01 feb At some point last year, she started getting calls from people-some in tears-making payments to Cash Biz through the court
Belinda Cinque, the hot-check clerk for Justice of the Peace Tom Lawrence in the Houston suburb of Humble, said she has little choice but to take payday lenders' criminal complaints. “If all of the elements match, I've got to take it,” she said. But she expressed discomfort with the situation, noting that the vast majority of borrowers had either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced at work. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but they sound like sharks,” Cinque told me. A collection agency was “threatening them that they were going to be taken to jail,” Cinque said. To her, it sounded like the debt was being collected from two directions-a debt-collection company and through the court. She told Cash Biz to stop filing hot-check complaints as long as the company was using debt collectors.
Almost all of the cases in Lawrence's Harris County court emanate from Cash Biz, which appears to have found a way around the prohibition on prosecuting “held” or post-dated checks.