Debt-Collection Companies Using Official Prosecutor Letterheads Slammed by ABA

The American Bar Association recently issued an ethics opinion (Op. 469)  holding that it is a clear violation of the rules of professional conduct for prosecutors to provide official letterhead to debt-collection companies for use in demand letters. I had to pause and gather myself when I read this. There are numerous abuses associated with the debt collection industry, but the notion that prosecutors around the country would be in bed with these entities is shocking to me. May be I am too naive.

As it turns out, with budget constraints prosecutors offices around the country have turned to selling letterheads and other information to debt collection companies.  To add insult to injury, there has been little oversight by the prosecutors over the use of the letterheads. Therefore, the debt collection companies are running wild and policing their own use of these powerful letterheads.

This is a very pernicious practice that cannot be allowed to stand. A debtor who receives such a letterhead is likely to be scarred to death with the prospect of a prosecution where none may be forthcoming or even possible. If this is not the definition of misleading then I don’t know what it is. Therefore, it is perplexing why any prosecutor’s office would allow debt collection companies to have unrestricted access to its letterheads. The potential for sullying the prosecutor’s office and undermining the public’s confidence cannot be overstated.

It is high time the ABA denounce this practice and hopefully prosecutors’ offices around the country are paying attention.