On December 4, 2009 the Federal Trade Commission held a roundtable discussion, actually it was more of a big U) about protecting the consumer in debt collection litigation and arbitration. As they said, “These events examine consumer protection issues in debt collection proceedings against consumers.”
If you are the least bit sleepy I don’t recommend that you try to wade through all the content of the entire conference so I’ll give you the most interesting stuff as I wade through it.
Their discussion on the statute of limitations was interesting if you are into that kind of stuff. Geek. (Like me.) It was humorous to hear how the representatives from the debt collection side of the industry did not feel that people were sued for debts that were beyond the statute of limitations but the consumer lawyers and judges said “Hell Yea.”
This one debt collection guy you’ll hear made the point several times that they do intentionally and actively collect on debts that are knowingly beyond the statue of limitations since the statute only prevents being sued, not collecting.
One judge even mentions how some debt collectors attempt to frighten families to pay on the debts of dead people.
The panelists also talk about a clever trick to fool consumers into thinking they’ve made a payment on a debt outside the statute of limitations so they will then make a “real” payment and revive the statute of limitations on the debt.
- How frequently do debt collectors seek to collect on debt that is beyond the statute of limitations?
- Should there be a federal statute of limitations for consumer debts? If so, how long should it be?
- What restrictions or rules should be imposed with respect to collecting time-barred debt?
- Prohibition or limitations on collection?
- Disclosure that the consumer is not obligated to pay?
- Prohibition on a payment reviving the entire debt?
- Disclosure that a payment revives the entire debt?
- Disclosure in complaints in collection actions of the date of last payment on a debt and the applicable statute of limitations?
- What actions should lawmakers, the courts, the FTC, the industry, or others take to address statute of limitations issues?
James Abrams, Judge, Connecticut Superior Court
Carolyn Coffey, MFY Legal Services, Inc.
Michael Debski, Rubin & Debski, P.A.
Peter Evans, Judge, Fifteenth Judicial Court of Florida, Palm Beach County
Joanne Faulkner, Law Office of Joanne S. Faulkner
Cary Flitter, Lundy, Flitter, Beldecos & Berger, P.C.
Michele Gagnon, Peroutka & Peroutka, P.A.
Mark Groves, Glasser and Glasser, P.L.C.
Diane Lebedeff, Judge, New York City Civil Court
Carlene McNulty, North Carolina Justice Center
Joann Needleman, National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys
Donald Redmond, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc.
Yvonne Rosmarin, Law Office of Yvonne W. Rosmarin
Albert Zezulinski, NCO Group, Inc.