You can’t make this stuff up, folks: yesterday, Capitol Weekly reported that California State Senator Lou Correa was contacted by a debt collector who had the wrong guy – a totally different “Lou Correa,” who owed Sears $4000. Even after Senator Correa proved to the collector that it had made a mistake, the collector didn’t correct the error. Instead, it handed the account off to another collector, errors intact, and the other collector got a court judgment – all without the Senator’s knowledge. He probably never would have known about it if he hadn’t received a court order telling him that his wages would be garnished in order to pay off the debt.
Luckily for Senator Correa, he has staffers to take care of these things. But what about the average consumer? As we discussed in our recent report on debt collection and debt buying, consumers are frequently contacted or sued for debts that they don’t owe. The problem is that debt collectors and debt buyers can get away with filling court papers that don’t actually prove that they own the debt, or prove that they are suing the right person for the right amount.
Mark Leno, a fellow California Senator, thinks this needs to change – which is why he’s working on a bill, SB 890, that would prevent these kinds of abuses from happening. He told Capitol Weekly why reform is so badly needed:
“You don’t have to prove you’ve got the right debtor,” Leno said. “You don’t have to prove your calculation of the amount owed is correct. You don’t have to prove that you served the debtor at the right address. And you can begin to garnish wages without proof, which is what happened to Lou.”
We couldn’t agree more with Senator Leno – if debt collectors can do this to a state senator, then they can certainly do it to you and me.
For more info and consumer tips on debt collection, click here.
Have you had an experience like Senator Correa’s? If so, please submit your comments.