There’s a story making the rounds on the Internet currently about a woman in Texas who says a collection agency has been calling her and threatening to sue her sister over a debt. The kicker is that the sister died in 2005 at the age of 18.

One media outlet wrote a fair and proper piece on the incident. One did not.

It’s a horrible position for any person to be in, to be hounded over a debt attributable to a long-deceased relative. And that’s what initially attracted Houston TV station KHOU to the story. The CBS affiliate was the first to run anything on the matter.

After actually investigating the claims, the consumer investigation desk at the station – the 11 News I-Team – reported that it could not find any record of a company using the name given to the consumer. A check with the local Better Business Bureau yielded similar results. And when they tried to call a number left on a message, they got no response.

The station’s conclusion in its story: it was a phony debt collector, a scam.

Contrast that conclusion with the tone of another piece run by the Huffington Post on the exact same story. Writing about the KHOU report, the Huffington Post article noted that debt collection is the most complained-about industry, a common insertion in any story about debt collection.

But most shockingly, the article claimed that help might be on the way in the form of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) when it begins to supervise the 175 largest ARM firms in the country.

How will that help with scam collection agencies? It doesn’t say.

Of course, anyone in the industry knows that the two are completely unrelated. The CFPB will be examining the largest collection agencies, all multi-million dollar enterprises, to ensure they are complying with federal laws, assess their processes for risk to consumers, and learn more about the debt collection industry in general. Supervision of these larger firms will not do anything to address scam, rogue, or phony debt collection abuse.

That doesn’t matter, though, to most that cover this industry. There is no distinction made between legitimate businesses that collect legitimate debt from people and criminals that call consumers in obvious scam attempts. And balanced reporting on the matter, like that found in the KHOU story, gets quickly drowned out by the quick-hitting pieces like the one run in the Huffington Post.


Next Article: Indiana Debt Collection Laws: Start Your Engines