Whenever a corporation issues a statement declaring that it’s committed to “treating consumers fairly and with respect,” chances are it’s not. Otherwise, there would be no need for a statement.

This particular claim came from Encore Capital, one of our country’s largest buyers of bad consumer debt. And it definitely hasn’t been playing nice with the people it browbeats to collect overdue credit card bills, car loans, and other expenses.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that the San Diego-based firm filed nearly 240,000 lawsuits against debtors in a recent four-year period, using our courts as its private collection arm.

Problem is, Encore’s lawsuits are rife with errors, out-of-date payment data, fabricated credit card statements, and other fraudulent filings. Tons of them are missing original loan documents, payment histories, and other proof of debt.

paying credit card bills


Debt predators, however, scoot around this scant evidence by simply having their employees sign affidavits asserting that the alleged debts of their victims are accurate. Judges, overwhelmed by the unending flood of lawsuits, have largely accepted those affidavits as true and ruled in favor of the corporations.

But Schneiderman found that — surprise — these affidavits were simply being rubber-stamped by company employees, who didn’t have time to check for accuracy. An employee of one large debt-buyer testified that he had to sign about 2,000 affidavits a day.

This is no minor scam — a third of all adults in the United States are under pursuit by debt collectors.

It’s hard enough for struggling families to claw their way out from under the economic crash without having lying, cheating, predatory corporations twist the court system to pick their pockets and shut off their hope of recovery.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower LowdownOtherWords.org.

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