#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES – November 03 – More and more people around the country are getting sent to debtors’ prisons, but exactly how does it happen?
According to National Public Radio, companies that people owe money usually sell off the debt to a collection agency, which in turn “files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.”
In some cases, judges “don’t even know debtors’ rights, which could result in the debtor being intimidated into a pay agreement,” making an already bad situation worse. News coverage about the rise of debtors’ prisons has been picking up steam, especially in regards to judges imprisoning people for their debts.
In 2000, The New York Times reported that a small town judge in Arizona was accused in a lawsuit of having “turned the local jail into a debtors’ prison, repeatedly jailing poor laborers who were unable to settle debts with local property owners.”
In 2009, CBS reportedthat a judge in southern Indiana threatened one Herman Button, who owed $1,800 to a former landlord but had no income beyond Social Security, with contempt and imprisonment if he did not pay.
The decision to imprison debtors can also come from judges needing money. In this case, judges were pressured to collect on fines and fees lest they find themselves receiving fewer operating funds for their courts.
And in 2010, The Times reported that an Alabama circuit judge said openly that his state legislature “was pressuring courts to produce revenue, and that some legislators even believed courts should be financially self-sufficient.“ In order to have a better chance of extracting the needed money, judges may have threatened people with imprisonment.
However, some of these fees can be problematic. The Brennan Center for Justice completed a study in 2010 which found that 13 states charged the poor “public defenders fees… a practice that encourages indigent defendants to waive their right to counsel.” Some of these fees being imposed on the poor can, in fact, force them to give up their rights in order to lessen their payment.
The reinstatement of debtors’ prisons has a serious impact on the poor and unemployed who can even be sent to prison for nonpayment of regular bills, due to the fact that “a creditor can petition a court to issue a summons for nonpayment of a bill. If you fail to appear, for one reason or another – and life gets pretty disorganized when you lose your job and possibly your home – then you’re in contempt of court. Next stop, jail.”
It’s rather ridiculous that this is legal if you considers the fact that half of Americans are poor or near poor, and 48 million Americans live in poverty. More than a third of U.S. states allow debtors to be jailed.
In conjunction with debtors’ prisons, there’s also been a rise in collection firms using the courts to force people to pay up on their debts. This has quickly become a problem in some cases where “the debt collection agencies have used threats and lies to get consumers to pay back their debts,” and the collectors have “allegedly pressured consumers who didn’t owe anything at all.”
In sum, people who are already having a difficult time paying bills are now being subject to harassment and intimidation from collectors.
And the situation gets even worse when a private probation service, or PPS, come on the scene. PPSs work like this:
If you get hit with a $200 ticket you can’t pay, a private probation company will let you pay it off in instalments, for a monthly fee. But there may be additional fees for electronic monitoring, drug testing and classes – many of which are assigned not by a judge, but by the private company itself.
Such PPS harassment can make life extremely difficult for struggling individuals, like in this infamous case of Thomas Barrett. Unemployed and living off food stamps, Barrett was out on probation and ordered to pay a $200 fine for stealing a $2 can of beer from a convenience store.
On top of that, Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, the company administering Barrett’s probation, charged him $360 per month in supervision and monitoring fees despite the fact that Barrett’s only source of income was money he earned selling his own blood plasma.
Barrett skipped meals to try to make payments to Sentinel. But he still fell behind and eventually owed the company over $1,000 in fees – five times more than the $200 fine imposed by the court. Seeking to get his money, Sentinel successfully petitioned a court to revoke Barrett’s probation, and finally the court jailed him.
Here it must be noted that the 14th Amendment clearly provides that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
By imprisoning people like Barrett, who are unable to pay their court fees, the state is violating their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. Yet due to the fiscal constraints that many states are in, many are looking the other way while the constitutional violations continue.
And the problems don’t end for people once they’ve paid off their debts and gotten out of prison. The Brennan study found that in all 15 states that were examined – California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, and Missouri – “criminal justice debt and related collection practices create a significant barrier for individuals seeking to rebuild their lives after a criminal conviction.” For example, in eight of the states, missing debt payments resulted in one’s driver’s license being suspended – which makes it all the more difficult to get to work, earn money and pay off debts.
Seven states even required people to pay off their criminal justice debts In order to regain the right- to-vote.
