The recent financial scandal in Minnesota has certainly not managed to escape the intense press coverage it has received, following Minnesota’s Attorney General suing a debt collector after steep interest rates were charged on overdrawn checking accounts.
The Attorney General, Lori Swanson, stated that Bradstreet and Associates, who are based in Minneapolis, broke Minnesota state law by charging up to 21.75% interest on bank debt. The lawsuit involves unknown interest costs which they were pursuing from those with overdrawn Wells Fargo and US Bank accounts. She says exactly what everybody is thinking; that “companies have the right to collect a legitimate debt, but should not be charging people interest that they don’t owe”. Plus, the assessed interest rates were definitely not included in the customers’ original banking contracts.
Clearly, charging people these steep and outrageous interest rates is not right in any circumstances. It is said by Swanson that as many as 16,000 customers in Minnesota have been and could be affected by this, but the case filed is, fortunately, looking to put a stop to these collection practices. Jennifer Dahlke of Minnesota fell victim to Bradstreet’s cunning actions. She says that she felt scammed by Bradstreet and intimidated by its aggressive attempts to collect debt on $2,073 in bank overdrafts and that they also took her to court to demand that she pay over $2,000 more on top of the original debt. Not only this, but they also pursued her elderly parents to cover her debt costs. “I felt helpless, hopeless, and alone” Dahlke admits.
As for Bradstreet’s response to the situation, they have been vague. Calls made by the Associated Press to Bradstreet did not go through, and they did not reply quickly to an e-mail requesting them to give a comment on the matter.
The banks affected by the scandal, on the other hand, are completely on the side of Lori Swanson, and wish to co-operate fully with the investigation. Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, corporate relations vice president for the US Bank says, “We support the attorney general’s efforts to crack down on fraudulent debt collection practices”. However, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo did not comment. This has come as a surprise to many, considering this was one of the two banks whose customers were charged ridiculous interest rates.
In conclusion, Bradstreet’s unfair and unlawful collection practices have damaged their reputation for good; thousands of bank customers in Minnesota have suffered because of these bogus interest rates, but luckily it is something that the Minnesota A.G., Lori Swanson, will not ignore.