In 2017, the three largest Credit Reporting Agencies – Experian, Equifax and Transunion implemented some changes to what “public records” they report, according to a Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) press release. “Public Records” means information obtained from courts and other public entities. This includes bankruptcies, tax liens and judgments.
Consumers who sue large corporations are always at a disadvantage. Among the many advantages the corporate defendant has is information.
Imagine in typical case. A large mortgage servicer demands money from a consumer. The consumer doesn’t owe the money. Months pass, and no matter how many times the consumer explains, the calls and the letters keep coming.
A study by British industry groups and academics recently set out best practices for debt collectors dealing with so-call vulnerable consumers. InsideARM, a US debt collectors’ trade publication has taken interest and encourages senior management to read it. Among the studies’ key findings were:
- 1 in 4 frontline debt collectors spoke to at least one consumer they “seriously believed” might commit suicide.
- Debt collectors need training concerning addiction and terminal illness – areas they (understandably) find difficult to discuss with consumers.
- Debt collecting businesses need to provide their staff with more support in identifying vulnerable consumers
- Ad hoc approaches to vulnerable consumers – such as temporarily ceasing collection to give the customer “breathing space” are not enough.
Judgments have serious consequences. In Maryland they last for 12 years, and are renewable. With a judgment, a creditor can garnish your wages, freeze your bank accounts, get a lien over your home or even seize your car. Sometimes people are surprised to find that there is a judgment against them. So, what can you do?