7 On Your Side: People’s paychecks garnished for debts they don’t owe

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
By Michael Finney

People’s paychecks are being garnished for debts that do not belong to them and here’s the kicker — it’s perfectly legal.

A woman from the East Bay is the sole breadwinner in her family; so imagine how hard it was when a collection agency started taking hundreds of dollars out of her paycheck to pay a bill that wasn’t even hers.

Kristy Piper lives in Oakland and works for the Alameda County Social Service Agency. She helps people every day, but she needed help herself after getting a shocking call last year.

“‘We’re calling regarding a debt and there has been a judgment placed on you and we want to resolve the debt,’ and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?'” Piper said.

It turns out, in 2006 All Cal Collection Services bought a $2,600 credit card debt from Chase that it believed belonged to Piper. All Cal served the lawsuit at Piper’s old address and someone there signed the papers.

“I honestly can tell you I never knew about the judgment,” Piper said.

Piper believes someone stole her identity and opened the card.

Ted Mermin is an attorney for the Public Law Group. He says companies buy debt for pennies and then hire collection agencies in hopes they’ll be able to collect something.

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