The United States courts are reforming how the process of debt collection lawsuits works, especially in the area of default judgments. Despite the positives of reform, there are concerns that the proposed changes will prevent creditors’ legal rights to collect the debts that they are rightfully owed. According to a report by American Banker, “The consumer debt case reforms recently proposed by New York’s chief judge are part of broader regulatory practices occurring in the credit and collection industry.”
Each year, there are tens of thousands of credit collection lawsuits, which are mainly brought by third parties who have purchased large portfolios of delinquent credit card debt. The reforms that are now underway were announced by New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. The hope is that these reforms will ensure a fair legal process.
In an article by ACA International, Lippman is quoted as saying, “While no one disputes that consumers should pay their debts or that businesses have every right to resort to the courts to collect what is legally owed to them, the Judiciary has an obligation to prevent inequitable debt collection practices in the courts and ensure a fair legal process for all litigants.”
On the other hand, there are concerns that the proposed changes will limit creditors’ abilities to use the court system in order to collect the rightfully-owed debts. In a statement to the American Banker by Vice President of Public Affairs, Mark Schiffman states that “ACA International’s members have always followed court rules and will continue that practice.”
After the reforms were announced, the New York Attorney General, Eric T. Shneiderman, issued a statement in regards to dealing with two major debt collectors: Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, and Sherman Financial Group, LLC. According to the statement, the settlements with both Portfolio Recovery Associates and Sherman Financial Group were for repeatedly bringing improper actions against certain New York consumers.
According to ACA International, “The settlements require Portfolio Recovery Associates and Sherman Financial Group to vacate the improper judgments with the court and cease any further collection activities on the judgments, make key enhancements to their debt collection practices, and pay civil penalties and costs to the state in the amounts of $300,000 and $175,000, respectively.”
Lippman stated in an article that he admires a number of states for the consumer credit lawsuit best practices that they use; Maryland, Connecticut, and North Carolina, to name a few. As the reforms are applied to cases related to the credit and collection industry, the hope is that the changes will overflow and apply to all types of litigation.