The Wall Street Journal recently reported that one the nation’s largest debt collectors has used the signature of a dead person to collect on debts (click here to read the article in the WSJ).
Martha Kunkle died in 1995. Her death did not stop Portfolio Recovery Inc. from using her signature to sue people. The Journal reports that in July 2009, Portofolio Recovery Inc. used her signature to obtain a judgment against a Seattle woman in the amount of $2,892.10. “It was a cookie-cutter case except for one thing: To vouch for the debt’s validity, the Northfolk VA company included an affidavit signed by Ms. Kunkle.”
In response to this clear fraud, the Attorney Generals in Minnesota and Missouri are preparing investigations. I have no doubt that other states will jump in on the action.
As a Georgia bankruptcy attorney, I’ve seen many clients exhaust all of their assets before coming to see me in an attempt to satisfy bill collectors. I hate hearing about how a person emptied out their 401k retirement account before filing bankruptcy because that asset could have been protected.
The other sad situation is to see someone borrow against the equity in their home to pay down but not eliminate bills owed to debt collectors. In most Georgia bankruptcy cases, we can protect up to $20,000.oo in equity for married couples and $10,000.00 for single filers.
Many Georgia debtors never even question the amounts they are alleged to owe. Most debt collectors will claim that the amount owed has increased drastically because of high interest charges and late fees. Some debt collectors might even try to use the signature of a dead person to swear under penalty of perjury that the debt is valid.
Liquidating everything you own before filing bankruptcy is not smart. Take advantage of free consultation and know your rights.