Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sallie Mae's Arrow Financial Gets a Wrist Slap

It's nice to have friends in high places, especially when you're a slime-ball collector who violates the law.

Good 'ol Sallie Mae bought Niles, Illinois-based Arrow Financial Services about a year ago. Arrow is one of the junk-debt Squaliforme Echeneidae. They've been under investigation over the last two years in Minnesota for little tricks like calling employers and talking to co-workers about debtors, taking more money out of checking accounts than was authorized, failing to respond to the investigators, etc.

Apparently, up there in Minnesota, Commissioner Glenn Wilson of the Commerce Department is still wondering why this type of stuff goes on. Well, a quick look at the measly fines they dish out with Wilson claiming "The violations are serious and we cannot and will not tolerate this type of activity in Minnesota," puts a little more light on why.

According to a news article, Wilson's department regulates 879 licensed collection agencies and nearly 31,000 individual collectors. But in the last 33 months, they've only taken action against 33 collection agencies and individual debt collectors - that's only about one a month.

And with those 33 actions, they've taken in about $300,000 in penalties. You do the math. Wilson's math isn't all that good - the fine for Arrow is $125,000 for 15 violations, and it's apparently a record fine.

I suppose what Wilson and the folks at Sallie Mae would love everyone to believe is that this strong (?) enforcement will somehow make the other 878 licensed agencies and 31,000 individual collectors sit up and take notice when they're harassing citizens of Minnesota.

Sure. They're all simply terrified.

For dragging a simple investigation out over two years and then letting Arrow off with a wrist slap, Wilson and his minions in Minnesota get the Sleeping-Watch-Dog award for November.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

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