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Do Creditors Have The Right To Ignore A Power Of Attorney (POA)?

This guest post is from Michael Reilly from Emerge America. His post certainly does raise issues about the lack of uniformity of the Power of Attorney.

I believe the answer to that question is no! Perhaps creditors should familiarize themselves with “THE UNIFORM POWER OF ATTORNEY ACT.”

As many Debt Settlement Service Providers (DSSP’s) can attest, creditors seem to think that they have the right to decide who they will deal with when it comes to negotiating settlements with debtor accounts. One day they are dealing with DSSP’s and will accept a POA, the next day they are not. In fact depending on the representative you speak to at most major creditors, the likes of Citi, Chase, Discover, etc, it seems as though the bank agents have carte blanche to arbitrarily decide whether or not they will even talk to DSSP’s at all.

Below I provide the notes for an account of which I have been attempting to settle 2 CITI accounts. This client (who happens to be a personal family friend), is struggling with debt to the point of needing medication, in depth psychological evaluation and ultimately has been admitted for hospitalization. I provide these notes to show the work that goes into helping consumers with the hope that others in the DSSP space stop fighting with one another and take the fight to the CREDITORS.

Notes

  • 03/28/11 12:15 Spoke with Ismar Escalations specialist who explains that it was sent out for management review and that is why it is taking a bit longer than normal…He came back to the line after leaving me on hold to check with his manager and explained that they were not willing to settle because the POA was under the name Emerge America and they were unwilling to settle as of March 21 because of the POA was not in my name personally as a family friend. I explained that I spoke with Judy on The 22nd and she claimed there was no acceptance or rejection. He said she was wrong and said well you have to re-send the POA. So I re-sent the POA as requested and have a 48hour turn time.

  • 03/22/11 11:42 Spoke with Judy she states that there is no update in her notes as to an acceptance or rejection of the settlement offer I should call back tomorrow…
  • 03/16/11 12:05 Once again the validity of the POA is questioned…I got angry and told her to look at the notes. It is not my fault that I can not reach the same agent every time….I should not have to rehash the same circumstances each time to a new agent…I am not working this account as a DS Co. This is a personal family friend…The end result, Cynthia explained that the payment arrangement of 0% Interest it will take 2 months and then they will be willing to talk settlements. I have asked that they take a settlement today. She is working that through today…it will take 2 weeks to be able to begin talking for settlements…She has placed a verbal no call on the account…

    03/16/11 10:52 Spoke with Joshua a new agent at CITI offering $14500. I explained that members of the family would need 3 to 6 payments to make this happen however due to tax season can come up with extra money to settle this account. After going through the POA question again and asking if I was a debt settlement co, Joshua agreed to present the offer and will need 3 to 5 days to see if they will accept. It will be a max period, of a 3 month term not 6 says Joshua

  • 03/11/11 13:19 A POA was sent again to 904-954-8880 for the business account as suggested by Kathryn in the “Managers Unit”…
  • 03/11/11 13:08 So I spoke with Kathryn Team #66 which is the same team or unit as Jerry. Once again they questioned the validity of the POA and barraged me with the same question….Are you a DS co. In the end they offered 50% on the dollar. I explained to her that this is not a matter of percentages, it is the health and well being of a human being who is suffering. I explained that the family can put together 13k. “We are not interested based upon the current status of the account.” Then informed me if I wish to write a letter I can send any mail on behalf of this client for the personal account goes to PO BOX 6077 Sioux Falls SD 57117, for the business account PO BOX 6000 The Lakes, NV 89163-6000 the POA for the business account can be sent there or faxed to 904-954-8880. Kathryn became a bit defensive and argumentative when I attempted to explain to her again the circumstances of my friend, I was forced to have to calm her down. She stated the offer will run through the 27th of March goodbye.
  • 03/08/11 10:31 Spoke with Jerry a manager in the” Manager Unit” at Citibank and made a 10k offer that she is working on internally. she is reachable at 866-812-7488. She will get back with me before Friday. I described the hardship and she assures me that she will do all in her power to help this client and understands that I am working for this client in my capacity as a family friend, not a debt settlement company.
  • 03/07/11 11:33 Although POA was sent via regular mail two weeks ago Citi informs me that they have nothing on file. I have now faxed the POA to 605-357-2009

