The Federal Trade Commission today announced a series of updates and settlements in a number of cases involving companies allegedly engaging in illegal debt collection activities. The cases are all part of Operation Collection Protection, an FTC-led initiative that is working with federal and state regulators and law enforcement agencies to crack down on companies that are trying to swindle consumers.
A $2.3 million judgment against a series of defendants who allegedly impersonated law enforcement officials, threatened to have consumers arrested, sued, or their wages garnisheed for not making payments, and did not inform consumers they could ask for confirmation or dispute debts, has been partially suspended because the defendants are unable to pay the amount. They have agreed to forfeit assets, including real estate, and are banned from the debt collection industry. The FTC originally filed the complaint against Premier Debt Acquisitions LLC, which also did business as PDA Group LLC; Prizm Debt Solutions LLC, PDS LLC; Samuel Sole and Associates LLC, SSA Group LLC, and Imperial Processing Solutions last May, but a permanent injunction was recently reached.
Separately, defendants operating National Payment Processing, National Client Services, AFS Legal Services, AFS Services, Account Financial Services, and Account Financial Solutions, have agreed to a preliminary injunction barring them from using illegal collection tactics and any behavior or actions that violate the FDCPA.
A complaint was filed against the defendants last November alleging that the defendants impersonated law enforcement officials and demanded payments, even when consumers disputed the debt. The defendants are also accused of making harassing calls to relatives, friends, and co-workers, allegedly causing $4 million in damages.
In a separate action, the FTC has issued a proposed order for a permanent injunction against a company called Municipal Recovery Services Corp., which did business as Warrant Enforcement Division, and other named defendants. The injunction bars the defendants from misrepresenting facts, specifically mentioning that failure to pay a debt will result in imprisonment, having a vehicle impounded or a driver’s license suspended. The order also imposes a penalty of $195,000, which is suspended because of an inability to pay.
Finally, the FTC has obtained a permanent injunction against Williams, Scott & Associates and ordered them to pay $565,000 for trying to deceive customers into making payments on phantom payday and other loans. An earlier order banned several participants from the collections industry and ordered them to pay nearly $4 million.