Commenting on the action in California against Rincon, Victoria Kirk, executive director of the California Association of Collectors said that practices alleged in that case were "incredibly rare." (Is that optimism or denial?) "Debt collectors must abide by rules laid out in the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as the state's Rosenthal Act. This is one of the most highly regulated industries imaginable," Kirk told Californiawatch.org.
For now, the U.S. District court has halted Rincon's business while the FTC proceeds with the case.
And that, of course, is an example of the second kind of statistic.
[Resource: Get your free personalized Credit Report Card]
Let's make two assumptions: first, let's assume that if an industry trade group can make unfounded generalizations about the amount of illegality and abuse found in the debt collection business, so can we; second, let's assume that flagrant illegality is incredibly rare—say one in 20 cases, and that abuse is itself rare, say one in 10.
This would mean, if we limited the universe only to complaints made to the FTC, every day in 2010 about 20 consumers were subjected to truly illegal practices, and another 40 were unduly harassed. And all indications are that that number is increasing in 2011. At this point, we're probably above three people per hour—24 hours a day, seven days a week—being persecuted.
In the face of this, Congress, or part thereof, saw fit to continue its effort to render the CFPB impotent by stopping the nomination of Richard Cordray.
So the next time (or if ever) you, your spouse, your significant other, your parent, your child, your sibling, friend or neighbor receives one of those "incredibly rare," yet disturbing, calls from someone who claims that they are owed money—especially if they aren't—think about the gang of 45 and remember this: They didn't come from a test tube. They aren't the descendents of extra-terrestrials. They weren't appointed by Zeus and the Pantheon of gods. They didn't magically appear next to a burning bush.
A bunch of us elected them.
How's that working for you?
Adam Levin is Chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.