Deadbeat Profiteers

Private collection agencies are going after delinquent parents who owe child support. But do the companies benefit kids--or themselves?

Suzanne Simmonds was fed up. For 6 1/2 years, she had been unable to collect the child support her ex-boyfriend was legally required to pay. So in January 2001 she signed a contract with Child Support Network. She agreed to pay the Arizona company a $500 application fee and a 35% commission on any collections of the $3,800 owed to her daughter. After five months, the agency had pocketed $885, and Simmonds had received just $215. When she tried to get out of the contract, the company refused, ordered her to pay more than $1,800 for its efforts and sent her...

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