The larger and more aggressive debt collection agencies will have Uncle Sam looking over their shoulder in January. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intends to rein in the abusive collectors and give harassed consumers somewhere else to go other than the overwhelmed Federal Trade Commission which previously had responsibility for keeping collectors at heel. Collection firms that follow the law will still be able to do their job; the C.F.P.B. is not a safe harbor for anyone with legitimate delinquent debts. Complaints about aggressive and illegal dunning practices have been the number-one consumer gripe to the FTC for years.
It is both sad and infuriating that con artists are targeting the people who can least afford to be scammed; those deeply in debt desperately looking for a way out. The scammers frequently call themselves "debt settlement" experts with special expertise in getting creditors to forgive all, or at least part, of consumer debts and make the customer "debt-free." The problem is, and the debt settlement industry admits this, about two-thirds of clients get no relief at all. Federal and state regulators say he success rate is more like 10 percent.
Bankruptcy filings down 4.7% in state
Weak economy hitting small-business owners
Bankruptcy filings in Wisconsin continued to fall for the second consecutive year, but attorneys say the hangover from the economic downturn still is forcing some small-business owners to throw in the towel.