Minnesota notifies debt collection agencies of potential punishment for failure to conduct background checks

Back in December, I wrote about a Star Tribune story that detailed a number of problems with Minnesota’s debt collector licensing process. As noted in the story, many debt collection agencies weren’t conducting background checks of new collectors because they supposedly believed–erroneously it turns out–that the state was doing it for them.

This past week, the newly inaugurated Dayton administration informed eight of Minnesota’s largest debt collection firms that it’s “prepared to commence formal action” for failing to conduct criminal background checks of collectors. The eight firms that were notified were Allied Interstate Inc. of Plymouth, AllianceOne Receivables Management Inc. of Eagan, Bureau of Collection Recovery of Eden Prairie, I.C. System Inc. of St. Paul, Financial Recovery Services Inc. of Edina, NCO Financial Systems Inc. of Mendota Heights, Receivables Management Solutions Inc. of West St. Paul, and Van Ru Credit Corp. of Des Plaines, Ill.

Minn. prepares crackdown on debt collectors | Star Tribune | January 28, 2011

3 Responses to “Minnesota notifies debt collection agencies of potential punishment for failure to conduct background checks”

  1. John Dee

    I am a debt collector. Unfortunately we do not live in a hand shake society anymore. Use to be that when people “borrowed something”, they paid it back, We do not have a “debtor’s prison” anymore which originated in old England. Everybody today know this, and they (that so choose) go out a sign a contract to borrow something and do not pay it back because they know there are virtually no reprecussions for their actions. There are legitimate reasons sometimes, we can’t pay back a debt.

    That is why we have personal banruptcy laws, having origins back to Biblical times, where every seven years, a debt was forgiven.

    I do not understand lawyers that pursue harassment claims, when I have a legitimate debt that I legally incurred, I have not filed bankruptcy, and I want relief because I get a call that says it is time to pay up, finally. Debt collectors inherently do not “harass and abuse” people. They try to collect what is long ago and legally owed.

    Sometimes, albeit, far and few between, there are unscrupolous debt collectors, just as there are unscrupulous lawyers, judges, car salesman, pill popping Doctors (pain clinics), etc.

    For instance, as a debt collector, very recently, in my life, I have gone through $750K in medical bills and treatment, and have not worked but 6 months in the past 2.5 years. Do I owe the hospitals and Doctors today, no. I pay what I owe, and when I am not able to do so, I will file bankruptcy, but I will not blame or sue the debt collector.

    My final words are get some self respect. I fully believe in the judicial system, but how can I get my car wrongfully repossessed if it is paid for and I have the title to it, in my house? Consumer rights laws are great to deal with the low life collector. But lets face it, if we had not put ourselves in the position to be confronted by a collector (low life or above board trying to work with me), we would not be having this read-a-long.

    In the end, be responsible for your own actions. period. BE RESPONSIBLE. The lawyers that pursue the collector are just perpetuationing the national debt, because in the end, if I do not pay for it, the cost is passed along to somebody else, eventually it winds up in the national debt.

    You decide the right course of action.

    • Todd Murray

      John:

      Nothing in the FDCPA prevents collectors from doing their jobs. The FDCPA only prohibits unfair, untrue, and harassing and abusive collection practices. Treat people with fairness, truth, dignity, and respect and you won’t have any problems.

      I also think you have a fundamental misunderstanding about consumer attorneys. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never sued a collector for merely calling and politely attempting to collect a debt that is owed. But I have sued collectors for, among other things, suing the wrong person for a debt; illegally and repeatedly contacting third parties and disclosing that the consumer owes a debt; suing a person more than once for the same debt; and garnishing a consumer that was current on an agreed-upon repayment plan. Do these sound like fair collection practices to you? You mentioned your own financial problems. If a collector did these things to you, would you be upset? Of course you would.

      Finally, I would be very careful about accusing people in collections about being irresponsible. In my experience–and I deal with consumers every day–most people are honest, hardworking, and want to pay their bills. But they’ve lost their jobs, had serious medical problems, or other circumstances outside their control.

      Todd

  2. RE

    I’m a debt collector.

    I’ve never been sued or been part of a Regulatory Complaint.

    I agree, there are debt collectors who break the law and do so knowlingly in efforts to intimidate consumers into repaying their debts.

    I also know there are consumers and (some) attorneys who “bate” bill collectors into breaking the law.

    At the end, we must all remember that we are dealing with people. People have needs and are dynamic in personality. The bill collector is simply doing their job and has a spouse and children of their own to care for. The same way bill collectors whould remember the consumer is most likely struggling to support thier family.

    I’ve moved up in the company I work for and manage a large group of people. I train my staff with the following thought process:

    “We must have a genuine interest in people and their success.”

    With this thought process we will employ empathy, respect, and understanding. The problem with most bill collectors is we tend to lean towards manipulation vs pursuasion when collecting on debt. Manipulation is comprised of deceit and lacks transparency. When we manipulate people we ruin our credibility and destroy any chance of building a relationship with them. If we take the second option and act pursuasively… our consumers will recognize that we have everyone’s best interest at hand. We will demonstrate a concern for our jobs, our Clients (the banks), and our consumers… consequently, putting everyone in a position to “win”.

    Bill collecting takes skill especialy in today’s economy. A good bill collector is a tremendous asset to any business.

    I respect attorneys who side with consumers. Its a stand up thing to do and I’m sure its profitable.

    My message to John: If you dislike these attorneys so much all you have to do is do a good job and influence those around you to do a good job. If you aren’t breaking the law… Todd won’t make money.

    My message to Todd: Your reasons for suing collectors are ligit and make sense. Good job recognizing those needs and siding with “us” (as I am a consumer as well as a bill collector).

    My message to consumers: We know you didn’t get into dent purposely. But, don’t run from your debts… confront them because you are good and you will get ahead. Be strong, reach out to us. We will help you and if a collector doesn’t want to help… just ask to speak to a manager. wish you the best!