We know that times are tough. A job can be lost through no fault of your own. It could be layoffs, downsizing, or an employer deciding to close its doors. Maybe you or a family member has been in an accident and incurred medical expenses. Many kinds of unforeseen circumstances cause an inability to pay. Fortunately, with time and hard work these issues can usually be cured. See the story of one of our greatest presidents and how he struggled with debt.

We represent your creditor and cannot provide you with legal advice. If you are in need of assistance, we recommend that you look for a reputable consumer credit counseling agency in your area. A list of agencies can be found by contacting the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or by going to their link at www.nfcc.org.

Regardless of the circumstances, you need to understand that your creditor is better off with a judgment. With a judgment the indebtedness is recognized by the court and can be kept alive indefinitely. We can forward the judgment to any state, under the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution, and seek to collect the debt.

So when you get new employment, please thank your creditor for the services they provided by contacting us and setting up a payment arrangement.

Collection Industry has Duty to Treat Consumers Equitably

Robert Markoff, president, National Association of Retail, Collection Attorneys (NARCA) – Washington


As a young man, the future President Abraham Lincoln suffered financial hardship. At least three judgments were entered against him for non-payment of debts. Lincoln paid the first judgment in installments. For the other debts, the sheriff sold a few of Lincoln's possessions, including his horse and saddle ("Colleges' debit-card deals draw scrutiny," Cover story, News, March 17). Today's turbulent economy is leaving many people unable to pay their debts. Consumers are disturbed when they, like Honest Abe, fall behind. Knowing that one of this country's most highly regarded citizens faced and overcame serious financial problems can provide some perspective in hard times.

If there were no consequences for non-payment of one's obligations, the temptation would be for no one to pay his bills. Debt collection is an important part of our economy. All consumers would be penalized if businesses were unable to recoup losses resulting from bad debt. In 2005, $39.3 billion was repaid, saving the average American household $351 in reduced prices and greater purchasing power.

Nonetheless, just as consumers must act responsibly, so too must collection professionals. Members of the collection industry should never miss the opportunity to do the right thing in helping consumers meet their responsibilities.

The industry need only look back at one of its predecessors when considering its professional conduct. Within a year of the sheriff's sale of Lincoln's possessions, Lincoln became a lawyer whose main court practice involved debts. Honest Abe was a collection attorney.

USA TodayOPINION: Views from our editorial board, columnists and readers
Page 12A
April 1, 2008