Collector - May 2018 - 49
community service or work programs, or
anything of the like over your unpaid debts.
What's more, according to the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, it's actually illegal
for a debt collector to threaten you with any
jail time. As a result, you can file a complaint
and even sue a collector for violating the
FDCPA if they make threats of this kind ..."
DON'T IGNORE COURT ORDERS
It's critical to note that there is one very
specific way that a consumer debt can land
consumers in jail-and it's not because of the
debt itself. In some states if you fail to appear
or follow the instructions of a civil court
order related to your debt, then you can be
found in contempt of court. As a result, a
warrant can be issued for your arrest because
you ignored the court's orders.
You still don't go to jail because of the
debt-you go as a result of your actions
related to the collector's attempt to sue you
in civil court.
The ACLU's claim that debt collectors
manipulate the judiciary system for their
benefit is simply wrong and runs counter
to judicial independence. Moreover, if
lawmakers were to adopt the ACLU's
request to limit judicial power by allowing
court orders related to debt collection to
be ignored without consequence, it would
undermine a fair judicial process and
endanger the judiciary's ability to function.
The key to effective recovery of
outstanding debt is respectful, two-way
communication. Unfortunately, the
ACLU's report spreads a false narrative that
increases mistrust in the professional debt
collection industry. This in turn impedes
communication between consumers and
debt collectors, a consequence that can result
in serious, long-term financial harm to a
As the leading voice for the credit and
collection industry, ACA is disappointed
in the misleading report released by the
ACLU which inaccurately portrays debt
collectors and the judicial system. However,
ACA remains committed to working
with policymakers, regulators, courts and
attorneys general to identify practical
solutions for improving communication
between consumers and debt collectors so
that judicial intervention in the recovery of
debt is ultimately not needed.
Maria Wolvin is ACA International's
former vice president and senior counsel
of regulatory affairs.
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