Tell Your Senator: Don't Allow Debt Collectors to Masquerade as Law Enforcement!

No More Action Needed. Thank you for your interest, but the Senate has already voted on this amendment.

 Congress is considering dangerous anti-consumer legislation that would make it OK for debt collectors to masquerade as law enforcement and extort illegal fees from consumers who have made innocent mistakes with their checkbooks, threatening them with jail if they don't pay up. Tell your Senator to oppose this special interest legislation!

In so-called "check diversion" schemes, a private for-profit debt collector rents the name and authority of a district attorney and, using that name and authority, extorts illegal and excessive collection fees as high as $200 from consumers who have bounced checks. (The vast majority of these consumers have bounced checks by accident and usually they are for small amounts in the $10 to $20 range.) The companies falsely tell consumers they will go to jail unless they pay up. In most states, however, bouncing a check is not a crime unless the person who wrote the check intended to defraud someone. These "diversion" schemes ignore that requirement of criminal intent, branding anyone who mistakenly writes a bad check as a criminal in order to take their money.

Public Citizen, through its Consumer Justice Project, has joined class action suits against abusive check diversion companies under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law that prohibits deception and abuse by debt collectors. Now those same companies, armed with expensive lobbyists, have asked Congress to exempt them from the law. Tell your Senator to oppose this dangerous anti-consumer legislation.

December 18, 2018


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