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Friday, July 29, 2005

Debt Collectors Taken To Cleaners

This is good, very good. The FTC won its case against abusive debt collectors. Press Release:
The Federal Trade Commission has won a $10.2 million judgment against a debt- collection operation, National Check Control, and its principals – the estimated amount of consumer injury they caused. The amount represents the largest judgment in FTC history for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In addition, a federal district court judge has permanently banned the defendants from engaging in debt collection in the future.

In a complaint filed in May 2003, the FTC alleged that the defendants violated the FDCPA by harassing and threatening consumers with claims that they owed money for checks returned for insufficient funds. The defendants made repeated phone calls, sent threatening letters, and falsely threatened that consumers could face civil or criminal charges if they did not pay the debts. The FTC alleged that, in many cases, the consumers did not owe the money, or owed far less than the defendants claimed. At that time, the court entered a temporary restraining order freezing the defendants’ assets.
The money that is collected is supposed to be used to refund the defrauded. The judgment is here, and it has teeth. Sometimes the guys in the white hats do win!

If you have paid money to CHECK INVESTORS, INC., CHECK ENFORCEMENT, INC., JAREDCO, INC., BARRY SUSSMAN, AND CHARLES HUTCHINS you may have some money coming. The judgment lists the code sections and counts against the defendents, so if you or anyone else you know is being harassed by any other debt collectors, print a copy of the judgment itself. It is an excellent weapon. Filing a complaint with the FTC does work and even the threat will often produce excellent results.

A year or so ago I got a call from a collection agency in Charlotte claiming I owed money (I did not). I was harassed for a month or so, despite sending and faxing evidence that I had been misidentified and was not the person I they were looking for. When the calls started to get threatening, I decided enough was enough.

One Monday morning I took a drive to Charlotte, went to the authorities, explained the situation and acompanied them as we went to collection agency offices.

I left their with travel expense and a large sum- what I claimed were lost wages, as well as profuse apologies. With the authorities watching, they could hardly write the check fast enough. The manager was most cooperative and helpful.

The authorities left with the names and numbers of all the 'clients' my 'account rep' contacted, to see if the threats and harrasment was part of pattern.

Wanna hear something funny? I don't get any more calls from that agency.
And hopefully you discouraged such tactics. That's one of the counts against these people - they were collecting money that people did not owe by threatening them with arrest or prosecution.

Not fine people. They deserve what they got.
There is a judgment; however, good luck on collecting.

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