Cuomo's Latest Target: Debt Collectors

Posted by: Adrienne Carter on May 29

This from a finance colleague, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, who will soon be joining the Unstructured Finance blog:

Rising unemployment, surging gas prices and a prolonged recession have created the perfect storm for American families, pushing consumer debt levels to record highs. With more consumers facing the menacing knock from waiting debt collectors, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants to ensure that when the bell tolls or phone rings, the collection tactics fall within the confines of the law. He announced this week that he had shuttered one debt firm, and expanded his probe into twenty other debt collection firms, alleging unfair practices and deceptive ways of wrangling money from customers.

The first target of Cuomo’s probe is Lamont Cooper, an owner and operator of several firms within the state. Cuomo’s office shut down two of Cooper’s firm called Emanee Development, Inc., and Dial Tech LLC. Cuomo alleges that the firms violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the law which governs debt collectors’ behavior, when they threatened to arrest consumers, and harangued people by calling them criminals.

Cuomo’s investigation unfolds against a rising tide of consumer backlash. Last month, President Barack Obama hauled credit card company executives to Washington, and decried certain billing practices as outright unfair. Then Congress quickly passed a law reining in unfair credit card billing practices, after the bill had languished in Congress without the necessary support for over a year. It looks like debt collectors could be the next business forced to reform their ways or suffer public lashings and investigations. “At a time when New York families are already struggling with unprecedented levels of debt, unscrupulous collection agencies add salt to an open wound,” Cuomo said in a press release.

Probes into collection practices will continue, Cuomo says. His office plans to scrutinize collection practices, collector compensation and how debt firms deal with complaints. Cuomo has said he wants to halt harassing phone calls, frivolous lawsuit threats from collectors, and other practices which violate the law.

Reader Comments

Jeff

May 30, 2009 09:02 PM

Cuomo "wants to halt harassing phone calls, frivolous lawsuit threats from collectors, and other practices which violate the law." The debt collectors just want to collect the money that is legally owed. If you cant pay it back, don't borrow it.

Against Bill Collectors

June 1, 2009 12:09 PM

There are Federal and Florida laws to protect consumers against bill collector harassment. You can find additional information about these laws on the following website www.againstbillcollectors.com.

Joe Nikolaou

June 2, 2009 05:07 PM

If the credit card companies were regulated, like the entire banking industry was since the New Deal, till the last 10 years or so, we wouldnt be in this mess. This is a scam. We were supposed to have learned from the Great Depression. This is a national security issue. This is how people need to look at it. Our economy our country has been destabilized by this reckless pursuit of short term profit.

Melissa

June 9, 2009 08:22 PM

Jeff, I am sure if most of us knew we were in a recession, we would not have made the purchases we made with our credit cards. That is the reason that information was withheld from us. The Government knew people would stop spending. Did you notice that when it was announced last fall that we were in a recession, spending came to halt? Show me a person who likes to receive phone calls from debt collectors and I will show you a bank who has been totally honest with its customers.

christina

June 25, 2009 11:49 AM

It is very frustrating seeing all this bull crap about all debt collectors all are not like this. But dont you think people should start taking resposibilty for their actions not just going sue happy on something they incurred and legally owe. Yeah we are in a recession and banks need bailout but if people would pay their bills willingly then maybe this wouldnt be a prob. JUST PAY YOUR BILL

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BusinessWeek's Adrienne Carter, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David Henry deconstruct the mysteries of high finance, Wall Street, and hedge funds for pros and ordinary investors. E-mail them directly if you've got tips about big deals, a hedge fund, or even securities industry gossip.

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