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Monday, May 13, 2013

CA Attorney General Sues Chase Over Debt Collection Practices

Last week the California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Chase bank over its alleged consumer debt collection practices, robo-signing as well as allegations of systemic Sewer Service performed by the bank process servers. 

The Complaint alleges debt collection abuses against tens of thousands of California residents. 
"Defendants have flooded California’s courts with collection lawsuits against defaulted credit card borrowers based on patently insufficient evidence—betting that borrowers would lack the resources or legal sophistication to call Defendants’ bluff."

The Complaint also alleges that the Defendants do not properly serve consumers with the summons and complaint, despite filing proofs of service that declare under penalty of perjury that service was complete.

For example, Defendants, through their agents for service of process, falsely state in proofs of service that the consumer was personally served, when, in fact, he or she was not served at all—a practice known as “sewer service.”

This Complaint is similar to the Sewer Service allegations and
Attorney General action in New York a few years ago that resulted in the arrest of the owner of a process serving agency and a severe crack-down and regulations placed on the process server community in that state.  It is estimated that many hundreds of process servers and process serving agencies in NYC ultimately went out of business because of the strict regulations that followed that scandal.

At this point it is impossible to say what the fallout will be in California and if the effects will be felt elsewhere in the collection and process serving industry.

What can or should the process serving industry leaders do to address these challenges?  I for one am not sure what the if anything CALSPro should do.  Let's face it there are already laws on the books making the some of the alleged actions of the process server illegal.  I could see stricter penalties being imposed for those who truly commit sewer service.

Whatever is decided by industry leaders they will need to make sure that they are credible, professional and committed to addressing the challenges facing the industry.  No amount of money and lobbying will help produce a solution that is reasonable if your industry leaders are not up to the task.  One would hope that the CA process servers would learn from counterparts in NY what works and what doesn't work...
by Jeff Karotkin