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Goodbye Mann Bracken. A Debt Collection Company Worth Going Bankrupt.

By on January 12, 2010
Goodbye Mann Bracken. A Debt Collection Company Worth Going Bankrupt.

Boy, you talk about another corporate convoluted mess unraveling, this one is a doozy. To get the background you need to read Facts Reveled in National Arbitration Forum Lawsuit Should Make You Want to Puke.

In that piece you can learn more about the convoluted corporate games that were played to basically corrupt the credit card arbitration process into a joke. We all knew it was but hats off to Minnesota for doing all the research and connecting the dots of Accretive LLC , Axiant, Mann Bracken, Wolpoff and Abramson, National Arbitration Forum. Mann Bracken and Wolpoff and Abramson are collection companies.

Here’s a nice summary from a recent suit:

Most consumer credit card agreements contain mandatory arbitration clauses, which require consumers to forfeit rights to litigate their disputes in court and mandate that any disputes be resolved through an alternative system of binding arbitration. many of these agreement require disputes to be resolved exclusively through Defendant National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”). For years, NAF falsely held itself out as an independent provider of neutral arbitration services in consumer debt matters, unaffiliated with any person or entities within or outside the collection industry. Now, NAF is under siege by local and state prosecutors for working alongside creditors, rubber-stamping illegitimate arbitration awards against consumers, deceiving the courts and the public, and undermining the integrity of the arbitration system.

Defendant Mann Bracken, LLP (“Mann Bracken”) claims to be a law firm specializing in consumer debt collection matters, but it is a debt collector in its own right. mann Bracken initiated thousands of so-called “arbitrations” through NAF. Most of these arbitrations were against consumers from whom mann Bracken attempted to collect alleged credit card debts on behalf of its corporate clients, e.g., major credit card companies As a self-proclaimed “independent and impartial arbitration provider,” NAF was supposed to provide arbitration services devoid of conflicts of interest.

READ  Pressler & Pressler, LLP - CFPB Complaint

In reality, NAF and Mann Bracken worked in tandem for the collections industry, their interests strictly aligned with credit card companies against consumers by virtue of their common owner, Defendant Accretive, LLC (“Accretive”). Accretive owns and controls both NAF and Mann Bracken and their related entities. NAF was thus far from an “independent and impartial arbitration provider.” and instead, was a sham operation whose primary purpose was to rubber=stamp arbitration awards and confer the appearance of legitimacy upon mann Bracken’s debt collection efforts. NAF concealed its conflict of interest and provided bogus arbitration services instead of legitimate dispute resolution services it promised and was contractually obligated to deliver to consumers.

The Attorney General of Minnesota recently exposed the concealed relationship between NAF and Mann Bracken, and the financial relationship with their common group owner, a group of New York hedge funds known as Accretive. According to the Attorney General’s complaint, NAF “is financially affiliated with a New York hedge fund that owns on of the country’s major debt collection enterprises,” which relationship NAF and Mann Bracken conceal from consumers. Within days, NAF was forced to announce it was getting out of the consumer arbitration business.

The People of the State of California also sued NAF in a consumer fraud action brought by the City Attorney for the City of San Francisco. According to the City Attorney’s complaint, based on NAF’s own statistics from 2003 to 2007, “in each and every case where a business entity brought a claim against a consumer and the matter was disposed of by hearing, the NAF arbitrator ruled in favor of the business entity — a 100% success rate.”

NAF and Mann Bracken worked hand-in-hand to create the illusion of legitimacy and due process, with the purpose of railroading consumers into a corrupt dispute resolution process and bilking consumers out of hundreds or thousands of dollars, including NAF charges and Mann Bracken’s alleged legal fees and costs. Despite revelation of their ruse, neither NAF, Mann Bracken, or any of the other Defendants, including Accretive, has returned the money consumers paid for “arbitration” services they never received.

