It is already bad enough that people who have overdue bills are subjected to debt collectors making phone calls and in-person visits. Now, things are getting even worse as debtors are having lawsuits filed against them. The reason for this is that debt collectors believe the debtors will not appear in court to defend themselves, accoding to The Huffington Post.
If a debtor does not appear in court the judge can place a lien on their home, garnish their wages, or freeze their bank accounts.
“Over the years we’ve heard from thousands of people who’ve found themselves at the end of one of these default judgments,” said Susan Shin, a senior staff attorney at the New Economy Project, a consumer advocacy group. “And most of the people we talk to haven’t received any kind of notice that they were going to be sued.”
A recent study found that more than 200,000 cases against debtors were filed in New York in 2011 alone. Income from the legal collection of debt increased to more than $1 billion from 2009 to 2012. This was an increase from $582 million, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
“It’s almost like a game of telephone,” said Leslie Parrish, who co-authored the recent Center for Responsible Lending report. “The risk to the consumer is compounded as the debt moves down the chain.”
According to the FTC, the agency receives more complaints about debt buyers and debt collectors than any other single industry.
“The ability to use the courts is a right that all Americans have,” said Mark Schiffman, spokesman for ACA International. But, he added, “It’s not the option of first resort because it costs money to litigate these cases.”