Consumer group says CFPB helping with Ohio debt collectors

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 28, 2014

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is helping Ohioans get relief from debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person, the Ohio PIRG Education Fund said on Thursday.

According to a report issued by consumer group Ohio PIRG, debt collectors attempting to collect debt from the wrong person represented the number one source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since July. The report, "Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints: The CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Consumers," is the last in a series of five reports by the fund analyzing complaints in the bureau's consumer complaints database.

"The CFPB is helping consumers get relief from shoddy debt collector practices," Bryan Stewart, a program associate with the Ohio PIRG Education Fund, said. "Many consumers who don't owe debts are being harassed by lazy debt collectors who don't verify consumer identities."

The report also found that Ohioans are the 20th most likely to file complaints to the CFPB about debt collection.

"I see consumers sued in judicial districts where they have never lived or conducted business," Blake Brewer, a bankruptcy attorney in Northern Ohio, said. "This happens regularly in the Cleveland Municipal Court, in particular."

Brewer says he has witnessed consumers sued over debts they did not owe, consumers sued contemporaneously by two different debt collectors over the same debt, consumers sued over debts they settled in full with other debt collectors and consumers sued by debt collectors who could not prove their ownership of the debt.

According to the report, the CFPB helped more than 2,700 consumers to receive relief as a result of their debt collection complaints. Most of the assistance came in the form of non-monetary relief, such as stopping harassing phone calls.

"The CFPB has only been taking debt collection complaints for a short time but is already swamped with them," Stewart said. "Consumers need a strong CFPB that reins in reckless debt collectors who ignore the rules."

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a U.S. government agency with the mission of making markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans. Its director is former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray

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