The Israel Consumer Council (ICC) has recently received above 3000 Consumers' complaints against a business firm , regarding the collection process in respect of alleged debt for mobile content services, while the consumers deny the inscription to the service (several years previously) and the debts.
The whole affair illustrates the huge power gap consumers meet when having to face aggressive procedures of debt- collection, in which large companies use frightening law-firms against the consumers even before contacting the consumers directly.
In order to prevent the recurrence of demands for payment, while the consumer is not at all aware of being associated with a transaction or of the very existence of a debt (if any), the Israel Consumer Council has decided to promote a bill aimed to prevent aggressive collection of money from consumers. The bill will impose obligation on businesses seeking to collect debts to send a registered letter before turning to attorneys, stipulating the name of the business, the details of the debt and the method for calculating this debt, as well as the existence of a transaction or of a debt. Such an obligation will enable consumers to deal with the demand for payment – especially in cases when this demand is not justified- without surrendering to the pressure of law firms who refuse to provide information and documents. This proposal would provide the consumer with independent coping tools even before legal proceedings are being undertaken.
That case also illustrates the need for an additional basic consumer right:
The Right to a Proper Defence.
When we examined the 8 existing Rights, we did not find any that covers that right;. the closest to this was the Right to be informed, but its definition refers to full disclosure before signing or making the deal, for the purpose of being able to make an informed choice.
However, in the present case the deal had already been made, sometimes long ago, and the consumer faces an allegation of being in debt, but without providing him with any proof to support this allegation.
Therefore, ICC proposed to CI, towards the 2014 WCRD, to declare
a 9th Consumer-Right which would cover that situation.
The Right to a Proper Defense is the right to receive all necessary evidence and documentation needed to verify claims of debts and demands of payments.