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General News    H3'ed 4/11/11

Debt Collectors Are Going After Kids' Lunch Money

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Message Roger Shuler

Efforts to collect on delinquent lunch money accounts may lead Hazleton Area School District officials to a kinder, gentler way to get free and reduced-price meals to the students who qualify.

School board discussions last month on hiring a collection agency to recoup the unpaid lunch money prompted a proposal from an alternate agency that could bypass the parental application process and get free or low-cost meals to eligible students on administrative approval. . . .

In the meantime, Farley said at this month's board committee meeting, the district received a proposal from another collection agency that would evaluate the top 35 delinquent accounts and determine whether the household qualifies for free or reduced-price meals. If the household qualifies, Farley said the agency would refer the account to district administrators, who can "sign off" on the parental application process and authorize free or low-cost lunch and breakfast for the eligible student.

Looks like the Pennsylvania story could have a happy ending. A few other recent debt-collection stories have had happy endings--at least for consumers:

Appellate Court Upholds Large Jury Verdict in Debt-Collection Case--A federal appeals court has upheld a $311,000 jury verdict in favor of a Montana man who sued a North Dakota-based firm over its debt-collections practices. We reported on the Timothy McCollough case back in August 2009, and we are pleased to report that the jury award has held up.

Debt-Collector Faces Charges Over "Robo-Signed" Affidavits--Lori Swanson, attorney general of Minnesota, already was a champion for a consumers. Now she is accusing a large debt-buying firm of using "false and deceptive robo-signed affidavits" to help collect debts. San Diego-based Encore Capital Group, Inc. is the debt buyer in the cross hairs.

Courthouse Debt Collector Gets Nailed--A company that collects debts for district attorney's offices must pay a $741,000 judgment for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). What charming techniques has District Attorney Technical Services been using? Reports Courthouse News Service:

District Attorney Technical Services contracted with prosecutors that established "bad check restitution and prosecution programs" to collect debts on behalf of merchants that received bad checks.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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