I last left off in my notes of March 28th once again being asked by Ismar to resend the POA. As requested I resent the POA with the proviso of a 24 hour turn time before the POA would be noted to the account. Here is where it gets interesting (see notes below)

  • 03/29/11 12:13 Spoke with Jessica explained the background of my client and how many agents I have spoke with, especially Ismar, she explained that her department handles these types of offers and accounts and her boss can look this $14,500 offer over…She does not know why the unit manager declined the POA…Explained that she can go into a different office and through two different bosses but this could not happen in just a few days, and will need time. Jessica offered to call me back by Friday April 8th to see if she can get this $14,500 offer approved… She needs this amount of time as she must wait till this account bills on April 1st and “once I hear something I will call you back but the latest on Friday the 8th”….I Gave my cell and office #’s so I would be accessible…
  • 04/08/11 16:25 Waited all day and never received a call from Jessica so…I Called Citi and was informed that the account was transferred to Slomomn and Solomon a law firm representing CITIBANK. Although today was the day that I was suppose to know if the offer was accepted or not. I was put on hold and simultaneously transferred to the law firm and connected to Denise and asked her if they were an internal law firm for CITI as I was expecting word on the settlement offer made over 2 weeks ago, she claimed yes. She put me on hold and transferred me to LINDA a supervisor who asked me of all things to send a POA again. After I explained to her the circumstances surrounding this account she was truly understanding but could not talk and deal with a settlement offer without the POA. I told her that I would send it immediately. However I will first reach out to CITI again and see if they want to make good on the previous call and an answer today.
  • 04/11/11 16:44 Reached out today to see if I can get someone who will understand what has happened with this account. Spoke to Dana in Managers Unit. She said that the account has been transferred to the law firm and there is nothing she could do. I attempted to plead my case and all she could say was it has been transferred do you want the number, and gave me number of law firm Solomon and Solomon.

Although I began working this account on March 7th and was successful in pleading my clients case in order to have a 50% settlement offered, collection calls to cease based on the severe hardship. As of today I am no closer to a settlement on this account and the calls are starting all over again. I am not defeated and will prevail. I do however think showing the public the effort that is put forth on their behalf is important to demonstrate.

Additionally, Citi has launched a new advertising campaign based around the theme of stories, positioning the brand as an enabler of positive human experiences. “What’s your story?” each execution asks. “Citibank can help you write it.” Work featured in the new campaign includes television and radio commercials, magazine and newspaper print, billboards and posters in major markets, and a variety of digital media. The stories in the campaign tap into emotion and humor, ultimately demonstrating Citi’s role of providing the financial products and services that let people live out the best stories possible. The successful “What’s your story” theme was previously used to advertise Citi Cards and has now been expanded to include the entire franchise.

Clearly after reading the story of my client the above advertising campaign is deceptive to put it mildly, it does however give me the chance to tell them “What my story” is.

Update

We settled this clients Citi Gold Advantage Card in May, balance at time of settlement $33,208.38 via the Law firm Solomon & Solomon for $16,604.19 (4 payments) he has a Citi Business Advantage Card with a balance of $2,416.44 unsettled.

Client enrolled Jan 13, 2011 and made last payment on the CGAC Aug 25, 2011.

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  • COLLECTOR

    I WOULD HAVE TOLD THE ORIG CREDITOR AND LAW FIRM HE WAS PLANNING TO FILE BK WITHIN 60 DAYS. AT THAT POINT THE ORIG CREDITOR PUTS THE CARD INTO A DIFFERENT CATAGORY OR WILL SELL THE ACCOUNT FAST. USUALLY AT THAT POINT LOWER SETTLEMENTS WILL BECOME AVAILABLE. ALSO FROM WHAT I HAVE SEEN SETTLEMENTS WITH THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR MAKE IT MORE LIKELY YOU WILL GET A 1099-C.