READ  Pressler & Pressler, LLP - CFPB Complaint

Defendants conduct is particularly egregious because it compromises the legitimacy of our judicial system. Courts depend heavily upon the perceived integrity and efficiency of private arbitration. Indeed, California and other states fostered the growth of the arbitration industry by streamlining the process of converting arbitration awards into judgments, as evidenced in Defendants’ Notice of Arbitration: “AN ARBITRATION MAY BE ENFORCED IN COURT AS A CIVIL JUDGMENT.” Defendants exploited this public interest opportunity by perverting private arbitration into an unregulated trough for themselves and the collections industry. Creditors who took their business to Mann Bracken and NAF did not have to worry about losing, which is exactly how Defendants appealed to large creditors and dominated the consumer debt arbitration market for years. Indeed, while holding itself out to the public as an independent and neutral. “[b]ehind closed doors, NAF [sold] itself to lenders as an effective tool for collecting debts.” BusinessWeek recently uncovered shocking examples of NAF’s marketing to debt collectors, including a late 2007 “confidential” Powerpoint presentation aimed at creditors that promised, among other things, “marked increase in recovery rates over existing collection methods.” The process of legitimizing alternative dispute resolution as an industry can only begin by requiring Defendants to disgorge their ill-gotten gains.


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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

41 Comments

  1. Alicia

    May 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I had a debt with Mann Bracken and I wasn’t aware that they had been awarded a judgement until we attempted to refinance our house.  I am prepared to pay the amount ($1200), but I’ve found out they they are no longer in business.  I have not heard from any other collection agency in the past 2 years and my original creditor (Capital One) has no record of the debt under my name and/or SS#.  What should I do now?

    • Steve Rhode

      May 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Dispute the debt with the credit bureau. If they can’t verify the current debt owner they will remove it.

  2. Allbest

    July 26, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Mann Bracken cannot collect the arb awards from October 2001-July 2009,  I see no way the debt could get passed to someone else at the conclusion of the National Class Action, where would the benefit for the Class be if that was allowed.  All claims between the Plaintiff Class and Defendant’s should be released according to the proposed settlement.

  3. ConfusedAndUpset

    May 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I had settled my $4,200something debt with Chase through Mann Bracken for a lump payment of $3,100something dollars. Recently I received a phone call from one of my other creditors saying that I was being penalized for having a negative reflection on my credit that was recent to this year. I said “there’s no way, I haven’t done anything negative in a couple of years, and the only negative thing I’ve ever had on my report was a settlement from 2008.” They said “I cannot go over specifics, but according to our records you are in default with a current creditor.” I was stunned! So I checked my credit report, and sure enough, the $1,100something dollars that was “forgiven” as part of the settlement is being reported by Chase as a “Charged Off” amount BALANCE over 120 days past due. Okay, first of all, I have a 1099-C which states that $1,100something as CANCELLED debt, and paid taxes out the ying-yang for it. Secondly, how they can claim this as both CHARGED OFF and a BALANCE? Shouldn’t this be a $0 balance with a changed off amount of the $1,100something? So I’ve been battling with Chase, and of course they have records of sending the 1099-C and of the large lump payment sent to them in January of 2008, but they’re claiming they don’t have any indication that the lump sum was the settlement amount and that they’ll continue to claim the charge off as a balance unless I can get a letter from the people with whom I’ve settled, which they know is Mann Bracken, which they ALSO know is out of business… So what the hell? Asking me to get a letter from a company that DOESN’T EXIST is like telling me to get them a 50 cent piece from the Tooth Fairy! What am I supposed to do? Credit Reporting agencies have NOT helped me ONE bit, even though there’s a TON of evidence for my case, just not this 1 measely letter that unfortunately I don’t know WHAT happened to it. When I had dealt with Mann Bracken and sent that payment I was given the impression that everything was taken care of, and being a naive 20 year old, I believed it…… fast forward, I’m frusterated and fighting with Chase constantly and getting nowhere. Isn’t this against the Fair Credit Reporting Act somehow? How can they claim balance AND claim tax on the same amount of money?! WTF? Don’t I have any rights???????

    • Steve Rhode

      May 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I understand your confusion and I’m afraid I don’t have loads of good news about this.

