This is because district attorney and debt collectors have started teaming up to scare bad check writers into paying up.
What happened to one California woman
As an example of this new tactic, one California woman bounced a check for $47.85 to Wal-Mart and was and threatened with jail time.
This new tactic has spread to more then 300 prosecutors’ offices. He way it works is that a signed letter is sent out on DA letterhead threatening jail time unless the person receiving the letter immediately pays the check and for a “financial accountability” class.
Even small amounts
You could get this treatment if you bounced just a small check. The California woman, a single mom, said she was unaware that a check she had written to Wal-Mart for $47.85 had bounced. Then she received a letter from her local district attorney’s office that she better pay $280.05 or could be jailed for up to a year.
Using intimidation tactics like this is nothing new in the world of debt collection. Even a school such as the Medical Center of the University of Minnesota is being investigated for allegedly harassing sick patients into paying their bills by threatening to cut off their medical care.
The debt collection industry is a $12 billion a year industry and collectors are now chasing nearly 30 million people. You can see from this why collectors are increasing their strong arm tactics.
The debt collectors who send out these letters have no legal authority to do so. However, they are able to use the official seal and name of the prosecutor’s office threatening prosecution and the possibility of jail time to get the debtor to pay up. These weasels also try to dupe people into spending another $170 or so for a class on “financial responsibility.” Believe it or not, this money is then split between the collection agency and the prosecutor’s office.”
That California woman
The California woman who had been told she must pay $280.05, which included a class on financial responsibility, eventually paid Wal-Mart $100.05 and decided she would just take her chances on the rest.
You do have rights
Several years ago the U.S. Congress passed a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Its purpose is to protect consumers from unscrupulous debt collectors. It includes provisions such as debt collectors are not supposed to call you before 8 AM and after 9 PM. They are also barred from calling you at work or continually harassing you. If a collector is calling you at all hours of the night and day, at work or threatening you with legal action, you do have options. The first is to send the collector a “cease and desist” letter telling him or her that you do not wish to be contacted again. You need to send the letter Certified and Return Receipt Requested, so you will have proof that the collection agency did receive your letter. If the collector continues to call and harass you, you can report it to your state’s attorney general’s office or even hire an attorney and sue it. However, many of the really aggressive debt collection agencies are located offshore so they can’t be sued.
A better alternative
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