And the District Attorneys approve. The collectors add a fee to amount owed. The fee goes for classes on how to stay out of financial trouble. The D.A.s offices get part of the fee.
More than 300 D.A.s are doing this. Mostly on the west coast. One borrower said she was threatened with legal action over a $47.95 bounced check to Walmart. The letter said she owed $280.05 – including $180 for a financial class. The county District Attorney signed the letter.
The D.A.s say the money collected is returned to the creditors with no public cost for legal action.
Opponents of the practice say bill collectors are threatening debtors with prosecution. They charge the District Attorneys with renting out their stationery.
The threats are working. Millions of dollars have been repaid to Walmart, Safeway, Target and other big stores.
No one really knows if the debtors are crooks or people who made a mistake. Very few people take the financial classes. There are very few prosecutions. Law suits against the collection companies are being filed in many places.
The two big collection companies in the business are CorrectiveSolutions and BounceBack.