On Mar. 5, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had brought or resolved nine cases against debt collection agencies and companies in 2013. The press release included a statement from Jessica Rich, Director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When it comes to debt collection, the FTC has many tools in its arsenal, including research, enforcement, and consumer education. But in the years since the financial crisis hit, we have increased our emphasis on law enforcement.”
In 2013, the FTC obtained court orders stopping illegal debt collection activities in seven cases, and referred two other debt collection cases to the Department of Justice for civil penalties. In several of the cases, the FTC obtained temporary restraining orders halting the unlawful conduct, freezing the defendants’ assets, and appointing receivers to take over operations while court proceedings progressed (Asset & Capital Management Group and Goldman Schwartz Inc.). The Commission also brought its first enforcement action regarding text message debt collection (National Attorney Collection Services, Inc.), continued to pursue “phantom” debt collectors (Pinnacle Payment Services, LLC and Pro Credit Group, LLC), and placed the largest third-party debt collector under an order that includes the agency’s highest debt collection civil penalty (Expert Global Solutions). For the most egregious violators, the FTC obtained orders banning the responsible parties from ever participating in debt collection again (Forensic Case Management Services, Inc. and Goldman Schwartz Inc.).
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. If you have been contacted by one of these debt collectors and believe they have engaged in deceptive or fraudulent practices, consider filing a complaint in English or Spanish via the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).