One time, before I started working on consumer law cases, I had a problem with a gym who demanded that I continue making monthly payments even though I’d tried repeatedly to end my gym membership. It was frustrating, and I felt like I was harassed by the random Texas company the gym used to do their collection calls.
In my frustration and anger, I searched for places that could hear my complaint, perhaps mediate an “OK” outcome for both sides, and get this Texas company to stop calling me twice a day, every day.
I either was a bad researcher, or just didn’t take the time to look very hard. My first thought was to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Like the movie, The Revenant, the BBB didn’t do much for me. I did get to air my grievance, I suppose, in a long winded series of entries typed into the BBB’s online form. But the Texas company continued to call.
Don’t be like me. There are certainly times to use the BBB, but there are perhaps more useful outlets than the BBB to lodge complaints over debt collection problems. For instance, let’s talk about the Nebraska Attorney General today.
The Nebraska AG’s office has a consumer protection division, under the “public protection” link. One of the jobs of the AG’s office is to protect the public from fraudulent business activities and also to educate consumers. I don’t know how many attorneys work in the AG’s office, let alone how many staff the consumer protection division. I do know, after reading Bad Paper, that larger states like New York, had only two attorneys assigned to the entire consumer protection division. That’s either a lot of complaints handled by only 2 attorneys, or there’s not that many complaints filed with the AG’s office in New York.
If you have a problem with a debt collector, or get sold a lemon for a car, or have another consumer law problem, there is a form on the Nebraska AG’s website to file a complaint. They ask you questions like “have you hired an attorney for this matter?” and “how much did you pay for this product?” and “please describe what resolution you are seeking for this complaint.” It is thorough and also asks you to submit any documents that support your complaint.
I’d like to know how many of these complaints the AG’s office receives on an annual basis, and what the average resolution to these cases are. Anyone out there gone through it and willing to share stories from the other side?
I haven’t seen any data published by the Nebraska AG’s office on how many complaints they receive annually for illegal debt collection practices, but I did find a news release by the Nebraska AG stating that they were joining a coalition to “address illegal debt collection practices.” You can read the entire news release here. So at least you know that the Nebraska AG has teamed up with a lot of other government agencies, both federal and state, to participate in “Operation Collection Protection.” Whatever that means.