Thousands of debt collection cases dismissed

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn of the District Court of Maryland Wednesday dismissed 3,168 debt collection cases against Maryland residents.

Judge Clyburn's order follows a settlement and final order in a federal class action against Worldwide Asset Purchasing and its affiliates issued by U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett.* In that case, it was alleged that Worldwide Asset Purchasing and its affiliates were not properly registered or licensed, misstated amounts owed and improperly stated Social Security numbers in state court filings, and filed collection lawsuits after the statute of limitations had expired.

Judge Clyburn dismissed the cases with prejudice, which means they cannot be re-filed. The order also states that judgments in the cases are marked as "satisfied" and judgment liens are released.

Worldwide Asset Purchasing is a "debt buying" company, which means that it buys debts that have been abandoned by the original creditors, usually credit card companies, for a tiny fraction of the amount owed. Debts may be sold to other debt buyers several times, and the documentation to prove the debt is owed sometimes is little more than the person's name, last known address and Social Security number.

"In the current recession, the District Court has seen an increase in the number of debt collection cases," Judge Clyburn said. "We have responded to many issues related to debt-buying, and we now have new rules in place that help make the process more transparent, give the judge more information, and help level the playing field."

Defendants whose cases have been dismissed will receive written notification from the District Court of Maryland.

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