I want to be very clear here. The answer is an unequivocal resounding NO!
A couple of months ago, the ACLU came out with a report which asserted, “….Thousands are arrested and jailed each year because they owe money.”
Oh, please! I am pushing the BS button on this one. “There is not one consumer in this country that was put in jail for the failure to pay a debt. Our court system simply does not work that way.” You don’t have to take my word for it. The above statement is a direct quote from the National Creditors Bar Association’s response to the ACLU report.
The ACLU’s assertion that thousands of consumers are arrested and jailed each year because they owe money is displayed prominently in the first paragraph of their 97 page report. Later they actually get to the truth by writing, and I quote, “Laws in states and federal rules of civil and bankruptcy procedure expressly authorize debtors to be arrested and incarcerated for contempt of court.” Wait, what? It’s not because they owe a debt, but because they were in contempt of court? BIG DIFFERENCE!
In the National Creditors Bar Association’s response, they said, “The ACLU’s report was not only factually inaccurate but was conveniently lacking in relevant truisms in an attempt to sensationalize unfortunate circumstances for individuals who fail to comply with court orders.” Yada, yada, yada…”Members of the NCBA as well as attorneys across this country know that in order for a court to send someone to jail in a civil matter, as opposed to a criminal matter, a complete and utter disregard for a court’s order must have occurred. Judges use this power sparingly otherwise the penalty for contempt would become superfluous.
Litigation is the path of last resort for a creditor. The process is expensive and time consuming and results in a judgment only and not necessarily the payment of the debt. However, what the ACLU fails to recognize is that the courthouse can be the safest place for consumers if consumers chose to avail themselves of the ability to participate in the system. In court, a judge can supervise the conduct of an attorney and also ensure that the consumer, especially a self-represented consumer, has the required access to the protections the court can provide.”
Do you know what’s funny, ironic even, about the ACLU’s assertion that if you don’t pay your debt you will go to jail? If I said it I would be breaking the law! That’s right, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that was approved way back in 1977 explicitly prohibits debt collectors from making any threat that the nonpayment of a debt can result in arrest or jail. Why? Because it is not true!
Each quarter our sister company, United Credit Service, Inc., puts out a newsletter. The 2018 1st quarter newsletter (vol. 6 issue 1) that went out in March was entitled: Fake News or News facts. Can you tell the difference? In it we discussed urban myths and false news stories, and how they pertain to us in the collection industry. As stated in the newsletter, some urban myths and false news stories are told to be entertaining, others are cautionary tales and still others are meant to control a narrative. Which category do you think the ACLU’s report falls into?
I think the NCBA said it best, ”The ACLU’s lack of understanding of the legal debt collection process including its failure to acknowledge federal and state laws which govern debt collection activity, court rules of procedure and the regulations imposed both at the state and federal level result in a report that lacked fundamental credibility, but more importantly hampers the ability of legitimate debt collectors to communicate with consumers to fairly and efficiently resolve their financial obligations.”
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 12 years.
image provided by: CC: Pierre Lecourt