We’ve pointed out in the past that sometimes reading the news can make one question — is anybody on our side anymore? Americans have lost trust in most of our governmental institutions, and it’s no wonder why with stories like this popping up in the New York Times:
“In Prosecutors, Debt Collectors Find a Partner”
“The letters are sent by the thousands to people across the country who have written bad checks, threatening them with jail if they do not pay up. They bear the seal and signature of the local district attorney’s office. But there is a catch: the letters are from debt-collection companies, which the prosecutors allow to use their letterhead. In return, the companies try to collect not only the unpaid check, but also high fees from debtors for a class on budgeting and financial responsibility, some of which goes back to the district attorneys’ offices.
The article describes how District and State Attorney’s Offices around the country are engaging in this shady kickback scheme, from Los Angeles, to Detroit, to Baltimore.
The practice, which has spread to more than 300 district attorneys’ offices in recent years, shocked Angela Yartz when she was threatened with conviction over a $47.95 check to Walmart. A single mother in San Mateo, Calif., Ms. Yartz said she learned the check had bounced only when she opened a letter in February, signed by the Alameda County district attorney, informing her that unless she paid $280.05 — including $180 for a “financial accountability” class — she could be jailed for up to one year.”
Right, because that’s what our government and law enforcement agencies should be worried about in the face of problems like violent crime. Dastardly fake check pushers! (In fact, Detroit and Baltimore were two of the cities with the highest crime rates in the country according to 2010 Census statistics – you’d think their District Attorneys would have bigger problems at hand). So kudos, elected officials, for “prosecuting” the “real criminals.” Instead, maybe the State and District Attorney’s offices engaged in these practices should instead take a look at the questionable practices of debt collection companies they’re doing business with.
Even regular lower and middle class Americans know a scam when they see one. As Kathy Yartz, interviewed for the Times article stated:
“If I meant to bounce this check like a criminal, why do I need a class on budgeting?”
Independent Voters – we encourage you to call or email your local District and State attorney’s office to find out if they’re engaging in these shady practices and hold them accountable. If so, spread the word. Post on social media. Write an editorial in your local paper. And if they’re up for a vote this November – vote them out!