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Executive Alleges Bank Fired Her for Complaining About Unethical Sale of Debt

March 22, 2010

As San Bernardino County unfair debt collection attorneys, we were very interested in the allegations made in a JP Morgan Chase executive's recent lawsuit. The San Antonio Express-News reported March 3 that Linda Almonte is suing Chase, claiming she was unfairly fired for objecting to the sale of debt that was not correctly documented. She claims Chase knowingly made false representations about 23,000 delinquent credit card accounts it was trying to sell to collection agencies, which would then turn around and try to collect the debts. Intentionally deceiving a buyer is a violation of federal law. When Almonte took her concerns to her supervisors, she said she was told to go through with the sale, then fired when she refused to do so.

Almonte worked in collections litigation support, auditing accounts to insure that their information was accurate. Of the 23,000 accounts at issue, she said 5,000 had incorrect information about balance owed, frequently reporting higher balances than actually existed. She was also missing paperwork to verify Chase's claim that it had legal judgments on 11,000 accounts -- which makes an account more attractive to debt collectors. In some cases, the judgment was against Chase rather than the debtor. A debt-collection trade group spokesman said this would be foolish behavior by Chase, because debt buyers are legally guaranteed a refund if the seller misrepresented the debt. Almonte claims colleagues wanted to sell the debt as quickly as possible to disguise heavy losses in Chase's credit card business in 2009, and that they said they'd "worry about it next year."

This kind of wrongdoing is important to our Santa Ana abusive debt collection lawyers because it hurts individuals as well as collection agencies. Most debt collectors assume that they have been sold correct information, because deliberate lying could put the seller out of business. That means that when debtors contest the debts, the debt collector is likely to assume they are lying. Instead of looking into it, they keep trying to collect, using increasingly aggressive, and sometimes illegal, methods. The problem is compounded when debtors don't formally request verification of the debt, or when debt collectors won't meet their legal obligation to verify it. This can result in long-term harassment or abuse of people who genuinely don't owe the debt. If Almonte is correct, Chase was attempting to put thousands of people in this position -- all so it could temporarily disguise losses on its balance sheet.

Howard Law PC represents people who were subjected to repeated harassment, verbal abuse and other unfair behavior by debt collectors. That includes calling anyone other than the debtor and his or her spouse; calling late at night or early in the morning; threatening arrest, violence or other things they cannot legally do; and obscene language. These behaviors and others are all illegal under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as a similar California law. Unfortunately, too few people realize they have these rights, which allows debt collectors to violate the law with impunity. Our Whittier debt collection harassment attorneys help clients sue collection agencies for violating the law, which can get clients up to $1,000 in damages, plus attorney fees and any other costs the illegal behavior caused.

If you've been harassed or abused by a debt collector who refuses to meet its legal obligations, you should call Howard Law for help. To learn more about your rights at a free case evaluation, call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or contact us through the Internet.