EYE ON UTILITIES

After DTE sold their debt, Detroiters faced lawsuits and garnished wages
Kristal Dailey looks at a court document from Jefferson Capital Systems’ case against her. Photo credit: Nick Hagen
DTE Energy has quietly sold the debt of more than 290,000 residential customers and nearly 14,000 commercial accounts, in a little-noticed financial maneuver.

The sale brought DTE just pennies for each dollar owed: $4.8 million in exchange for the right to pursue more than $282 million in debt. But for low-income customers whose debt was sold, it was a consequential event, thrusting them into the hands of a debt collector that aggressively sues people. Under Michigan law, these cases can result in creditors garnishing up to a quarter of a person’s wages, as well as refunds from their state income tax returns.
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