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English > News > Closing a loophole in the consumer protection's net / Adv Ehud Peleg >

Closing a loophole in the consumer protection's net / Adv Ehud Peleg

 

Forgetfulness is a well-known human weakness. It is not driven by bad intention, even when it comes to debt payments that you have not made. In many cases, a reminder is sufficient for the debtor to pay his debt, and for the creditor - to get his money.


Unfortunately, some creditors have tried to take advantage of this debtor's weakness in order to open particularly insidious "savings plans": they have waited during several years up to the limit of prescription (seven years), so that the debt bears indexation and interest far beyond the rates practiced in the banks. Only then do they turn to the debtor with frightening requests, threatening them of filing suits for execution proceedings, if he does not pay his debt – that has grown - immediately, plus expenses and collection procedures.

 

One may claim that the debtor has indeed brought this problem upon himself, since he did not remember to repay the debt on time, but we have already mentioned that to forget is human. However, deliberate planning of "amnesia" by the debt-holder constitutes a dishonest conduct designed to deceive consumers and to get benefits of their weakness.


Various factors have even surpassed themselves, so that even when there is no debt at all, they used to send consumers requests of repayment for debts allegedly made several years earlier, while they relied, in these cases as well, on the consumer's short memory, without providing him with any reference of this debt so that he cannot verify and discover how absurd is the request.


It seems that when an opportunity for financial gain is appealing for some business owners, they are blinded and disregard values such as honesty and integrity, not to mention respecting the law. Many consumers have panicked due to the frightening requests and have hastened to pay off debts that did not exist.


Following the exposure of the dimensions of this phenomenon, the "Israel Consumer Council" has initiated a consumer protection amendment, that has been proposed in the previous Knesset by former MK Boaz Toporovsky, and that has been promoted at the actual Knesset by Deputy President of the Knesset, MK Yoël Hasson (HaMahaneh HaTzioni - The Zionist Camp), along with MK Uri Maklev (Yahadout HaTorah - Torah Judaism).


The law, which MK Hasson and Maklev managed to pass last week in second and third readings, put an end to the reality of debt collection that is generally dishonest, from which tens of thousands of consumers have suffered. Thanks to this law, debt-owners will have to send a written reminder about the existence of the debt, not later than four months from the date of its creation, and thus, provide a calculation and documentation to prove the veracity of the debt.


Creditors who will not respect the law, will be exposed to heavy financial penalties by the "Fair Trade Authority" and if they hurry to turn to legal proceedings, they will be charged with collection expenses, even if the debt itself is justified.


This way, the Knesset closes a loophole in the consumer protection net, and, in addition, conveys an important message to business owners, according to which even enforcing a legal right you have towards a consumer, should be carried out in good faith, in honesty and with clean hands.


During the complex legislative work, MPs Hasson and Maklev, along with the Consumer Council, had to face important opposition by large companies in the market, who wanted to "exclude" themselves from the law. Fortunately, the MPs resisted the pressure and kept in promoting the legislative process, while they adhered to the principles that were established.


Albert Einstein said, "The opposite of forgetting things is to write them down". The Israeli legislator says, "The opposite of taking advantage of forgetfulness, is fairness and equity"

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The Israel Consumer Council is the largest consumer organization in Israel. It is a statutory, non-profit corporation which works to defend consumers and protect their rights, by handling complaints, seeking solutions..