The Minnesota Attorney General says that debt collectors need to produce better evidence when filing lawsuits against consumers. This comes after it has been seen time and time again that debt collectors are winning court cases with hardly any evidence to back up the claims they are making. Now, Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, is asking lawmakers to create a bill that mandates a higher standard of proof from these debt collectors.
Swanson has stated that many of the debt buyers will buy up tons of debt from other companies for a fraction of the price. They do not do an adequate job of contacting the alleged debtor, so the debtor does not always make it to court to defend themselves. In the cases when the defendants do show up, they have not contacted an attorney because they don’t realize they can and that means they are ill-prepared when compared to the lawyers representing the debt collectors.
Because of the lack of preparedness by the defendant, the courts are frequently granting default judgments in the favor of the debt collector, despite how weak the evidence may be. Swanson believes that the debt buyer should be required to present admissible evidence because, in an American court, a person should have to prove their case to win in court.
According to the legislation that Swanson supports, debt buyers would need to prove that the amount owed on the debt is correct and that the defendant is the person who owes the debt. The debt buyer would also have to provide proof that they are owed the debt.
Such legislation could lead to a reduction in the number of debt-collection lawsuits in addition to giving defendants a better fighting chance against a debt they may not owe. An example of a company that has filed a lot of debt-collection lawsuits without always having evidence to back up the claims is Midland Funding. Since 2008, the company has filed upward of 15,000 lawsuits. Swanson settled a lawsuit against Midland in 2012, which alleged that the company had sought legal action against individuals without having strong evidence to back up the claims.
In the testimony that was given during the Midland lawsuits, employees admitted that they had signed up to 400 affidavits each day, often without understanding them.