Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Turning Our Courts into a "Frenetic Debt Collection Machine"

We picked up this story today from Public Citizen's Consumer Law & Policy Blog-

Chicago Court System a "Frenetic Debt Collections Machine"

The Chicago Tribune has this interesting article on the state of debt collections in Chicago, noting that Cook County courts are clogged with more than 119,000 civil lawsuits against alleged debtors. Many of these cases involve mistaken identities or debts that have already been paid.

Even a cursory check of the district court filings at the Alaska State Court's Courtview site will show that Alaska too is cursed with overly-aggressive debt collectors mass filing suits, often on very questionable evidence of debt.

One additional factor driving the debt collection industry in Alaska is that the debt collector who gains a default judgment then can move to attach 80% of the defendant's permanent fund dividend. By Alaska statute, no other personal exemptions can protect that 80% of the dividend, no matter how important the money is to put food on the table or pay the property taxes on the family home.

Anyone facing such a suit, no matter how questionable its foundation, should answer and force the debt collector to prove there actually is a debt owed and that the debt collector has a legitimate right to claim the debt. If you ignore a summons, your problems will get worse.

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