On Tuesday, the FTC will hold a free roundtable in San Francisco, open to the public, on debt collection litigation and arbitration. The FTC is seeking public comments in advance of the event, and some of the existing public comments are, well, interesting.
Debt buyers Midland Credit Management, Asset Acceptance, and Portfolio Recovery Associates whine that they are subjected to a higher standard in litigation. I thought their public comments very funny, and very misleading.
In fact, Midland, Asset Acceptance, and Portfolio Recovery want a lesser burden. They would like state courts to accept their hearsay affidavits and unfounded documents as evidence, even though they would be tossed out in any other case. They do not want to have to bring witnesses to testify to the authenticity of those documents, even though witnesses would be required in any other civil lawsuit.
When the National Consumer Law Center recommends (PDF) that debt collectors should be required to produce, at a minimum, some evidence that the consumer actually owes the debt, and that the debt buyer du jour actually owns the debt, it is not asking for a higher burden. It is asking for fundamental fairness and due process. Consumers are entitled to that much, at least.
You can let the FTC know your thoughts by submitting a public comment of your own. Public comments are due by Tuesday, September 1st.