This trend should worry us all, as it is not only eroding basic individual rights as established in the U.S. Constitution – but harming the very poorest among us in the process. With the reinstatement of debtors’ prisons, we are seeing the most vulnerable people bearing the biggest burden of an unjust legal and economic system.
If we knowingly allow this process to proceed, we too are guilty of harming the poor. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Let’s not remain silent on debtors’ prisons any longer.
Occupy.com and BY DEVON DOUGLAS-BOWERS
#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES – The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio has nearly grown to the Group of Seven (G7) average, a dramatic increase from 2000 when it was lower than most other G7 countries, according to this new progress report and scorecard from the Council on Foreign Relations Renewing America initiative.
At its current rate, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio will be higher than all G7 countries except Japan by 2040.
While other large wealthy countries have been cutting their entitlement programs, the United States has left Medicare and Social Security mostly untouched. Recent U.S. budget cuts have instead focused on discretionary spending, which goes toward areas such as education, infrastructure, and research and development—all of which constitute investments in future economi“
By 2040, public debt is projected to top 110 percent, equal to the highest levels reached during the Second World War,” Renewing America Associate Director Rebecca Strauss writes. “And absent any policy changes it will likely keep climbing after-ward into uncharted territory for the United States.”
Americans will have to make difficult choices to get the public debt load under control. Sequestration, which took effect in 2013, only affected government spending projected to decline as a share of GDP.
Meanwhile, U.S. policy-makers left cutting entitlements or increasing tax revenues largely off the table, despite the fact that entitlements will account for nearly all new federal spending in the future.
#AceDebtNews says as more and more people are put into #debt by #greedy lenders, out to make a profit out of misery.
This story has been agreed and it is copy righted thanks Editor.
A version of this story will be published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday.
“I really needed the cash, and that was the only thing that I could think of doing at the time,” she said. The decision has hung over her life ever since.
A single mother who works unpredictable hours at a chiropractor’s office, she made payments for a couple of months, then she defaulted.
So AmeriCash sued her, a step that high-cost lenders 2013 makers of payday, auto-title and installment loans 2013 take against their customers tens of thousands of times each year. In just Missouri and Oklahoma, which have court databases that allow statewide searches, such lenders file more than 29,000 suits annually, according to a ProPublica analysis.
ProPublica’s examination shows that the court system is often tipped in lenders’ favor, making lawsuits profitable for them while often dramatically increasing the cost of loans for borrowers.
High-cost loans already come with annual interest rates ranging from about 30 percent to 400 percent or more. In some states, if a suit results in a judgment 2013 the typical outcome 2013 the debt can then continue to accrue at a high interest rate. In Missouri, there are no limits on such rates.
Many states also allow lenders to charge borrowers for the cost of suing them, adding legal fees on top of the principal and interest they owe. One major lender routinely charges legal fees equal to one-third of the debt, even though it uses an in-house lawyer and such cases usually consist of filing routine paperwork. Borrowers, meanwhile, are rarely represented by an attorney.
After a judgment, lenders can garnish borrowers’ wages or bank accounts in most states. Only four states prohibit wage garnishment for most debts, according to the National Consumer Law Center; in 20, lenders can seize up to one-quarter of borrowers’ paychecks. Since the average borrower who takes out a high-cost loan is already stretched to the limit, with annual income typically below $30,000, losing such a large portion of their pay “starts the whole downward spiral,” said Laura Frossard of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.
The peril is not just financial. In Missouri and other states, debtors who don’t appear in court also risk arrest.
As ProPublica has previously reported, the growth of high-cost lending has sparked battles across the country. In response to efforts to limit interest rates or otherwise prevent a cycle of debt, lenders have fought back with campaigns of their own and by transforming their products.
Lenders argue their high rates are necessary if they are to be profitable and that the demand for their products is proof they provide a valuable service. When they file suit against their customers, they do so only as a last resort and always in compliance with state law, lenders contacted for this article said.
After AmeriCash sued Burks in September 2008, she found her debt had grown to more than $4,000. She agreed to pay it back, bit by bit. If she didn’t, AmeriCash won the right to seize a portion of her pay.
Ultimately, AmeriCash took more than $5,300 from Burks’ paychecks. Typically $25 per week, the payments made it harder to cover basic living expenses, Burks said. “Add it up: As a single parent, that takes away a lot.”
