Sam Glover

Sam Glover has been writing about law practice technology, management, marketing, and other stuff on Lawyerist since 2007. He also consults on appeals and motion practice. When he isn't blogging or lawyering, Sam drinks espresso and sharpens pencils.

ABA: It’s Unethical for Debt Collectors to Use Prosecutors’ Stationery

That title is a little over-simplified, so here is the ABA’s actual summary from Formal Opinion 469:

A prosecutor who provides official letterhead of the prosecutor’s office to a debt collection company for use by that company to create a letter purporting to come from the prosecutor’s office that implicitly or explicitly threatens prosecution, when no lawyer from the prosecutor’s office reviews the case file to determine whether a crime has been committed and prosecution is warranted or reviews the letter to ensure it complies with the Rules of Professional Conduct, violates Model Rules 8.4(c) and 5.5(a).

Basically that says prosecutors who just hand off their stationery to a debt collector (to collect parking fines or fines for bounced checks, for example) are engaging in unethical conduct. If they want to do this, then a lawyer from the prosecutor’s office has to actually take the time to review each file to determine whether a threat of prosecution is actually warranted.

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MN AG Sues TJ Process Service for “Sewer Service”

Sewer service happens when the process server — the person charged with telling the defendant they have been sued — lies about serving it. The Minnesota Attorney General just sued TJ Process Service for exactly that. The owner of the company leaves little room for doubt. Here is his sworn testimony:

Q: [Y]ou believe 100 percent he [Umland] engaged in sewer service?
A: Yes. What percentage and how many times that was, I don’t know.

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Subprime Auto Lenders Hold Your Car Hostage When You Fall Behind

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Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.

About two million vehicles have devices installed that allow a lender to lock out a car from a smartphone. From the Dealbook article: “‘I have disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart,’ said Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Federal Credit Union in Covington, La.”

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Lifetime Student Loans

When you filled out the FAFSA before your freshman year of college, you probably did not consider the chance that you would still be paying off those loans well into retirement.

Rosemary Anderson could be 81 by the time she pays off her student loans.

She is not alone.

For all seniors, the collective amount of student loan debt grew … to about $18.2 billion last year.

In 2010 (I guess that is the most recent year for which there are numbers), 4% of seniors were still paying off their student loans. That is a small percentage, for sure, but it is growing. And most of these senior debtors are probably living on fixed incomes — social security in many cases. That’s probably why 25% of seniors with student loans are in default.

(h/t Legal Skills Prof Blog)

John Oliver on Payday Loans

“Basically, payday loans are the Lay’s potato chips of finance. You can’t have just one and they’re terrible for you.”

Bad Paper: A Debt-Collection Game with Some Questionable Advice

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Felix Salmon built Bad Paper around Jake Halpern’s book and New York Times Magazine piece of the same name. By playing the game, you can put yourself in the shoes of a debtor or collector and explore the different scenarios. You win when you get the case dismissed or collect a judgment.

It’s an interesting exercise, but the game is misleading about what it takes to win in court. According to the game, all you have to do is show up in court and say “Excuse me: Where’s the proof that this is my debt?” to the judge.

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Comcast Won’t Let You Go [UPDATED]

Warning: listening to this phone call may make you want to throw your Comcast modem through the front window of your local Comcast service center.

This tracks pretty closely with my own experience. It took me over six months and multiple phone calls and transfer/disconnection requests to get Comcast to stop charging me for my business Internet connection after I moved out of my office.

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Revenge for a Gym Membership Scam

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Reddit user virinix says he was scammed by GoodLife Fitness back in the 90s. In brief, he signed up for a trial membership, decided to cancel, and canceled his membership before it began. Two years later, the trouble started.

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Federal Government Turns Into Massive Zombie Debt Collector

Three years ago, Congress added this sentence to the farm bill:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, regulation, or administrative limitation, no limitation on the period within which an offset may be initiated or taken pursuant to this section shall be effective.

What that sentence did was remove the statute of limitation on debts owed to the federal government. As a result, according to the Washington Post, the Treasury Department is intercepting hundreds of thousands of tax returns this year, to collect on very old debts, some going back to the 1960s. So far, it has collected something like $75 million using this tactic.

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H&R Block Cosplay

It’s getting close to tax time, and the H&R Block down the street from my house has one of those crazy-wavy-tube-guy things out front. It always reminds me of this video, which makes me crack up:

Speaking of tax preparers, you might be tempted to get your “refund” early by getting a refund anticipation loan. Don’t. As I have written before, refund anticipation loans are basically a payday loan in disguise (i.e., a really bad deal). Skip it, and file your tax return earlier next year if you want to get your refund faster.

Thanks to Tim Hwang for reminding me of the video.