Bonnie Hanson, right and her daughter, Sherry Peterson, fought for two years to get a debt buyer to stop trying to collect on an old credit-card debt dating back to 1995. They even had a cancelled check from 1997 showing that they had paid the debt off to the credit-card company. But Dakota Bluff, a debt buyer owned by Minneapolis law firm Messerli & Kramer, continued to hound Hanson and Peterson. Peterson held her 3-year-old son Ethan.
Star Tribune reporters Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt on Tuesday won a 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for their 2010 series "Hounded -- Debtors and the New Breed of Collectors."
Michael J. Berens of the Seattle Times also won a Loeb in the same category for "Seniors for Sale."
Serres, Howatt and assistant business editor David Shaffer investigated holes in Minnesota's debt-collection laws that allowed some consumers to be harassed in shocking ways. They won in the small and medium-sized newspaper category. Glen Stubbe was the photographer. Read the series online here: www.startribune.com/hounded.
The awards, administered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, are named for financier Gerald Loeb, who aimed to perpetuate quality reporting and writing for individual investors by leaving the awards as his legacy.
In May, the "Hounded" series won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, which recognizes outstanding work that fosters the public's understanding of the legal system.