Debt Collection Agency To Pay $2.25 Million

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The Michigan Collection Law Blog has posted an article relating to another blog post from Workathometruth.com about the Federal Trade Commission slapping Academy Collection Service, Inc. with the largest penalty fine ever in a debt collection case. Keith Dickstein, owner of the company, has agreed to pay the fine of $2.25 million.

Over 1,000 complaints have been filed against Academy Collection Service for various forms of creditor harassment, such as:

Academy’s collectors allegedly engaged in false or deceptive threats of garnishment, arrest, and legal action; communication with third parties about consumers’ debts; and calls to consumers at their workplace when the employer prohibits such calls. Other practices included frequent, harassing, threatening, and abusive calls; unfair and unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ bank accounts; and early deposit of postdated checks consumers submitted for debt payment.

Not only does Academy have to pay a fine, but they are now prohibited from misrepresenting themselves to customers as attorneys instead of just debt collectors, and also from:

…misrepresenting to consumers that nonpayment of a debt will result in the garnishment of wages, seizure or attachment of property, or lawsuits…and are also prohibited from improperly communicating with third parties about a debt; using false, deceptive, or misleading representations in debt collection efforts; communicating with a consumer at any unusual time or place, including the workplace; or harassing, oppressing, or abusing any person in connection with debt collection. The settling defendants are also barred from making any withdrawals from consumers’ bank accounts without obtaining the consumers’ express informed consent, and they cannot deposit or threaten to deposit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument prior to the date on the check or instrument.

Gary Nitzkin, of the Michigan Collection Law Blog, has a few suggestions on how to avoid having a debt collection complaint filed against your company. He says that the collectors should be extensively trained and their training should be documented, should proof ever be needed. He advises that phone conversations should also be monitored and documented. Also, a temperament test isn’t a bad idea. