by Deepak Gupta
In today's Los Angeles Times, consumer columnist David Lazarus takes a look at the practice of for-profit debt collectors renting out the seal and letterhead of local California prosecutors -- the target of a new class-action lawsuit that our firm filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco. The practice was condemned in a scathing ethics opinion released by the American Bar Association a few weeks ago -- an opinion we blogged about here.
Here's Lazarus's take:
These programs are hinky from the get-go. Prosecutors are allowing private debt collectors to misrepresent themselves as official entities, and consumers are unfairly being threatened with bogus charges.
If these programs focused solely on making the legal system more efficient, fine. But they seem to exist primarily to do the dirty work for merchants who believe they're owed some cash.
These companies should do their own debt collecting. Prosecutors should concentrate on enforcing the law.
And if prosecutors can't tell the difference, they should, as the American Bar Assn. suggested, sign up for some remedial ethics training.
I admit, I had to look up the word "hinky" in the dictionary. But it seems quite apt.