It’s an outrage that Public Citizen has been fighting in court for a few years: Debt collection companies send ominous letters on district attorney’s office letterhead to people who bounce checks for a small amount. They threaten the check writers with criminal prosecution and jail if they don’t pay not only the amount of the bounced check, but also excessive collection fees. The thing is, accidentally bouncing a check is not a crime. The fees the collection companies demand, by the way, are as high as $200, even for checks of $10. We say that this violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits deception or abuse by debt collectors. So far, we’ve done well in court.
Today we see the results of an investigation into the scam by ProPublica and CNN. Now that’s good TV. Let’s hope some lawmakers are watching.