Consumers surprised by debt collector’s tactics

News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) –  Gay Morgan was caught off guard when she looked at her paycheck.

“Half of it was gone,” said Morgan.

Her wages had been garnished.

“All of a sudden my paycheck started to be gone,” said Greg Menges.

His wages were garnished by $800 a month.

And Kourtni Haskell said her paycheck garnished as well.

“I was shocked and really upset with the fact that it was, basically going behind my back,” said Haskell.

Debt collectors like Portfolio Recovery Associates and Wakefield and Associates are suing them to collect debts.

Tyler Ayres represents the trio and said his clients aren’t notified prior to being sued.

“I believe they’re absolutely going behind people’s back because they thrive off of default judgments,” said Ayres.  “(These are) judgments where nobody is represented.”

Five years ago, Capitol One claimed Morgan owed $1,200.

“I told them I never had a credit card with Capital One,” Morgan said.

Morgan claimed she was a victim of identity theft and twice sent them a police report.  She never heard from Capital One again.

Until five years later when her wages were garnished.

“I mean I don’t make that much and they’re going to take my money from me now?” Morgan said.

Before going to court, the Better Business Bureau said consumers need to be contacted.

“They should be trying to call the actual person that has the debt,” Jane Driggs said.  “They should be sending them a letter giving them information about it and they should contact them again if they don’t pay.”

ABC4 attempted to contact Wakefield and attorneys for Capital One.  But calls were not returned.

An attorney representing Portfolio and associates referred ABC4 News to the court case involving Menges.

In court documents, Portfolio Recovery claimed Menges was “served at last known address” and it can’t be contested because a “judgment was already entered.”

Menges’ attorney claimed the address they referred to belonged to the ex-wife of his former business partner.

“The hardest thing is I’ve never been told what was going on,” Menges said.  “I was never served any papers.”

Morgan’s attorney succeeded in stopping the garnishment but her battle is still continuing in court.

“It’s not right that people can just do this,” she said.  “I’ve been spending many sleepless nights because of this.”

State law doesn’t regulate debt collectors.  The Federal Trade Commission does and has in the past. In a major victory for New York consumers, the FTC filed documents in support of the lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general.

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