Another week has come and gone, and the news stories keep rolling in across the debt collection industry. In recent weeks, lawsuits and changes to consumer protection laws have dominated headlines. By and large, that trend remains, but light has also been shed on a number of scams making the rounds in America as debt collectors (or imposters) look to collect money that isn’t due. A roundup of all the week’s top headlines is featured below.
Residents of Central Florida are receiving disturbing phone calls from bogus debt collectors. Most of the calls follow a similar storyline. The callers have information only a consumer should have about themselves, such as Social Security number, telephone number, or address, and inform individuals that they are calling to collect on debts ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. One Orlando-area resident said that the caller “threatened to have someone come over to my house and serve papers.” An investigation found that the calls came from a debt collection scam, and that CR and Associates of Norfolk, VA was behind the calls. The firm has been listed on a number of scam reporting websites since 2009.
Residents in and around Wichita, KS have received numerous calls from debt collectors looking to collect on overdue accounts in recent weeks. Unfortunately, the collectors are calling anyone other than the individual responsible for the debts. A local resident reported receiving multiple phone calls for an account that wasn’t his. This is part of a larger trend that is increasing across the country. Debt collectors are calling individuals simply because their name or hometown matches information on an account they’re trying to collect. Dennis Groene of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends informing the caller that the information is incorrect, and then ignoring subsequent calls.
This week’s hot-button issue continues to plague consumers as Iowa AG Tim Miller’s office issued a warning to businesses across the state regarding threatening debt collection calls. While harassing debt collection efforts are often aimed at individual consumers, a scam in Iowa is focusing on businesses. Callers threaten to cut off utilities if businesses don’t make immediate payments using prepaid debit cards. The AG’s office advises all business to hang up on these callers and not to follow the threatening and abusive language used by the scammers.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, has filed a permanent injunction against James A. Havassy and the Hamilton Law Group (located in Lehigh Valley) for using the Filial Responsibility Law in an abusive and intimidating manner to collect on debts. The AG’s office alleges that the attorney and his firm engaged in intimidation to collect medical debts from family members of those with overdue bills. The firm is charged with violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, and the complaint seeks restitution for victims of the firm’s debt collection practices.
When the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau meet in New York on June 15 to discuss the state of debt collection in the US, members of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA) will be there to join in the dialogue. The event is being hosted by the New York Attorney General’s office and New York Department of Financial Services, and features discussion topics such as enforcement actions, consumer complaints regarding debt collection practices, and compliance issues within the industry.
Residents of Florida have had a rough couple of weeks on the phone. A report out of Jacksonville highlights a debt collection scam targeting residents across northern Florida. Callers pose as debt collectors trying to collect on overdue accounts that individuals are not responsible for. An additional twist on the scam features callers offering to protect consumers from credit fraud by charging the individual fees.
Same story, different location. We mentioned earlier the lawsuit against Hamilton Law Group for its pursuit of medical debts from family members of the individual responsible. Well, the story crosses state lines into Bangor, Maine. A couple here was harassed by Hamilton Law Group to pay overdue medical bills for their son. Adding insult to injury, the parents say the calls started after their son’s death.