One of the great things about being an editor for BNN is that I get the strangest E-Mails. Yes I get the usual Viagra and other offers that are not hard to turn down. If I had bothered to reply, in the last month alone I could have ‘increased’ my manhood, become the worlds greatest stud, and be almost $100 million dollars richer. Alas the rigors of being an editor leave little time for these obviosly fun items.

However, it is not just spam emails that I get, I get some very strange real ones.  A case in fact happened today. 20 years ago I was involved in the banking world. Not in the money side, but in the computer area. The Bank involved got swallowed up by Bank Of America in the mid 90’s. The project I worked on involved the rather sleazy world of ‘consumer lending’, financing everything from a Toaster Oven to a Mercedes. Size didn’t matter, only the bottom line mattered. The object of the exercise was to maximize the interest and other charges that could be extracted from the consumer. Every state has different laws, but 140 programmers toiled on this project. We had good teachers. We could finance a $40 Toaster Oven and make $140. Low down payments, and very long payment schedules married to loan sharking interest rates made this a pretty easy task.

Several of our contractors had brand new BMW’s one had a Lotus, I drove a Cadillac (it was not new) others had Mercedes, and just about every other high end car manufacturer you can name. With a $2000 paycheck every week, and this was 1989, there was nothing that we could not do.

Of course this fantasy land could not last. Eventually the bubble burst.

During this time though I had an opportunity to sneak a peek into the very tawdry world of ‘collections’. For those of you not familiar with this term, it is the lender wanting to get his money back. Bad debts are usually sold for pennies on the dollar. The $1000 TV note is sold for $100, the sleazy collection agencies buy this ‘bad paper’ and try to make good the entire $1000. At no point will they reveal that they will settle, law suits are threatened, it is $1000 or nothing.

Of course this tactic is flawed. But few people understand it.

It was with absolute incredulity that I read an email today, it is from a collection agency, I am pretty certain that it is not aimed at me. Anyway, I get an email from http://www.columbiafinancial.us/ (not click-able on purpose). These idiots have a new plan for tracking down miscreants, and it is certainly interesting.

The average lawsuit costs $3500. You can pre-empt  many frivolous suits for only $69.30/month. If you can stop just one per year, this service is paid for 3x over.

So what are these bone heads selling? A database of people who don’t like the collection worlds methods. If you don’t like being harassed at dinner time by a collection agency, sue them!

This ‘upstanding’ company offers a list of ‘litigious debtors’, and provides the sage advice:

In partnership with Columbia Financial International, WebRecon’s FDCPA Litigant Alert empowers you to protect yourself from overly-litigious debtors by allowing you to compare FDCPA/FCRA litigants nationwide with debtors in your own database. Find out immediately if you are collecting against anybody with a history of suing collection agencies.

I’ll translate that into regular speak. If you have some bad paper, we can tell you if it is worth chasing the 10 cents on the dollar. Some ‘clients’ are easy, you call them at dinner time every night, and they eventually cave in and pay the whole deal.

I have a huge problem with debts being sold to begin with. It was debts being sold that has created this Mortgage crisis. It was not the house owner, it was the ponzi scheme behind it.

I suspect that This company needs to be woken up. HELLO. And I am delighted to offer everyone an email address emailwatch@columbiafinancial.us. Of course a company as unlikely as Columbia Financial is probably going to ignore you.

One of the more interesting lines from reading the web page is that consumers have rights. Rights that are often run rough shod over by the Collection world. essentially they offer a service of people to avoid. People that don’t like being bothered at dinner time, people that do not scare easy by some idiot in a phone center. This great company will supply a data base of people to avoid! Why annoy someone  who is going to fight back?

They also have a sister site http://www.webrecon.com/clients/index.php equally silly, and equally upsetting. On this web site they offer the sage advice about perusing debtors:

A smart agency will look at those accounts and make a decision among several options including A) return them to the creditor, B) close them, C) immediately file suit, or D) hand them to their most experienced collector to be processed with extra care, knowing the debtor is prone to sue collection agencies.

It is a sad world we live in. Although I do not condone anyone not paying their bills. The message is clear, if they are causing you grief, sue the b@stards! You will get on the ‘do not call’ list.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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