Editor's Note: Collection agency owner Michelle Janik sent the following letter for publication after reading an earlier statement from a consumer attorney that CollectionsCreditRisk.com published, see story. To comment, contact Darren Waggoner, Editor, CollectionsCreditRisk.com at 815.463.9008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been in the credit and collection industry for over 25 years, both as a collector and sales person. Prior to starting my own collection agency five years ago, I was a sales manager at another collection agency. Almost a year into my employment, I became suspicious of illegal collection practices act and when I confronted the owners, they fired me.
This was my “Jerry Maguire” moment. I called my clients and told them I decided to start my own agency and asked if they would support my new venture and give me the business. It will be five years in October since I started my dream.
Now I am facing my very first unfounded lawsuit. Having been a single parent for over 13 years and being in a consumer debt collection situation in the past, I know all too well how it feels to be dunned by unscrupulous debt collectors. Not all collectors are like this and I certainly do not condone this behavior in my agency. It is not worth what I have worked so hard to build.
Do you ever hear about the positive stories of collection agencies? Or how a debt collector was able to assist a consumer with some good advice, truly making a difference in their life. Giving advice how to avoid for profit debt consolidation companies that promise you the moon but cannot deliver. We refer them to a non-profit consumer credit counseling company. We have set up short-term payment plans with an agreement to keep it off of their credit profile. I suspect that not very many, if any, offer this solution.
Today, I am beside myself as I get this letter from attorneys in Pennsylvania stating they are filing a lawsuit claim against my agency for violations against the FDCPA. I can tell you with confidence no such violations were made.
The debt originated in San Diego, the consumer now resides in Texas and the attorney is from Pennsylvania. This person has made many attempts to dispute this on his/her credit profile and we have submitted the appropriate coding [showing that] the debt is valid - but the consumer is disputing the item and disagrees. We were put on notice in April and never made any contact since that date.
So, five months later I get this notice from the attorney and I have 10 days to respond to this suit. What does my attorney tell me? He tells me to call them and settle.
You can’t imagine how incredibly angry and violated I feel to have to succumb to an attorney you know is unscrupulous as they prey on small agencies like mine to make a quick buck. What is more disturbing is my collection attorney told me, even though I may have all the documentation to substantiate my case, that it will cost me more than 10k to fight it.
Collection agencies who abuse the law are what I call “bottom dwellers”. They make me cringe that they are still in business and tarnish our industry and those who live above the law.
Who protects the good guys?
I’m a consumer with a close to 800 credit score and live within my means. There are always two sides to a story. Consumers who can and don't want to pay, those who are truly a victim of hard economic times and those who have no intention of every paying their bills, a path they have chosen to live.
How does a collection agency seek protection from these money hungry debt collection attorneys who have no validating proof an agency defied the FDCPA other than what the consumer states?
Michelle Janik, President
Premier Monetary Solutions, Inc.