According to the report:
As the report notes, even when alleged debtors are actually on the “right side of the law” they are typically unable to make an adequate defense of their case against the debt buyers’ lawyers. As a result, the lawsuits “typically play out before the courts with a stark inequality of arms, pitting unrepresented defendants against seasoned collections attorneys.”
Punctuated with testimony of the those who have been captured between the aggressive tactics of the debt buyer firms and the seeming indifference of the courts, the report highlights interviews with alleged debtors who described struggling to pay utility bills, buy food, or secure basic needs for their children because of adverse judgments related to debts they may not have even be responsible for.
“I don’t have money for my baby’s diapers,” said a single mother interviewed in a Detroit courthouse. She told HRW that a debt buyer had won a judgment against her in a case she never received proper notice of and had no opportunity to answer. “My lights and gas is off right now. My paycheck is about $300 a week and sometimes I only bring home $220. I can’t afford [the garnishment] out of my check.”
Albin-Lackey said this systematic injustice and mistreatment, especially when it comes to the court’s role, must come to an end.
“Courts should find ways to assist alleged debtors who don’t have legal representation instead of stacking the odds still further against them,” he said. “Debt buying corporations should not be entitled to judgments en masse without evidence simply because defendants fail to mount an effective defense in court.”
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