      Unless you have a written agreement that the settled amount is satisfaction of the full debt from Chase then you don’t have a rock solid settlement. Without that agreement then just because a debt is charged off and reported on a 1099 does not make the matter closed.

      A charge off is an accounting function and a 1099 is a reporting function. See this other article I wrote, “Debt Settlements May Be Voided And the Money Due Anyway.”

      Steve

  4. WCruz

    March 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I called the three credit bureaus (transunion, equifax, expirian) they have no record of my debt associated with mannbracken. They did find other collection agency’s who had this debt at some point but kept on selling it to other agency’s. They told me they would call each of these creditors and dispute the debt. Which in other words means they will find out if they still have the debt or if they sold it. Which in this case they sold it (mannbracken) so they will just clear up that item under my credit file.

    To anyone with concerns. Call the credit bureaus and tell them you have paid it off. They will find out who has it. If mannbracken still has yours and they dont report back to the bureaus then it will just be removed off your credit file. The reason why is because the collectors have 30 days to respond back to bureaus…so its to their benefit.

    Mannbracken will not respond because they are not in business…Good luck!

  5. Mark Hankins

    March 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    While it’s true the debts don’t pop like soap bubbles, it’s equally true that with each passing day they march toward the statute of limitations, while the documentation and testimony needed to prove a case gets likelier to be unavailable.
    In many jurisdictions a second dismissal without prejudice operates as one with prejudice–the cases now have one strike where two make an out. Debtors may not be out of the woods but they’re definitely better off.

  6. kp

    March 1, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Now, what does this mean for Sherman Aquisition, Resurgent Capital, LVNV Funding, Central Credit Service, ARS, all of them are owned or affiliated with Mann Bracken. Does this mean these companies are done also?
    Anyone know?
    Does anyone know what California is doing, following along with the rest I sure hope.
    Thank you,

  7. kp

    March 1, 2010 at 5:59 am

    If I read correctly the paperwork that is being shown on the internet concerning Mann Bracken states “District Court Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn ordered that the cases estimated in the tens of thousands be disnissed, a monumental effort for an already overburdened system.”
    Mann Bracken can’t continue handling the cases it had filed against consumers on behalf of creditors. I know you have to check your state but looks like everyone is following in order.
    The creditors already wrote these debts off, then sold them off to Bracken and the original creditor has nothing to do with the debt any longer. That is what Bracken does buys junk debts. So, why are you people trying to pay him still? You can’t pay your original creditor, they have no record and are done with it when Bracken got it.
    If I were you I would hold my money. Stop trying to locate a place to pay it.
    Am I missing something here? Sounds to me like its done! The theif is in trouble now. About time!!!
    Took too long for someone to do something about those guys.
    Also, the BALTIMORE SUN HAS THE ARTICLE IM READING.FEB26,2010

    • Steve Rhode

      March 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

      KP,

      As far as I am aware the actions against Mann Bracken only have to do with their ability to operate as a collection agency. All accounts they were agents for will be reassigned by the original creditors. Any debts they might have owned will be sold most likely. The active cases were dismissed but can be refilled.

      Just because a debt is charged off does not make it not collectible.

      Steve

  8. Jen

    January 29, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Per your advice I called FIA (debt was originally MBNA), they referred me to Zwicker & Assoc, who now is responsible for my account. I just received a 30-day notice from Zwicker today. I had a settlement agreement with Mann Bracken on this account w/only 4-5 payments remaining. What is the best way to enforce Zwicker to accept my agreement with MB? After all, if MB didn’t shut down, I wouldn’t need to deal with Zwicker.

    • Steve Rhode

      January 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Jen,

      If Zwicker doesn’t show only the 4 payments remaining I would dispute the debt in writing and ask them to prove it.

      Steve

  9. SCOTT O

    January 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I settled with Mann Bracken last January. Now that their sunk, will I still get a 1099-C form for the debt that was cancelled?

    • Steve Rhode

      January 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

      Scott,

      You should but at this point, who knows. They may have already reported it to the IRS.

