An FTC lawsuit has put the brakes on a debt collection operation that the agency says used deception to collect traffic tickets, court fines, and other municipal debts for more than 300 local governments in eight Southern and Midwestern states.
Blog Posts Tagged with Debt Collection
“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Before we start making New Year’s resolutions for 2017, let’s assess last year’s pledges. In announcing Operation Collection Protection, a coordinated federal-state-local initiative to take on illegal debt collection practices, we made two promises: 1) to continue our commitment in the courtroom, if necessary; and 2) to foster close working relationships with law enforcement partners across the country. Here’s what we have to report.
The military community makes many of the same consumer decisions as their civilian counterparts. We all need to manage our money – and avoid rip-offs. But servicemembers and their families also face unique challenges, like frequent relocations and deployment. When a permanent change of station is on the horizon, a military family needs to rent or buy a new place to live, manage money while on the move, and be vigilant about dealing with businesses in an unfamiliar locale. A servicemember’s regular paycheck from Uncle Sam can make them a target for scammers.
“Thank you for being a friend” – to consumers, that is. We admit it. We’re prone to break out in song a little too enthusiastically, but the recipient of the FTC Criminal Liaison Unit’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Award merits a chorus of congratulations.
The FTC’s lawsuit against AMG Services, Scott Tucker, and others challenged deceptive and unfair payday lending and debt collection practices that targeted cash-strapped consumers. The case has already resulted in an important ruling related to the scope of the FTC Act. But an order granting the FTC’s Motion for Summary Judgment includes a history-making provision: a $1.3 billion financial remedy – the largest ever in a litigated FTC case.
Innovative financial technology is changing the way consumers borrow, share, and spend money, offering the promise of increased convenience and access to financial services. The FTC is hosting a series of FinTech events to broadly explore the implications of this financial technology for consumers, building on the agency’s longstanding focus on technological innovation and extensive enforcement experience in the area of non-bank financial practices.
A certain famous chef is known for exclaiming “BAM!” when he wants to extract the most flavor from a recipe. The FTC’s case against an unrelated California company called BAM Financial alleges a far less savory form of extraction.
“Is it getting hot in here?” For companies that engage in illegal debt collection practices, the answer is a resounding yes. One reason is the unprecedented cooperative effort by federal and state law enforcers to turn up the heat on violators. There’s more to come, of course, but efforts like Operation Collection Protection prove that consumer protection agencies are stronger when we work together.
A complaint filed by the FTC and the Illinois Attorney General against an operation that used names like Stark Law, Stark Recovery, and Capital Harris Miller & Associates alleges a veritable smorgasbord of debt collection violations. But the Stark Law lawsuit includes an additional allegation that should send a stark warning to those in the debt buying business.
We get this question a lot: “Is it OK to use text messages or social media to collect debts?” Do you want the short answer or the more detailed one? The short answer is that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t prohibit collectors from using texts or social media. But – and this is a major caveat – recent FTC law enforcement actions suggest that using them can present particular compliance challenges. That’s the short answer. If you collect debts as part of your business, read on to find out more.
We’ve learned that portfolios of alleged payday loan debts serviced by AMG Services are circulating in the debt collection marketplace. The alleged lenders are USFastCash, 500FastCash, OneClickCash, Ameriloan, United Cash Loans, AdvantageCashServices, and StarCashProcessing. But these alleged debts are bogus. The consumers do not owe the alleged debts, and the lenders have never authorized, assigned, or sold any of their loans for third-party collection.
Usually a Top 10 list is something industries are delighted to find themselves on. So we’ll call this one a Flop 10 list, the FTC’s annual report about consumer complaints added in 2015 to the Consumer Sentinel database. How did your industry – and your state – rank in reported complaints?
First, the box score:
When we announced Operation Collection Protection in November, a federal-state crackdown on illegal debt collection practices, we said it was just the start of a historic partnership – and we weren’t kidding.
2015 saw the end of The Late Show with David Letterman, but his Top 10 List legacy lives on. From the home office in Washington, D.C., here is our informal take on ten topics we covered this year in the BCP Business Blog.
As the song by The Who asks, “Who are you?” When it comes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, many companies think they know who they are. If they’re third-party debt collectors, they’re covered by the FDCPA. If they’re creditors collecting their own debts, they aren’t. But as I mentioned recently in a presentation at an industry event, it’s not that simple.
Whether it was turn-of-the-century conman George C. Parker or Peaches O’Day, Mae West’s character in the movie “Every Day’s a Holiday,” the annals of consumer protection are filled with stories of people attempting to sell the Brooklyn Bridge or other things they don’t own. Announced as part of Operation Collection Protection, a lawsuit filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General alleges a variation on that theme.
Georgia’s on our mind – and if you have clients in the debt collection industry, it should be on yours, too. That’s because the FTC’s third Debt Collection Dialogue is set for Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Atlanta. The FTC is hosting the event with the Office of the Georgia AG and Attorney General Sam Olens will set the stage with opening remarks at 1:00 PM.
If there were a Debt Collection Decathlon – and we’re glad there isn’t – National Check Registry would have been a contender. According to the FTC and New York AG, the Buffalo-based debt collector “excelled” in a number of events: the Bogus Lawsuit Vault, the Disclosure of Debt Dash, and the Unauthorized Fee High Jump, to name just a few.
For debt collectors who resort to illegal tactics, it must feel like 110 in the shade because 115 law enforcement actions announced this year by the FTC and local, state, federal, and international partners – including 30 just-filed cases – have turned up the heat on law violators. From Buffalo to San Diego and dozens of jurisdictions in between, companies that flout debt collection standards are feeling the burn.