Debt Collection ‘Factory’ Lawsuit

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/debt-collection-agency-lawsuit_n_5585264.html

Debt Collection ‘Factory’ Preyed On Broke Americans: Lawsuit

A federal watchdog is suing a collection agency that allegedly operated like a “factory”churning out lawsuits against cash-strapped borrowers, often using misleading, deceptive and illegal practices.

The suit is the latest effort by regulators to crack down on debt collection abuse. The billion-dollar industry has ballooned in size over the past two decades and is under fire for filing wrongful lawsuits against vulnerable borrowers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Monday that it had sued Frederick J. Hanna & Associates, a Georgia-based law firm that sues consumers for old, outstanding debts owed to banks, debt buyers and credit card companies.

The complaint against Hanna & Associates alleges that the firm operated as a lawsuit “factory,” cranking out more than 350,000 suits in Georgia alone since 2009. What’s more, the company operates with a skeleton staff of eight to 16 lawyers who merely put their signature on lawsuits, while the bulk of the work at the firm is performed by “automated processes” and non-attorney staff, according to the CFPB complaint.

In 2009 and 2010, the suit claims, a single lawyer at the company signed off on about 138,000 lawsuits, an average of about 1,300 a week. Such a feat would seem to test the limits of physical endurance. The firm’s lawyers were expected to spend “less than a minute” looking at each lawsuit before signing it, the suit contends.

The CFPB complaint names the law firm’s president, Frederick Hanna, and two of the company’s managing partners. It is asking for the firm to be fined, for its victims to be compensated, and for an injunction against the company and its partners.

The website for Hanna & Associates, which was founded in 1981, describes the company as a law firm dedicated exclusively to “creditors’ rights and recoveries.” Although the agency also has offices in Florida and Missouri, CFPB spokesperson Moira Vahey told HuffPost the agency’s lawsuit focuses on the firm’s alleged activity in Georgia.

Hanna & Associates Managing Partner Joseph C. Cooling said in a statement that the firm strongly denies the allegations.

“Our law firm takes great pride in its commitment to compliance with all consumer protection laws and takes great pains every day to ensure compliance with state civil procedure and evidentiary laws, step by step,” he said.

Businesses hire debt collection firms like Hanna & Associates to recover delinquent debts from consumers. It’s most often credit card debt, but can include things like old cell phone or utility bills. The collection firms are typically paid a fee or a percentage of the debts they successfully collect.

Hanna & Associates’ clients include high-profile banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and Discover, the federal lawsuit says. BofA and Discover declined to comment. The other banks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vahey said the probe is still ongoing. “The Bureau is still collecting evidence and will continue to do so as the case proceeds through the court system,” she said.

Unfortunately, Hanna & Associates’ alleged tactics may not be the problems of just one rogue firm.

“These practices sound so familiar to me when I read this complaint,” said Susan Shin of the New Economy Project, which advocates against predatory debt collection practices. “We’re happy to see that the CFPB is going after these abusive practices. This sounds like it could be brought against a lot of collection firms.”

The CFPB contends that many of the lawsuits filed by Hanna & Associates resulted in default judgments, which occur when a borrower doesn’t show up for his or her court date. Depending on the state, these default judgements sometimes let creditors seize wages and savings or put liens on property.

Yet collectors don’t always do their due diligence in properly tracking down consumers and verifying that the debts are valid. In June, HuffPost profiled a 69-year-old retired veteran who had his mother’s house taken from him over a debt he said he didn’t owe. The veteran, Willie Wilson of Elgin, Texas, said he never even received the notice to come to court.

US Treasury Quietly Ordering “Survival Kits” For US Bankers

Why Is The US Treasury Quietly Ordering “Surival Kits” For US Bankers?

The Department of Treasury is spending $200,000 on survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation. As FreeBeacon reportssurvival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States and includes a solar blanket, food bar, water-purification tablets, and dust mask (among other things). The question, obviously, is just what do they know that the rest of us don’t?

As Free Beacon reports,

 The Department of Treasury is seeking to order survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation.

The emergency supplies would be for every employee at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which conducts on-site reviews of banks throughout the country. The survival kit includes everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets.

The government is willing to spend up to $200,000 on the kits, according to the solicitation released on Dec. 4.

The survival kits must come in a fanny-pack or backpack that can fit all of the items, including a 33-piece personal first aid kit with “decongestant tablets,” a variety of bandages, and medicines.

The kits must also include a “reusable solar blanket” 52 by 84 inches long, a 2,400-calorie food bar, “50 water purification tablets,” a “dust mask,” “one-size fits all poncho with hood,” a rechargeable lantern with built-in radio, and an “Air-Aid emergency mask” for protection against airborne viruses.

Survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States including Bank of America, American Express Bank, BMO Financial Corp., Capitol One Financial Corporation, Citigroup, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Company, and Wells Fargo.

The agency has roughly 3,814 employees, each of which would receive a survival kit. The staff includes “bank examiners” who provide “sustained supervision” of major banks in the United States.

It is not clear why the Treasury Department is ordering the kits.

One can only imagine what the Treasury department is thinking will happen in the near-future… while it is indeed good to be prepared, the timing as domestic social unrest ramps up, the driver of the recovery is crashing, and the Fed has stepped away is ‘odd’ to say the least.

*  *  *

Full OCC RFP below:

Survival Kits RFP

 

 

Libor

Registered Business # CIK#: DUNS #:
Respondent T&C Ref: Other
Rothschild 36 Rothschild Bankers charged
US regulator sues 16 banks for alleged Libor rigging BBC News  A US regulator has sued 16 banks for allegedly manipulating the London interbank offered rate (Libor).
The Libor rate is used to set trillions of dollars of financial contracts, including mortgages and financial transactions around the world.
The regulator said the manipulation caused substantial losses to 38 US banks which were shut down during and after the 2008 financial crisis.
The sued banks include Barclays, HSBC, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Former UBS and Citigroup Trader charged over Libor BBC News

Former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes has been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in connection with its investigation into the manipulation of Libor.

Mr Hayes, 33, has been charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud, and will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.