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DEBT Collectors Partner with Prosecutors

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In exchange for a fee, district attorneys’ offices have been allowing debt collectors to use their letterhead when going after people behind on their bills.

More at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/business/in-prosecutors-debt-collectors-find-a-partner.html?hp

I was just about to post this. OMG! It would be like Christmas getting something like that. I would argue that by renting out the stationary and signature, by accepting a fee and by not actually reviewing the case prior to allowing the signature to be used, the DAs were not acting in their capacity as a DA, but were rather acting solely as debt collectors, and thus they had no immunity from my FDCPA lawsuit that named them personally. I would be going for a major smackdown! Bar complaints, consumer law, the whole shebang.

Some highlights:

Prosecutors say that the partnerships allow them to focus on more serious crimes, and that the letters are sent only to check writers who ignore merchants’ demands for payment. The district attorneys receive a payment from the firms or a small part of the fees collected.

Yeah, BS. You want to play debt collector, you should be subjected to the FDCPA. Your signature carries an implication of major authority. You don't review the case prior to allowing the use of your signature? Guess what bud, somebody is going to test the bounds of immunity for prosecutors, and you might lose on this one. Somebody is also going to sue whatever city/county you work for, and there will be no immunity there.

What Ms. Pepper did not know was that her bad check was sent directly from the merchant to the debt-collection company, without any prosecutor determining whether she had actually committed a crime.

No review? Yeah, screw you Mr. DA. It's going to be tough to argue that you were acting as a DA here, you stupid shill.

As of July, CorrectiveSolutions had sent out 16,955 letters on behalf of the Los Angeles district attorney, and during that time 635 people attended the program’s classes, county data show. While few people will be prosecuted for not attending the class, there is a possibility of charges, Ms. Cruz said.

17k letters? I think that counts as regularly attempting to collect debts.

“I view it as quite a win-win,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger. “You aren’t criminalizing someone who shouldn’t have a criminal record, and you are getting the merchant his money back.” On its Web site, CorrectiveSolutions says that its classes result in low rates of recidivism.

Well, Mr. Shellenberger, I view it as a "You just stepped into the arena where federal consumer protection law is king." If you don't think that somebody should have a criminal record, don't threaten them with one. Your signature does exactly that. The company you are shilling for is also going to be taken to task on this too. It'll be painful.

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Section 1983 Blog: A Brief Summary of Prosecutorial Immunity

Read that blog. It seems as though the DAs would have no immunity in this case. Once you slapped that argument down, you would then need to prove that you are a consumer, the alleged debt was a consumer debt, that the DA collects or attempts to collect debts due or asserted due another on a regular basis, and that the use of the DA's signature on DA letter head was a violation of the FDCPA.

Seriously though, this is a heinous abuse of the system. It is turning publicly funded district attorneys' offices into private arms of the collection industry. It needs to be halted immediately.

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Actually, an arrangement like this could expose the local DA to significant liability... if someone like me were to pin an FDCPA on a prosecutor, not only am I suing for that violation, but I will make sure they are run out of office and disbarred.

:)

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Actually, an arrangement like this could expose the local DA to significant liability... if someone like me were to pin an FDCPA on a prosecutor, not only am I suing for that violation, but I will make sure they are run out of office and disbarred.

:)

Yup. I would be suing for the multitude of violations that it brings about, including engaging as business as a collection agency in my state without a license to do so. That's a nice little felony.

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