CHARLENE CROWELL

CHARLENE CROWELL

When many consumers think of billion-dollar industries, banks and Wall Street often come to mind. Yet there is another industry in the same lucrative league that affects over 70 million consumers each year: debt collection.

In recent years, debt collection has consistently topped the list of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and state Attorneys General. Further and according to the CFPB, more than 25 federal debt collection cases have been filed for deceiving and abusing consumers. Collectively, the cases have brought more than $300 million in restitution and another $100 million in civil penalties have resulted from these filings.

As state legislatures convene across the country for 2017 sessions, it appears that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators has taken note of the harms that are caused by illegal debt collection practices. An NBCSL resolution calling for an end to abusive debt collection practices was ratified during the group’s annual December meeting.

Sponsored by North Carolina’s Senator Floyd B. McKissick Jr., the resolution notes that “the overwhelming majority of people who are in debt and being pursued by debt collectors are not in debt by choice; but due to circumstances such as unexpected job loss, divorce or other marital problems, and serious illness.”

Many Black neighborhoods are more likely to have residents with debts in collection.  The resolution further states that our neighborhoods also have double the number of debt judgments compared to White areas—regardless of income levels.

“Unfair, abusive, and deceptive debt collection practices are hurting consumers and as a result, court judgments are entered against people for debts they do not legally owe”, said Sen. McKissick.

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