But those years of payments brought Burks no closer to resolving her debt. Missouri law allowed it to continue growing at the original interest rate of 240 percent 2013 a tide that overwhelmed her small payments. So even as she paid, she plunged deeper and deeper into debt.
By this year, that $1,000 loan Burk’s took out in 2008 had grown to a $40,000 debt, almost all of which was interest. After ProPublica submitted questions to AmeriCash about Burks’ case, however, the company quietly and without explanation filed a court declaration that Burks had completely repaid her debt.
Had it not done so, Burks would have faced a stark choice: declare bankruptcy or make payments for the rest of her life.
A Judge’s Dismay
Appointed to Missouri’s associate circuit court in St. Louis last year by Gov. Jay Nixon, Judge Christopher McGraugh came to the bench with 25 years’ experience as an attorney in civil and criminal law. But, he said, “I was shocked” at the world of debt collection.
As in Burks’ case, high-cost lenders in Missouri routinely ask courts to hand down judgments that allow loans to continue growing at the original interest rate. Initially, he refused, McGraugh said, because he feared that would doom debtors to years, if not a lifetime, of debt.
“It’s really an indentured servitude,” he said. “I just don’t see how these people can get out from underneath [these debts].”
But he got an earful from the creditors’ attorneys, he said, who argued that Missouri law was clear: The lender has an unambiguous right to obtain a post-judgment interest rate equal to that in the original contract. McGraugh studied the law and agreed: His hands were tied.
Now, in situations where he sees a debt continuing to build despite years of payments by the debtor, the best he can do is urge the creditor to work with the debtor. “It’s extremely frustrating,” he said.
Since the beginning of 2009, high-cost lenders have filed more than 47,000 suits in Missouri, according to a ProPublica analysis of state court records. In 2012, the suits amounted to 7 percent of all collections suits in the state. Missouri law allows lenders to charge unlimited interest rates, both when originating loans and after winning judgments.
Borrowers such as Burks often do not know how much they have paid on their debt or how much they owe. When creditors seek to garnish wages, the court orders are sent to debtors’ employers, which are responsible for deducting the required amount, but not to the debtors themselves.
AmeriCash, for instance, was not required to send Burks any sort of statement after the garnishment began. She learned from a reporter how much she had paid 2013 and how much she still owed.
After AmeriCash’s deduction and another garnishment related to a student loan, Burks said she took home around $460 each week from her job.
No court oversees the interest that creditors such as AmeriCash charge on post-judgment debts. For instance, the judgment that Burks and an attorney for AmeriCash signed says that her debt will accrue at 9 percent interest annually. Instead, AmeriCash appears to have applied her contractual rate of 240 percent a year.
That seems unjustified, McGraugh said. “I would believe you’re bound by the agreement you made in court.”
In the past five years, AmeriCash has filed more than 500 suits in Missouri. The suits often result in cases like Burks’, with exploding debts. One borrower took out a $400 loan in late 2005 and by 2012 had paid $3,573 2013 but that didn’t stop the interest due on the loan from ballooning to more than $16,000. (As in Burks’ case, AmeriCash relieved that debtor of his obligation after ProPublica submitted a list of questions to the company.)
AmeriCash, a private company based in a Chicago suburb, has five stores in Missouri, as well as 60 more across four other states. The company did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails about its practices. The firm’s attorney, Wally Pankowski of the Evans & Dixon law firm, declined to comment.
Cases in which lawsuits led to exploding debts abound in Missouri, and ProPublica found examples involving several different lenders.
Erica Hollins of St. Louis took out a $100 loan from Loan Express just before Christmas 2006. She soon fell behind on the payments, but instead of suing immediately, the company waited, the debt growing at 200 percent interest all the while. When the company sued two and a half years later, it received a judgment to collect on $913, including interest.
For years, the company garnished Hollins’ paychecks from her job at a nursing home. When, after a total of nearly $3,600 in payments, Hollins still had not cleared her debt, she called Loan Express’ attorney, she said. As in Burks’ case, the lender was represented by Pankowski. “I asked him would I ever be done paying for this?” she recalled. “And he said, 2018Maybe, maybe not.’ ” (Pankowski declined to comment on the case.)
Hollins sought legal help. Now she’s filed suit against the company, alleging it intentionally delayed suing so that her debt would multiply. The suit is ongoing.
