Even though it’s a new year, some things remain the same. Illegal debt collection is still a big problem – which means it’s a big deal here at the FTC. We’ve made some progress: you might remember the 115 cases we announced in November, working with more than 70 law enforcement partners. That was big, but we’re not done yet.
What do the cases have in common? In all four, the company pretended to be someone they were not – a court official, law enforcement, process servers. In all four, they threatened consumers – telling people they’d be arrested, their vehicle would be impounded, their wages garnished, they’d be sued if they didn’t pay. And all four failed to give consumers the information they’d need to dispute the debt. Which is, of course, required by the law.
But three of the cases had their own special brand of illegality, according to the FTC: Warrant Enforcement Division made their false claims in writing – sending letters and postcards saying things like: “FINAL NOTICE BEFORE ARREST.” AFS Legal Services didn’t even verify that the people they were calling actually owed money – yet they contacted relatives, friends and co-workers about the person’s debts. And Williams Scott knew the debts weren’t real, but they tried to collect them anyway. All illegal.
When there are so many bad debt collectors, what’s a person to do? Well, check out the story of Bryan Noyes, an Army veteran who got harassing debt collection calls – and then got help from Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine. As he and Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Rob Liscord, say in the video: there are services that can help you. And tell the FTC if you spot a bad debt collector. Every report makes a difference.
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