The way lenders and collectors pursue consumer debt has undergone an aggressive transformation in America. Collectors today don’t give up easy, often pursuing debts for years. For many people, these changes have profoundly affected their lives.
USA Discounters, promising to change how it pursues military debtors, will now be known as USA Living.
Critics say the 1968 federal law that allows collectors to take 25 percent of debtors' wages, or every penny in their bank accounts, is out of date and overly harsh.
A new study provides the first-ever tally of how many employees lose up to a quarter of their paychecks over debts like unpaid credit card or medical bills and student loans.
Some describe their surprise when they were sued after falling behind on medical and credit card bills.
The Defense Department and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are urged to see whether service members are able to defend themselves against lawsuits while on active duty.
The company says ProPublica “inaccurately” portrayed its policies regarding military customers, but cites no errors.
Courts are required to appoint attorneys for service members if they are sued and can’t appear. But the law says little about what those lawyers must do. Some companies have taken advantage.
With stores near military bases across the country, the retailer USA Discounters offers easy credit to service members. But when those loans go bad, the company uses the local courts near its Virginia headquarters to file suits by the thousands.