It’s fine to play “let’s pretend” when you’re young; you can be an astronaut today and an inventor tomorrow. But grown-ups who pretend to be debt collectors and lie to get peoples’ money are headed for trouble.
At the request of the FTC and the Illinois Attorney General, a federal court has shut down a network of businesses and operators that falsely claimed to be debt collectors collecting real payday loan debts. The FTC said that the operations — called Stark Law, Stark Recovery, Capital Harris Miller & Associates and other names — had no authority to collect the debts they called about. And yet, says the FTC, they relentlessly threatened and harassed people, and got millions of dollars in un-deserved payments.
According to the FTC, the companies called people who had applied for payday or other short-term loans, and then claimed their loans were delinquent. The companies intimidated people with threats of lawsuits, or having them charged with “defrauding a financial institution” for passing bad checks. For a time, the defendants even posed as a law firm, claiming they could sue people and get judgments against them. The companies called people repeatedly, and called their friends, relatives and employers, told lies — and generally made peoples’ lives miserable. Many people paid because they were worried about the consequences of not paying or just wanted the harassment to stop.
You have rights if a debt collector calls. Debt collectors aren’t allowed to harass you, make false statements, or use other unfair practices. If someone harasses you about a debt or threatens to have you arrested, there’s a good chance he’s a fake. This video shows how you can deal with debt collectors.