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A Cause to Support – the ARM Industry Needs To Occupy Wall Street!
I know, I know, we're getting into the game a bit late, but this may be our final, great chance to not only get positive press but to further our own agenda as well. It's time to Occupy Wall Street.
What's that, you say? Leave our comfy desks and auto-dialers and join a bunch of recycled or reincarnated Hippies to bite the manicured fingers on the hand that feeds us, to attack the very same financial institutions which has filled our calling queues and pockets for oh-so-many glorious years? Yes.
Hear me out as I present a considerable number of reasons for us to weigh in on the side of these protestors and others of us who comprise the "99ers." (1% rich; 99% poor)
#OccupyWallStreet (on Twitter) is a movement that began in NYC on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district. The occupiers proclaimed their methods to be non-violent and their purpose to be the ending of the moneyed corruption of this country.
Like a spark to tinder, it caught fire.
What started out as an isolated protest group unacknowledged in the mainstream press has spread nationally and internationally, reaching Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, London, Athens, Sydney, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Milan, Amsterdam, Algiers, Tel Aviv, Portland, Chicago, Palestine, Phoenix, Montreal, Cleveland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Dallas, Orlando and Miami…and on and on.
Notice any positive parallels? Our industry is certainly people-powered, we can be found in cities nationally and internationally, we assert that our methods are non-violent, and our purpose is to…make a buck or two? (That last doesn't seem catchy enough.)
And, we have common ground in attacking Wall Street transgressions. After all, have these people not undermined the very source of our revenue – uncontested debt? Legitimate debt, legitimately owed, has always given our industry a fairly decent shot at working hard to both satisfy our clients and make a fair return on that effort.
Thanks to Wall Street, this is becoming impossible.
Think about it. Even if a debt we are pursuing is undisputed and acknowledged by the debtor, thanks to the ripple effects of the Great Recession (which no one disputes was brought on by the greed and excesses of Wall Street), fully one-sixth of U.S. citizens live in poverty and overall some 18% of our workers are either unemployed or underemployed.
A few examples of the getting-blood-out-of-turnips problem we are facing:
Medical. Roughly 40% of consumer collections is in the medical field. With roughly 50,000,000 Americans without health insurance and health-profiteering unencumbered by legal strictures adding to what is owed, how do we expect to collect from a shrinking pool of those who are still well and still employed?
School Loans. Wall Street moved into "Higher Ed" a few years back by bankrolling For-Profit Colleges. They, in turn, charged excessive tuition (by any standard) and then annually proceeded to dump students into the workforce burdened by tens of thousands of dollars in loans. Student debt is reaching 1 Trillion dollars – already having passed credit card debt – and is seen as the next "meltdown bubble." Student loan default rates are vaulting into the teens, and fully 50% of these defaults are from students who attended for-profit colleges.
Our industry has already begun to collect on those accounts, and we are surely "feeling their pain." Try getting as much as a $50/Month payment out of a kid flipping hamburgers at a local fast-food outlet who is saddled with as much as $100,000 in debt.
In fact, there is a major student-stoked national campaign that is demanding that ALL student loan debt be forgiven – and it is gaining momentum. Put THAT in your portfolio and smoke it.
Credit Cards. Speaking of credit cards – a major source of lust and revenue for debt purchasers as well as traditional agencies – but is it really profitable – or even ethical to collect on? Banks not only ran up these losses by the unconscionable escalation of interest rates and service fees, but then sold our industry hundreds of millions of dollars in "tainted" write-off's which never should have been sent out to third-parties to start.
I am referring, of course, to the famous "Linda Almonte" whistle-blowing case at JP Morgan Chase which is still wending its way through the halls of government oversight agencies. That shoe, when it drops, will not land lightly. It will shake the banking – and our – industry.
Mortgage/Home Loans. Faulty foreclosure paperwork, loans proven to be incomplete and in some cases downright fraudulent, and the outrageous robo-signing of mortgage with or without proper authentication; how it is that not one banker or wall street executive has been arrested?
