Outfit that orchestrated phantom debt scheme struck a sour note

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Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
It’s illegal under fed’ral law to collect debts you’re not assigned.

Say the name “Lombardo” and some may think of the late bandleader Guy Lombardo, whose rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” serenaded people every New Year’s Eve with “the sweetest music this side of Heaven.” But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, a North Carolina outfit that uses the business name “Lombardo, Daniels & Moss” engaged in a phantom debt collection scheme and directed language toward consumers that was far from heavenly.

The complaint alleges that Dion Barron, Charles R. Montgomery III, and the corporate defendant called consumers to pressure them to pay debts that either the consumer didn’t owe or that the defendants had no right to collect. Also using names like “Barron, Gibson & Phillips” or “Cohen, Daniels & Moss,” the defendants allegedly gave people the false impression that the debts had been referred to a law firm or attorney for collection.

The FTC says collectors threatened to sue people, garnish their wages, freeze their bank accounts, or even have them arrested if they didn’t fork over the payment. Of course, according to the complaint, in many cases, the defendants lobbed these threats at people who never owed money in the first place or had already paid.

The complaint also charges the defendants with numerous violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for illegally calling people at work, telling third parties about people’s supposed debt, and failing to provide required validation notices – to cite just a few of the allegations.

In addition, the complaint has a few choice words to say about the choice words the defendants allegedly directed at consumers. The FDCPA makes it illegal for debt collectors to harass or abuse consumers, including through the use of obscene or profane language. And yet according to the FTC, the defendants’ collectors were known to drop F bombs and call people names like “lying son of a b****.” In one instance, a collector allegedly cursed at a consumer’s young daughter.

A federal court in Charlotte has temporarily halted the operation and frozen its assets.

Looking for a debt collection compliance refresher? Here’s a three-minute recap.

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