    I HAVE NO STATISTICAL DATA TO BACK THAT POINT UP BUT BASED ON CONVERSATIONS WITH DEBTORS THAT’S WHAT I HAVE SEEN. ONCE CREDITORS PUT A FILE INTO POTENTIAL BK STATUS THEY START LOOKING TO RECOVER WHAT THEY CAN B4 THE BK HAPPENS. AT THAT POINT THE 25%-35% SETTLEMENTS START TO BECOME AVAILABLE.

  • Fitz

    I understand your frustration Mike but unfortunately, I believe the answer to the question is yes, they can ignore the POA. Creditors do not have to talk to anyone, be it their customer, a proper POA, or even an attorney. What is really frstrating is the Cap One experience others have mentioned. They won’t talk to you and the balance is going thru the roof. I’ve often thought about offering 100% to them only to have it ignored for months and then come out of their “que” somewhere with double the balance and then sue them. I’m thinking they have to respond to a payoff request (or at least not be able to run up fees), but they don’t have to talk about settlement.

    • http://www.emergeamerica.com Michael Reilly, Emerge America

      Well Fitz, the good news is most don’t ignore it, infact (as you know) most ask for it before the process starts. As a side note, I have never dealt with a law firm that wouldn’t accept it. 

      • Fitz

        True enough. What we need is a debtor’s bill of rights. One of the rights would be the right to designate their representative. Another would be the right to know to know the original creditor and account number.

      • boomtown

        Well Fitz, one small correction, they do “have” to talk to the attorney. However, if merely to say “We Don’t want to talk/negotiate, just sue”…

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Why don’t we create a debtor bill of rights. Sounds like a good idea.

  • Anonymous

    Mike- Great info, thanks. 

    Re: The Uniform PoA Act, is that law anywhere yet? Do you know which states? Is there a Federal Law similar?

    • http://www.emergeamerica.com Michael Reilly, Emerge America

      Sean, below is the result of a quick search to answer your question. also let me note that we have moved from a basic one page POA to one with a bit more teeth and we require the principal/consumer to have them notarized.

      The original Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act, which was last amended in 1987, was largely adopted by a majority of jurisdictions across the country. But most states enacted non-uniform provisions to deal with specific issues that the original act didn’t address. Some of the differences included:

      the authority of multiple agents
      the authority of a later-appointed fiduciary or guardian
      the impact of dissolution or annulment of the principal’s marriage to the agent
      activation of contingent powers
      the authority to make gifts
      standards for agent conduct and liability
       
      After a lengthy process of review and a national survey, the Uniform Law Commissioners drafted a new Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2006 to codify legislative trends and collective best practices to both protect an incapacitated principal and preserve a principal’s freedom to choose the extent of an agent’s authority and the principles that govern their conduct.

      Not all states have adopted the new Uniform Power of Attorney Act, so there are differences in definitions and what is covered between states. According to the Uniform Law Commission website, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico adopted the Act before 2010. In 2010, Maryland, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and Wisconsin adopted it. If you live in one of these states and had a power of attorney in place prior to 2010, the document may need to be updated. There is pending legislation in West Virginia, Minnesota and Ohio. If the legislation passes and you live in one of these states, you may need to update your document.

      Some of the provisions to be aware of in those states that have adopted the Uniform Act are those that:
      Recognize that an agent who acts with care, competence and diligence for the best interest of the principal is not liable solely because he or she also benefits from the act or has conflicting interests.Permit a principal to include in the power of attorney an exoneration provision for the benefit of the agent.Provide ways for the agent to give notice of resignation if the principal is incapacitated. Provide broad protections for the good faith acceptance or refusal of an acknowledged power of attorney. Recognize portability of powers of attorney validly created in other states. Offer an additional protective measure for the principal by providing that third persons may refuse the power if they have the belief that “the principal may be subject to physical or financial abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment by the agent or person acting for or with the agent, make a report to the appropriate adult protective service agency.”
       
      With the arrival of the new year, now is a good time to get organized and make sure that any necessary legal documents, like your power of attorney, are updated.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you Mike! Great stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Mike- Great info, thanks. 

    Re: The Uniform PoA Act, is that law anywhere yet? Do you know which states? Is there a Federal Law similar?

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