Things are so rotten in Bankster Land that the Attorney Generals in a number of states are refusing to release a number of our major banks from lender liability. Banks have been seeking broad releases to protect them from legal claims growing out of securitization, servicing, loan costs, unresponsiveness to requests for modification and robo-signed foreclosures, etc. Santa will not grant them their wishes this year.
Collateral Damage. Yep, you know them well – the people who acknowledge their debts, are more than willing to pay them off, but due to job or home loss brought about by a bankrupted economy – have barely enough to meet even basic needs for food and shelter.
Now, let's get back to our thesis – that the ARM Industry would be well-served by joining our young and unemployed friends on the protest lines. Let's let them know that they are not the only ones who feel, in their words, "wronged by the corporate forces of the world" and that "upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors."
As responsible citizens and business owners, we must stand up for the legitimate rights of the debtors, our neighbors.
After all, we want our neighbors to stand up for OUR legitimate rights, yes? See you at "Liberty Square."
Do we need more proof Washington's not working for middle class families? We got it once again this week.
The big banks and their army of lobbyists couldn't stop the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, so now they are trying to undermine its work, enlisting their Republican friends on the Senate Banking Committee to stop the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the agency -- just to try to slow up the agency from doing its work.
It's outrageous -- and we've got to hold them accountable.
I'm starting a petition: Sign on now to call on the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee to protect the interests of middle class families, to confirm a director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and to let the agency do its work.
The goal of this new agency is to protect consumers by ending the tricks and traps and fine print banks have used to make it hard to understand and compare the costs of mortgages and credit cards. We need to hold Wall Street accountable for issuing the kinds of deceptive loans that nearly brought our economy to its knees in 2008.
I fought hard for these new protections and faced an army of lobbyists to hold the banks accountable. I am proud to have been part of the David vs. Goliath effort that led to the passage of this new agency. I was also proud to help set up the new agency over the past year as an assistant to the President.
We've made a lot of progress toward fixing the broken credit markets and preventing the next crisis, but the enemies of reform are at it again.
It's time for Republicans in the Senate to put the interests of hard working middle class families over the special interests of large financial institutions. We've got to speak out and make sure our fellow Americans know the truth.
Sign my petition to Senate Republicans now: Urge them to put the interests of families first and to allow this consumer protection agency to do its work!
We need clear rules to fix broken credit markets, protect consumers, and get our economy growing and creating jobs.
I've made my life's work fighting for middle class families and pushing back against special interests. I know what it means to live one pink slip or one health crisis away from economic disaster, because I did. That's why I'm working so hard to change things.
But I can't do it alone. I need you to stand with me, today. I need you to make this an issue that the Republicans can't duck.
Sign my petition to Senate Republicans now: Urge them to put the interests of families first and to allow this consumer protection agency to do its work!
And I'll make sure the petition and our signatures get delivered to the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee.
Thanks so much for your help.
A Consumer Financial Protection Agency Would Offer Many BenefitsYour editorial "Another Scary Czar" (Oct. 8) appropriately airs many concerns that the financial services industry has about the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). Our organization recognizes the problems and potential excesses CFPA poses. However, one regulator for both originating creditors and debt buyers could eliminate confusion for the financial services industry and consumers alike. CFPA must be given pre-emptive rule-making authority over states, or this super agency will be an ineffective paper tiger with little authority to create protection for consumers nationwide. Debt buyers today operate under state-by-state regulation, with different rules and attitudes about enforcement. Several states have sought short statutes of limitations—as little as three years—along with extinguishing the creditors' rights to collect overdue bills, hoping to protect consumers from the excesses of a small minority of debt collectors. Shortening the time period in which creditors can collect on past due debts further tightens credit standards in order to limit a lender's risk. It leaves many creditors with no choice but to rush to the courtrooms seeking judgments, with the cost of that unnecessary litigation passed on to the consumer. Credit is a simple idea that has become a part of our national fabric, from the loans that make purchasing a home possible, to the revolving credit that makes smaller purchases convenient. It's incredibly hard to protect simple ideas in a single piece of complex legislation. CFPA could be a viable solution to consumer protection, but with federal pre-emption, this one agency could have the ability to protect all consumers and businesses equally. Roger Knauf Executive Director DBA International McLean, Va.
