When a witness testifies before Congress using a pseudonym and wearing a mask, it might mean trouble for an industry. In a March 1976 hearing, a “James Clark” testified to his activities as a debt collector, practices he said were not condoned, yet widespread in the industry. Some choice quotes include:
- “The most common technique for collecting debts was known as beating. This is continuous calling of an individual…
- “You could call and threaten a debtor with any number of things. You could threaten him with suit; you could threaten him with losing his children and putting them in orphanages; you could threaten him with going to jail; you could threaten him physically.
Debt collection was an industry where self-regulation failed utterly. Abusive practices seemed to be ignored or even rewarded. As Representative Frank Annunzio related in a hearing for legislation that ultimately passed as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the largest debt collection trade association had done nothing to police two agencies that had been sued by the FTC. In fact, the association’s president elect was under permanent injunction against engaging in illegal debt collection practices.
 Hrg. on H.R.11969, The Debt Collection Practices Act, before the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Currency and Housing, House of Representatives, 94th Cong. 2nd Sess., March 30, 1976.
 Hrg. On H.R. 29, the Debt Collection Practices Act, before the House Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, 95 Cong. 1st Sess., Mar. 8, 1977.