Finally! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other Federal, State and Local authorities have pooled their resources in a move to stop unscrupulous and illegal debt collection!
The FTC published in its webpage (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/ftc-abusive-debt-collectors-youre-outta-business) a sample letter issued by a rogue collection agency to pressure people, during these times of recession and economic difficulties, into paying a debt that they did not owe.
Presuppose you receive a letter like this, how would you feel:
“This is the Civil Investigations Unit. We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being
filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear… Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order. You or your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter… Call 757-555-1234.”
The culprit company, Pinnacle Payment Services used different kinds of dirty tactics including posing as an affiliate of a law enforcement company by using fictitious business names. The Judge ordered that Pinnacle be permanently banned from debt collection or any business that has something to do with debts. They were also fined more than $9,000,000.00.
Illegal debt collection activities are now a priority to the FTC. FTC has expressed a desire to partner with collection agencies to make sure that their practices conform to what is acceptable, legal, and fair. There have been filed over 30 new law enforcement actions bringing to over a hundred the number of actions taken against rip-off artists, scammers and fraudulent and abusive debt collectors.
It is time for the consumer to hit back! No more sleepless nights! Identify them, know their dirty little tactics, gather evidence, and with the help of the FTC, sue them, fight back and get paid! Every consumer deserves to be respected, and no collector may violate his rights nor demean his character and none of them may hinder a consumer’s lifestyle nor harass or threaten them into paying.
With the FTC’s Edith Ramirez, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, New York’s Attorney General, the National Registry and Minnesota Commerce Department Commissioner’s Mike Rothman taking the initiative in a move called Operation Collection Protection Initiative, over 70 enforcement partners will collaborate with victims of collection harassment to stop scam operators and other illegal collection practices.
These practices may include one or more of the following:
- Disrespectful or Harassing phone calls
- False threats of litigation, arrest and wage garnishments
- Impersonating attorneys, court employees, process servers, policemen
- Using fake debts or debts the consumer does not owe, to harass
- Unlawfully disclosing debt information to third parties thereby embarrassing the debtor
- Not giving the consumer details of the debts or a chance to verify on his own the correctness of the subject amount.
- Threatening suspension of driver’s licenses, confiscation of one’s properties, litigation, and imprisonment
A lot of consumers pay up in order to avoid embarrassment because they get scared or simply because they want peace of mind.
These threats may come from illicit as well as legitimate creditors for even legitimate creditors sometimes resort to unfair misrepresentation, illegal use of loan information, failure to disclose material facts about their financial products like loans, credit assistance, and debt relief.
With FTC’s efforts, consumers may yet feel relaxed knowing that they are being protected from these illegal collectors.