Although there are signs that the economy is now strongly rebounding from the recession, some households have not fared as well. A record number of families are facing serious debts and increasingly aggressive debt collectors.
Fortunately, starting this year, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began monitoring debt collectors, trying to crack down on abusive, unfair and deceptive practices. Harassing an individual with repeated phone calls; threatening someone with lawsuits, property seizure, or arrest; making false claims; and sharing personal information with third parties are all common and unlawful debt collection practices.
The CFPB is particularly concerned with 175 debt-collectors that account for 63 percent of the industry’s annual revenue. The CFPB is concentrating on ensuring that information provided by debt collectors to consumers is accurate and forthcoming. This is in direct response to a report last year from Consumers Union, which determined that debt collectors were filing more lawsuits against consumers without much, if any, proper documentation to establish the debt. In extreme cases, these debt collectors sued for already paid debts.
The CFPB estimates that 30 million Americans have an average of $1,500 subject to collection, making them vulnerable to unscrupulous collection practices. With the historic lack of supervision, debt collectors have typically reported consumers’ collection status to credit bureau with inaccuracies that could affect an individual’s ability to get a mortgage, car loan or credit card.
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Unclaimed Items to be Auctioned
Pennsylvania’s treasury department will auction off a portion of the more than 75,000 unclaimed items it is holding.
State Treasurer Rob McCord announced recently that Morphy Auctions of Lancaster County will auction hand-selected items worth more than $300.
The items have sat unclaimed for more than three years and have undergone the required due diligence and advertising.
Items to be sold include bags of silver coins, precious-metal bars, 1,500 watches and timepieces by Rolex and other makers, antique firearms and swords, musical instruments, historical documents (including one signed by Benjamin Franklin), and a large selection of fine jewelry.
Treasury’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property receives an average of 15,000 tangible items per year from police departments, banks and credit unions, hospitals, nursing homes, educational facilities, correctional institutions, and other holders. These items often include jewelry, collectible coins, and medals, among other items—which are stored in the department’s vault.
Treasury undertakes a number of due diligence measures to identify the rightful owner of property in its possession, including letters and advertising. If after three years those numerous attempts to locate the owner prove unsuccessful, Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property law authorizes Treasury to appraise the items and sell them to the highest bidder. Proceeds of the auction are then maintained in perpetuity for the owner or heirs to claim.
The auction is being scheduled for February.