This morning, a story aired on National Public Radio (NPR) about the increasing coverage given to consumers being thrown in jail on charges of not showing up to court to answer debt collection lawsuits.
Like most stories on the matter, NPR used an anecdotal example to highlight a very complex issue. Greater attention is being paid to the process of judges issuing warrants for consumers failing to appear in court to defend themselves against collection suits filed by creditors and third party debt collection firms. But the matter was couched as a modern-day equivalent to debtors’ prisons.
Read the article here or listen to the four minute spot below:
NPR: Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars
Regulators and ARM industry decision makers have long known that the issue of process serving in collection suits needs to be addressed. The FTC held extensive hearings on the matter two years ago, and some states have moved to put their own rules in place to prevent such warrants from being issued.
But until a definitive set of regulations is handed down by policymakers on the Federal level, judges will remain the ultimate arbiters in these matters. NPR points out that many judges lean toward the creditor bar in these cases, attempting to force consumers into payment plans.
This issue is not one of debtors’ prisons, but rather one of effective legal communication. The process serving process in some jurisdictions is broken, and Federal and state regulators are actively pursuing ways to make that process fair for all parties.