I continue to heart Sen. Al Franken for standing up for people who are being abused by the powerful. Kudos also to the Minneapolis Star Tribune for publishing this series:
Alarmed by abuses in the debt collections industry, Sen. Al Franken said Sunday that he will introduce legislation to ban the use of arrest warrants by private firms and other practices he says are unfair to consumers.
“I was shocked when I read the Star Tribune series about this,” said Franken, D-Minn. “… Sometimes you pick up the paper and you say, ‘Holy moley, we have to do something about this.'”
Hounded, a Star Tribune investigative series published over the summer, exposed debt collectors’ aggressive tactics, including the increasing use of arrest warrants and the seizures of paychecks and bank accounts.
Franken would make it an unfair practice under federal law for private firms to use arrest warrants in debt collections, according to a summary of his proposed bill. Consumers would have the right to sue collectors over the practice. Franken said the bill won’t limit judges’ authority to issue arrest warrants against debtors who can pay, but don’t show up in court when a creditor sues.
“That should come from the court, not the debt collector,” said Franken, who asserted that the collections industry relies too much on public resources, such as sheriffs’ offices, to collect private debts.
His legislation also would require collectors to furnish consumers with more information about what they owe, including a breakdown of fees and interest, and notify people of what rights they have.