Todd Stimson, who owns Loan Express, as well as three other stores in Illinois, said his company waited to sue Hollins because he believed her wages were already being garnished by another creditor. He also said his company gave her ample opportunity to avoid a suit in the first place but that Hollins didn’t pay. Companies like his have to sue in such situations, he said. Otherwise, “word gets out in the neighborhood, 2018Oh, you won’t get sued anyway, just don’t pay them.'”
As for Hollins paying back more than 35 times what she borrowed, Stimson said his company might have stopped the garnishment if Hollins had asked, although he added that “legally, I don’t have to.”
Not all lenders pursue as much as they are legally entitled to. Some lenders charge triple-digit rates in their contracts, but they lower the rate after receiving a judgment.
Speedy Cash, for instance, has filed at least 9,382 lawsuits in Missouri over the past five years, more than any other high-cost lender, according to ProPublica’s analysis. It has six stores in the state, in addition to making loans online.
Speedy Cash’s loans can be very expensive. A 2011 contract for a $400 loan, for instance, shows a 389 percent annual interest rate and total payments of $2,320 over a year and a half.
Case Files: Missouri
Missouri allows high-cost lenders who win judgments against delinquent borrowers to charge unlimited interest rates on the debts, inflating the amount owed. Here are three examples:
- #NSA and #CIA Spied on “World of Warcraft Games” and On-line Games (acenewsservices.com)
- Student Loan Borrowers Dazed and Confused by Servicer Shuffle | ProPublica.org (gloucestercitynews.net)
- “The Payday Playbook: How High Cost Lenders Fight to Stay Legal” (pubcit.typepad.com)
- When Lenders Sue, Quick Cash Can Turn Into a Lifetime of Debt (propublica.org)
Billionaires dumping stocks at an alarming rate, as they see the future as not so hopeful. With the US economy reliant on consumer spending ,such a move could be seen as a dark cloud on the horizon!
My first thought of today was to provide a way for people who are in debt, to feel they are not on their own! As so often happens we all that have experienced debt, at one time or another,think that there is no way out!
My personal experiences of debt took me from feelings of desperation, to feelings of how do l cope with no money! The only answer l could provide was when it felt like all hope was lost, it was only then that light entered into the bleakest moment!
As you will see l entitled this post ” It is always darkest before the dawn of a way forward” for the sole reason that nobody can know how it feels being in that dark place, until you have experienced that feeling of loneliness!
So today l am speaking to all those that feel lost, due to the fact that they have some form of debt, be it a bill they cannot pay, or a loan company hounding them at the door! I had it all happen to me, and eventually found that when and l say only when you are no longer scared, of the companies,lenders or providers of these debts,can you see the way forward and the light guides the way!
So if you feel just like this at any time, just send me a comment or forward an email to our organisation and l will personally provide a solution. There is no debt problem that cannot be solved, everyone can negotiate a way forward and above all else, there is someone here to listen and help and guide you to find the light.
As usual thanks for taking the time to read to this post,and remember you are not alone now, l am here!
Posted courtesy of Ace Finance News and Provider – Ian Draper
Many times l would end up going to court for my clients in the past and finding out, sometimes too late they had paid other less important debts. My usual way to handle this was to approach finance companies and make an arrangement with their creditors! This would enable them to reduce their overall costs and reduce payments, enabling the courts to agree to give them more time to pay!
Over the past few years and having got people out of debt for over 30 years, l have now using my life-time consumer credit licence have put in place a way to roll-up all their debts and reduce their costs under my ” Debt Reduction Analysis Plan ” and providing clients tell me the truth l can offer this service and get all their lenders to come to some amicable arrangement. But l caution anyone using this arrangement to make sure that once they have agreed the amount to pay, do not miss any payments! If they do then all will revert back to previous amount of credit repayments!
Also l do not get people out of debt by borrowing more money like many organisations, as this just adds more debt and leaves clients in a worst place. Anyone need professional help and guidance please visit my website and leave your details, l will try to help!
For people reading my first post on what my profession is l am licensed under Consumer Credit Licensing Bureau provided by the Office Of Fair Trading under: License Number: 628783 to carry-out the following business:
- Consumer Credit
- Consumer Hire
- Credit Brokerage
PS: All information on comments gets vetted before approval so that nobody has any personal information shared this protects you under ” Data Protection ” for your privacy.