Thieves, rapists and other criminal offenders are found to have landed jobs as debt collectors in Minnesota with access to financial data.
There are at least 743 criminal offenders in the state of Minnesota who are hired as debt collectors and Lee Song is just one of them. She’s been caught for forgery of checks when she swindled her past employer out of more than $100,000 by submitting phony voucher payments but only less than four years, she was cleared to work as a debt collector by the Minnesota Commerce Department—a job that gives her access to private financial details of people.
When offenders fill out application forms to be debt collectors in Minnesota, 75% of them lie about their criminal history and the Commerce Department that’s responsible for regulating collectors routinely provides approval for them to work in the industry without even conducting background checks.
According to consumer attorney in Minneapolis, Patrick Hayes, the state’s system in screening debt collectors is broken. He added that the state doesn’t seem to care if the hardened criminals knows where the people bank, where they live and where their relatives and friends live.
The crimes committed by most of the offenders employed as debt collectors include rape, identity theft, assault, check forgery and serious drunken driving. Most of these offenders are able to legally work as debt collectors because the Minnesota law excludes only those who are convicted of felony within five years of their application.
Still, what’s alarming is that those who aren’t qualified as debt collectors are found to have landed jobs. At least 111 registered collectors in 2005 had been found to have committed crimes that under the state law should have been barred from working in the debt collection industry.
The Commerce Department of Minnesota says that it lacks the resources needed to conduct background checks on all its applicants and asserts that all collection agancies should do it themselves or they will have to pay fines. However, the collection firms usually point to state government for the registration of criminal offenders as debt collectors effectively providing them with a stamp of approval.