Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky
December 26, 2011
Filing and completing bankruptcy proceedings is supposed to free consumers from paying any outstanding debt to credit card companies. But that hasn’t stopped Capital One, one of the leading credit card lenders, from going after bankrupt Americans.
More than 15,000 times, Capital One has taken individuals who have gone bankrupt to court in an effort to squeeze more money out of them. To do so knowingly is against the law. The company claims it just made a mistake…several thousand times.
Of the 15,500 people subjected to Capital One lawsuits, more than 800 of them have filed counter-suits to stop the company.
One bankruptcy judge, David Houston III in Aberdeen, Mississippi, plans to demand that representatives of Capital One appear before him in his court to explain its debt-collection practices. The judge previously rejected the company’s request to throw out a lawsuit that alleged Capital One sought $43,396.59 that was legally erased in an earlier bankruptcy case filed by the same person.
“I want some proof from the company that this was a legitimate error and not a conscious, malevolent effort to go out and collect a debt that’s been discharged,” Houston told The Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal, “In 2008, a U.S. bankruptcy trustee in Massachusetts accused Capital One of illegally trying 5,600 times to collect debts already wiped out by a bankruptcy judge.” That same year, Capital One was itself saved from potential bankruptcy when it received a $3.55 billion bailout from U.S. taxpayers as part of the Treasury Department’s Capital Purchase Program.
The founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Capital One is the ironically named Richard Fairbank.