|The joy of hearing from|
(First of multiple parts)
Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, Americans have been living in what might be called "The Age of Sleazy Bankers." No one exemplifies the financial scam quite like JPMorgan Chase and its CEO Jamie Dimon, the folks who brought us the infamous bad trade that resulted in a loss of at least $5.8 billion.
Not content to engage in reckless and scandalous trades, JPMorgan Chase has dived head first into the seediest end of the financial sector. We're talking about debt collection, the place where true bottom feeders reside.
And we are about to provide you with tape recordings that provide indisputable evidence that Chase and its acolytes are con artists, practicing a particularly virulent form of fraud. As we reported over the weekend, a Chase-owned company was so over-the-top in its pursuit of an alleged debt from a Whataburger employee that the Texas-based chain is suing to stop the unlawful harassment.
If you buy anything on credit--and who in postmodern America doesn't--you are likely to hear someday from a debt collector. When it happens, you probably will experience violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), the notoriously weak federal law that miserably fails to police the rogue-infested waters of the debt-collection world.
You might think that Chase, the largest bank in the United States and the largest private corporation in the world (with $2 trillion in assets), would find debt collection to be beneath it. But you would be wrong.
One Equity Partners, the investment arm of Chase, purchased one of the nation's largest debt-collection companies in November 2006. That would be Pennsylvania-based NCO, and Mrs. Schnauzer and I know from first-hand experience that it is one unscrupulous company. (NCO is the target of the Whataburger lawsuit.)
In fact, we have the audiotapes to prove how low NCO will go. And we soon will be sharing them with you in a series of posts that promises to pull the mask off what little dignity debt collectors have left.
We started hearing from NCO in spring 2007 over a debt I allegedly owed on an American Express card. By June of that year, NCO had shipped the alleged account to the Birmingham law firm of Ingram & Associates, and we started hearing from them.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, both NCO and Ingram were working under the banner of JPMorgan Chase. Just a few months before we started hearing from them, NCO had been purchased by Chase--and as a member of the NCO Attorney Network, Ingram also was vicariously representing Chase.
Do JPMorgan Chase and its surrogates respect the federal law that governs debt collection? Do they respect the rights of consumers and treat them in an honest and courteous fashion?
The answer to those questions is a resounding no. You can ask the folks about Whataburger about that.
You also can ask my wife and me. Like many consumers, Mrs. Schnauzer and I were ignorant at first about the wily ways of debt-collection "professionals." In fact, we had never heard from a debt collector before.
We were sharp enough, however, to tape record several conversations we had with collectors. And we hope the tapes will prove highly educational for Legal Schnauzer readers.
The tapes show just how far collectors will go to collect a debt you might not even owe--and you can be virtually certain the collector cannot prove you owe the debt. And that's because the industry is notorious for sloppy record keeping.
With no records to prove a specific debt is owed, collectors often cannot possibly win in court if the alleged debtor shows up to fight it. That's why collectors lie, threaten, cheat, and harass consumers over the phone. If they can scare you into agreeing to pay something that way, they won't have to go to court and pray you don't show up.
Collectors thrive on their ability to strike fear into the hearts of consumers. And our tape recordings will show you exactly how they do it.
What do the tapes sound like? Well, you might find part of them to be sad, part of them to be funny. They definitely will make you angry.
This much is certain: If you buy anything on credit, you won't want to miss it.
The series begins shortly here on Legal Schnauzer.