Child Support Collection Companies Not Complying With the Law
The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) is cautioning parents about engaging private companies to collect outstanding child support. “Before contracting with a private collection agency, make sure the company is legitimate,” urges Joe Doyle, OCA’s Administrator. Mr. Doyle wants parents to be aware of a new Georgia law, effective July 1, 2009, which requires private child support collection companies to register and post a bond with the Secretary of State, and to file with the Office of Consumer Affairs a sample copy of any contract they use in the State of Georgia. OCA will maintain a list on its website – www.consumer.ga.gov – of all private child support collection companies that have filed the required documentation with the State. If a company is not listed on OCA’s site, it has not complied with the law. As of this writing, no private child support companies in Georgia have filed contracts with the Office of Consumer Affairs.
The new law states that there must be three months of child support arrearages before a private collections company can contract to collect past due amounts. In addition, the law puts a cap on the fees that private collection companies can charge, limiting such fees to one-third of the total amount of child support payments collected. Consumers should also be aware that a private child support collector cannot charge a client for collecting anything other than the amount that is past due as of the date of the contract, together with any statutory interest owed on the past due amount. Thus, the current monthly payments that the custodial parent receives should not decline as a result of the new law.
Georgians are also reminded that the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) provides enforcement services to consumers at little or no cost. This state agency provides assistance with locating non-custodial parents, confirming paternity, establishing and enforcing child support and medical support orders, and collecting and distributing payments.
For more information, contact Bill Cloud, Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, at 404-656-3790.