Bloomberg Law Insight: Why the ABA Is Wrong on Amending Debt Collection Bill

by Jeff Sovern

That's the title of my essay my colleague Gina Calabrese and I wrote here in Bloomberg Law.  Excerpt:

The ABA argues that consumers don’t need protection from unscrupulous lawyers because lawyers are already subject to state ethics rules largely written by the ABA itself. Experience tells us otherwise. When a law firm sued consumers for debts they did not owe, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needed the FDCPA to stop it. One of us teaches in a law school consumer clinic and has observed that ethical rules do not stop attorneys from deceiving consumers.

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One of us has seen an attorney tell a court—under penalty of perjury—that a large balance remained on a debt that had been fully paid. The firm later admitted it was wrong, but only after it was held accountable under the FDCPA. Lawyers have frozen our law clinic’s clients’ bank accounts, blocking their access to their own funds, for debts that had already been paid. In none of these cases did the attorneys face ethics sanctions. Indeed, courts routinely excuse such missteps.

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