Affidavits attesting to the validity of a debt are a crucial part of the legal process when a lawsuit has to be filed against an individual because of an unpaid bill or account. A published report looks into the process to discuss how much information someone needs when signing an affidavit and whose job it is to verify the information.
In a much-welcomed breath of fresh air, the report actually includes significant contributions from an industry expert, who not only lays out its side of the argument, but also calls into question who is in charge — a judge or a consumer advocate.
The report examines the testimony of a employee of Midland Funding, who reviewed information about an account, and if everything was accurate, signed an affidavit attesting to that fact. If the employee saw that the information was not accurate, she did not have the power to alter it, but would not sign the affidavit.
A consumer advocate called the affidavits “a failure of fairness,” because the documents too often are based on “flimsy or inaccurate information.” To fix this, the advocates want “a records custodian with personal knowledge of the debt to swear under oath that the information is accurate,” according to the report.
To the industry’s defense comes Joann Needleman from Clark Hill, who responds that it’s not the advocacy’s job to determine whether evidence is admissible.
“The advocates are not the ones that need to be satisfied,’’ she said in the report. “The courts are the ones that need to be satisfied. It’s up to a judge to determine whether an affidavit is valid or not.”