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Hightower: Rapacious Companies Go After Defenseless People in Debt

Good news, people: The “boom” is back! Yes, good times are here again, thanks to an economic boom that’s being generated by (of all things) bad times.

As you might know from your own experiences, tens of millions of Americans have been hit hard, knocked down and held down in recent years by the collapse of jobs and wages. This calamity has led to a second blow for millions of the same families, who find themselves suddenly buried in piles of overdue bills for credit card charges, student loans and other consumer debt.

But the good news is that there’s a bright silver lining in that dark financial cloud. Only, it’s not for the indebted families, but for a booming breed of finance hucksters known as consumer debt buyers. Believe it or not, in the warped world of high finance,

“There’s gold in them thar hills” of bad debt, and where there’s gold, there are diggers.

Whenever a corporation issues a statement declaring that it’s committed to “treating consumers fairly and with respect,” chances are, it’s not.

After all, why say such a thing, when actually practicing it would make a statement unnecessary? Indeed, with names like Encore Capital Group and Sherman Financial, these miners of human misery buy bales of these unpaid bills from banks and other lenders, paying pennies on the dollar. Then they unleash packs of their hard-nosed, aggressive collectors on the families. If they still can’t extract payment, the corporate debt profiteers turn to their meanest dog: The courts.

Debt firms routinely file thousands of lawsuits a day against financially devastated Americans. They know that most debtors can’t understand the legal gibberish filed against them, can’t afford a lawyer, can’t take time off to go to a court hearing and can’t mount an effective defense against the corporate lawyers. So, some 95 percent of these lawsuits produce default judgments against hapless borrowers — meaning debt buyers can then confiscate the wages of borrowers or freeze their bank accounts.

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