Dear Forbes and Mr. Hawkins,
I am a very busy person and have
never responded to a published article, but I feel compelled to comment on
To Outsmart Your Debt Collector."
The attitude of, "What can I
get away with, or out of because of a meaningless technicality?" is
exactly what our society does not need.
As the owner of an 18-year-old collection
agency, we are swamped with hyper-technical lawsuits from "ambulance
chasing" attorneys and debtors who are searching for a way to get out of
paying a legitimately owed debt. The number of these suits has increased
dramatically over the past few years, and the merit of these suits are
typically laughable with absolutely no damage suffered by
the debtor. The primary reason for this is that attorneys have become aware of
the fact that a third-party debt collector cannot win when sued. It is simply a
matter of how bad you are going to lose. Even if you win in court, you have
lost big-time in that it will likely cost you tens of thousands of dollars to
prove your case. Let's see, settle for $4,000 even though you did nothing wrong
and the charges against you were completely unreasonable or fabricated, or roll
the dice to prove your innocence and spend $30,000 in the process. That is,
$30,000 if you win, and by the way, you will have no meaningful chance of
recovering any of your costs.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (FDCPA) is over 30 years old and largely regulates communication pertaining
to debt collecting. Keep in mind, when FDCPA was crafted over 30 years ago,
answering machines were not even used, let alone faxing, e-mailing, texting,
etc. ... The FDCPA is in desperate need of being updated, and many attorneys
take advantage of this fact. It is filled with vague language and gray areas
that are ripe for misinterpretation, which is just wonderful for low-level
plaintiff's attorneys who are looking to make a quick buck at the expense of
those performing an honest and needed service. Most third-party collectors go
to great lengths and expense in an effort to comply with the FDCPA. Third-party
collectors, at least the vast, vast majority of us, are simply attempting to
get someone, the debtor, to make good on his/her legitimate obligation. What's
not good and noble about that?
It seems that your article actually
encourages bad behavior and "making out" on a trivial technicality.
Just because you can get away with something does not make it right. And I
doubt you would be so keen on technicalities if someone in your family was the
victim of a violent crime and it was found that an arresting officer of the
accused perpetrator mishandled two trivial words in reading Miranda rights to
Maybe that headline could read,
"How to Outsmart Your Arresting Officer After Committing a Violent
I give you the benefit of the doubt
in that most people do not see things from our perspective; however, your
article is disturbing, and it is never "smart" to devoid yourself of
your rightful responsibilities. It is simply immoral!
Press release of the week so far goes to ACA International, the association representing debt collection agencies around the world.
It starts by pointing out that in 2008, complaints about debt collection firms was the number one problem cited by the National Association of Attorneys General. More people complained about debt collectors than they did car salesman, contractors and even telemarketers.
But lest you get the wrong idea, ACA International officials want to make clear that they're really looking out for you. They say they want to find ways to weed out the "small fringe of bad actors."
"There is no place in our industry for debt collectors who cannot treat consumers with dignity and respect," said Rozanne Andersen, the executive vice president and general counsel for ACA International. "The members of ACA International do not condone nor endorse any illegal, unethical or deceptive tactics when it comes to collectors contacting consumers."
To that end, the ACA board recently agreed to "explore the development of a national debt collection dispute resolution program."
It also "gave a green light this summer to further discussion on and research the concept of creating a national debt-collector registry."
So the group will "explore the development" of a mediation panel and have "further discussion" on "the concept" of creating a national registry.
Wow, that sort of bold action will send the "bad actors" scurrying for cover.
I am intrigued, though, by the debt-collector registry idea.
Do you suppose they'll have to alert nearby homeowners when they move into a new neighborhood?
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