CEO of debt collector pledges changes to industry

Bryan Cohen Jan. 4, 2012, 3:30pm


TULSA, Okla. (Legal Newsline) - Bill Bartmann, the chief executive officer of the Tulsa-based debt-collection agency CFS II, and other debt collectors have started a national reform initiative and have created a debt collector pledge.

In a press release, Bartmann said that standard debt collection is an abuse of the judicial process and it must stop. He added that the attorneys general of a number of states have cracked down on the scandalous behavior of debt collectors, including Darrell McGraw of West Virginia, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Lisa Madigan of Illinois, Greg Abbott of Texas, Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Lori Swanson of Minnesota.

"In the U.S. justice system, you're innocent until proven guilty," Bartmann said. "The same should be true in collections. Nine out of 10 times, customers want to pay you. If they do not, you need to start with the assumption that they have valid reasons."

In total, 216 debt collection companies have signed the pledge. The major elements of the document include never reselling credit card accounts to anyone who has not signed the pledge, never attempting to contact the consumer regarding credit card debt by telephone more than twice in a 24-hour period, never charging interest on a credit card that was charged off by the original issuer, never filing a lawsuit for collection of credit card debt and never attempting any collection effort on credit card debt that is beyond the statute of limitation.

"Debt collectors have developed some very nasty habits over the past five years or so," Bartmann said. "They sue millions of people every year based on nothing more than a name on a list. They mislead courts about facts they cannot prove. It is a practice of 'sue 'em all and let God sort them out.'"

Bartmann cited North Carolina as one of the states that has changed its laws to make debt collectors change their behavior. He said that he knows that his arguments and claims are unpopular in the debt collection industry and generate criticism from his competitors.

"My goal is not popularity," Bartmann said. "My goal is to make debt collectors treat consumers in a civilized manner."

Bartmann's debt collection company, CFS II, is located in Tulsa in the CityPlex Towers.

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