One Lou Correa
One Lou Correa

Debt Collector Picked Wrong Lou Correa to Mess With

The many, many, many laws cranked out of Sacramento every year usually come from constituents (one hopes), lobbyists (more likely) and the winds of change blowing off the Delta (likeliest of all).

However, there are instances where a legislator's own experiences shape legislation. Take the case of Sears, its collection agency and two Orange Countians named Lou Correa.

On May 20, the Office of Senate Benefits received a court order to garnish the wages of state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Anaheim) to pay off a $4,000 debt. No, the veteran politico had not bet on the ponies, ordered too many pay-per-views or reimbursed fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner for shared lube--or, at least Correa did not incur a debt doing those things.

As Capitol Weekly reports, a completely different Luis Correa had wracked up $4,000 in charges at Sears. The department store's billing department handed the original debt off to LVNV Funding LLC, a debt-collection clearinghouse, which in turn hired the Brachfield Law Group--with offices in El Segundo, Houston and Columbus, Ohio--to collect the actual debt.

Brachfield sent batches of letters to Luis Correa that went unanswered. So, the company apparently decided to stick it to Lou Correa instead. The senator sent batches of letters to Sears and Brachfield explaining they got the wrong deadbeat. Those letters went unanswered, too.

Then came the order to garnish Correa the senator's wages. Needless to say, he did not take the news well. After sharing his horror story with his Senate seat mate Mark Leno, the San Francisco Democrat drafted consumer protection legislation aimed at helping those in the same predicament as Correa. "The Fair Debt Buyers Act," as Leno's SB 890 is known, would put the burden of proof on debt collectors to prove they're going after the right people.

A two-year bill, it is not expected to be dealt with until January, as the Senate is more preoccupied currently with the budget. Once that's settled, Correa plans to hold hearings in his district to see if others have been unjustifiably strong-armed by debt collectors. The issue has also likely put the operations of Brachfield under an unflattering--and unwelcome--new light.

Has anyone out there in Navel Gazing Land experienced anything like Correa has? Do share in the comments below.


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