      Steve

      • SCOTT O

        January 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm

        Steve thanks,

        I tried to call them to get the figures I need. All I have is a letter for the settlement amount, but not the original amount that was being contested. I refinanced by home, and my financier was nice enough to take if upon her self to negotiate my debt, all she could provide me was the settle ment letter and a low end/high end number that she got off of my credit report. I also paid on the debt for two years through the Walpoff/Bracken website, with one more year remaining. The month before we closed on the re-finance I called to make a partial payment because times were tight. Mann told us it was ok. When we went to refi the next month, they said I broke the settlement contract with the partial payment and we had to re-negotiate the amount, especially when they found out we were re-financing and they probably sniffed some home equity may be up for grabs. What a mess!!!!!! Is there still a legit number that they can be reached at, or are they totaly shut down?

        • Steve Rhode

          January 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

          Scott,

          They are gone and the offices are empty. There is nobody to call.

          You’ll have to contact the original creditor and ask them for an accounting. Mann Bracken was the agent for them unless Mann Bracken had bought your debt.

          Steve

  10. Steve Rhode

    January 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Here is an update with new information what happened to Mann Bracken. See my article “Yep, It’s Official Mann Bracken Out of Business. Ordered to Cease All Debt Collection Activity.”

    • Rich A

      January 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      I have been dealing with MannBracken for a while, couple of years..Not sure who the original creditor was with at this point?Please Advise. What will happen if I wait until I am contacted by the new colection agency??

      • Steve Rhode

        January 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

        Rich,

        You are always better being proactive rather than waiting for bad news to rain down on you. Get a copy of your consolidated credit report and that will show you who the creditor is.

        Steve

        • Rich A

          January 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

          Thank you..any advice on what is the best way to do that –there seems to be so many different ways to get it.

          • Steve Rhode

            January 27, 2010 at 8:49 am

            Rich,

            To get “it”, what is it?

            Steve

  11. Stephen

    January 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Ok, so here’s what I found out. I’m guessing the situation will be similar with most people.

    First, I contacted the court clerk for General Sessions Civil Court in my city (Knoxville, TN). The clerk was as baffled as we are. Her only solution was for me to make my payments to my original creditor and send the payments through her office to be rerouted. While this sounded “plausible”, I wanted to make sure.

    My debt is a credit card with Target National Bank so I called Target, directly. They are in the process of moving all accounts being held by Mann Bracken to another payment collecting agency, but in the interim, they have set up a payment processing center for my payments to be be sent to directly. The Target representative said that I would be contacted by new collection agency regarding future payments once all is settled, but until then, to continue making my payments to Target National Bank itself.

    Yes, Mann Bracken is gone, but make no mistake folks. Our debts are still owed and our creditors are no dummies. If Target has their situation in hand, I’m sure most other creditors do, as well.

    • Lori

      January 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

      Thanks for the information. I’ll contact my creditor as well. I have been trying to get through to legal aid since 9:30 this morning (per the instructions from Magistrate Court of GA) and the line has been busy. Trust me I know my debt is still owed and I’m glad I have good records to show my pay history just in case the records received by the new collection agency shows something different.

  12. Lori

    January 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Steve, I took your advice and contacted the Clerk of Courts Friday. They sent me to Magistrate Courts who in turn told me to contact legal aid. I have a phone appt with legal aid on Tuesday. I will post their recommendation on how I should handle. I’m in GA so I’m sure the advice will be State specific.

  13. Stephen

    January 23, 2010 at 10:39 am

    As a couple other people have commented, my payment has not been drawn either. I made my January payment via the Wolfpoff Law URL (http://www.paymbw.com/index.htm) and after waiting 11 days, I contacted my credit union to ask about inquiries from Mann Bracken. My credit union representative told me that no attempt had been made to draw from my account.

    I live in Tennessee and plan to contact my General Sessions Court Clerk on Monday to see what, if anything, I am required to do. If I find out anything, either positive or negative, I’ll post the info.

    • Steve Rhode

      January 24, 2010 at 9:15 am

      Stephen,

      From all appearances it looks like Mann Bracken is now essentially out of business. Here is what I would urge anyone with a Mann Bracken payment to do.

