If so, then you might not pass GO, but go directly to jail.
Collection agencies are filing lawsuits and then sending court summons. If you don't appear for a court judgment, a warrant is issued for your arrest. Bail is many times set at the balance you owe on your unpaid debt (up to a certain limit), and the sleazy collection agencies have been using the resources of the taxpayers (police and courts) to collect these unpaid debts and profit from them.
We can always rely on our sleazy lawyers to make a buck while hurting people are struggling during hard times...that's what always made America so great.
I just read this in the Star Tribune: Deborah Poplawski had only learned by chance from an employment counselor during a background check while looking for a job that she had an outstanding warrant. Debt Equities, a "debt buyer", had sued her. Deborah says nobody had ever served her with court documents.
A month later she was digging in her purse for coins to feed a downtown parking meter when she saw the flashing lights of a police squad car behind her. Poplawski, a restaurant cook, assumed she had parked illegally. Instead, she was headed to jail over a $250 credit card debt.
"We hear every day about how there's no money for public services," she says, "But it seems like the debt collectors have found a way to get the police to do their work.
Though Poplawski, who knew of the warrant and unpaid debt, said "I wasn't equating the warrant with going to jail, because there wasn't criminal activity associated with it. I just thought it was a civil thing."
She spent nearly 25 hours in the County jail, where she had been ordered to change into the standard jail uniform. While in jail a male inmate groped her behind in a crowded elevator and she had to sleep in a room with up to 16 other women - with one toilet and no privacy. One woman had offered her drugs.
The next day, Poplawski appeared before a district judge. He told her to fill out a form listing her assets and bank account, and released her. Several weeks later, Debt Equities used this information to seize funds from her bank account. (Personally, if after I had my court appearance, I would have cleaned out my bank account. What was she thinking?)
Well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect. The debt buyers file tens of thousands of other collection actions seeking court orders to make people pay. The debts, often five or six years old, are purchased from companies like cell phone providers and credit card issuers, and cost a few cents on the dollar. Using automated dialing equipment and teams of lawyers, the debt-buyer firms try to collect the debt, plus interest and fees. A firm aims to collect at least twice what it paid for the debt to cover costs. Anything beyond that is profit.
Few debtors realize they can land in jail simply for ignoring debt-collection legal matters. Debtors also may not recognize the names of companies seeking to collect old debts. Some people are contacted by three or four firms as delinquent debts are bought and sold multiple times after the original creditor writes off the account.
And if you can barely pay for rent and food, how do you hire a bankruptcy lawyer to get a government bail out like the big banks?
Full Disclosure: I owe AT&T an unpaid balance of 57 cents on my last cell phone bill.
JUDGE: "Mister Meyers, you are accused of free-loading. How do you plead?"
ME: "Not guilty your honor."
JUDGE "Then I hereby set your bail at 57 cents. Until such time you will be remanded to the County jail. Bailiff, get this scumbag out of my face! Next!"