      If you owe a creditor: Call the creditor directly immediately and ask for advice on how to make your payment.

      If you are paying on a judgment or court ordered payment: Call the clerk of the court from where the judgment was issued and ask for advice.

      Bottom Line for all, just because Mann Bracken fails it does not change the fact a debt is owed.

      Steve

  14. HENRY A. TURNER, ATTORNEY AT LAW

    January 23, 2010 at 9:59 am

    IT GETS EVEN MORE INTERESTING. ON DECEMBER 29, 2009, FIA CARD SERVICES (FORMERLY MBNA) FILED A CROSS-COMPLAINT AGAINST MANN BRACKEN, LLP IN A CASE BROUGHT AGAINST FIA, MANN BRACKEN AND OTHERS BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CITY ATTORNEY. THE FIA CROSS COMPLAINT ALLEGES PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE AND BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY AGAINST MANN BRACKEN.

    • Steve Rhode

      January 24, 2010 at 9:07 am

      Henry,

      Oh, that’s a really good argument.

      Steve

    • San Bailey

      February 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      I’ve been paying this firm since 11/07, but in 01/10 they didn’t cash my check. They have added fees on to my balance and it’s like I’m not paying anything. I have all my receipts ,this debt is paid but who do I go to? their line is always busy.

  15. Lori

    January 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I am in the same situation as Jen. However, I attempted to call 3 different numbers (I live in GA) one of the local # is constantly busy and the other number just rings, the 800 number for MD is temporarily disconnected and the (240) # just rings. I need to know if I should send the January payment or wait until I am contacted. This was a court order so I don’t want to make matters worse for myself.

    • Steve Rhode

      January 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      Lori,

      Call the clerk of the court where the order was issued and ask for advice.

      Steve

  16. Jen

    January 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I have been paying Mann Bracken on a settlement for ~7 months now. I mailed my December payment but the check never was cashed. The next scheduled payment is due next week (1/28). I was supposed to have this settlement paid off in April ’10. I live in FL

    What should I do about this situation (above)?

    • Steve Rhode

      January 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Jen,

      Have you called them and asked?

      Steve

      • Jen

        January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

        All the numbers I have for them say the number has been temporarily disconnected

        • Steve Rhode

          January 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

          Jen,

          I’m checking with a regulator friend of mine in Maryland.

          Steve

        • Anthony

          February 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

          I was told by an attorney, that if they are out of business, the creditor assumes responsibility for contacting you if there is a settlement.And they are responsible for contacting you of the new debt collector and honroing the settlement.

          He recommended I save the money I owe, 1800 left and then when contacted pay it off. He said keep the settlement letter and keep records of the payments they have taken out of my account. Of which I’ve kept record of every withdrawl they’ve made to the letter.

        • Jen

          February 18, 2010 at 1:19 pm

          I received a call from Zwicker & Assoc. regarding this account – they are taking over the account. They are honoring the prior settlement.

  17. Mark S. Hankins

    January 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I’m hoping that any consumers sued on credit cards with a mandatory NAF arbitration clause will be able to press a demand to arbitrate there and turn that demand into a successful motion to dismiss with prejudice (terminate the case for good) when arbitration before the NAF proves impossible.

    In other words, I hope it’s a massive “Get Out of Jail Free” card!

    • Robert Webb

      June 12, 2010 at 7:31 am

      I’m hoping for jail time for Bank executives who subscribed to this racketeering scheme. Any word on criminal charges?

  18. going after mann bracken

    January 14, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’d recommend complaining to Chris Bracken himself, his contact details are available from the Georgia Bar.

    Mann Bracken is not bankrupt. If he does not provide the desired result, bring a lawsuit against him personally. He is a member (partner) of the firm.
    .-= going after mann bracken´s last blog ..Chris Bracken – Current Contact Details =-.

    • Steve Rhode

      January 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. I actually went over to your site through your name link and got the email address. brackenwc@gmail.com

      Steve

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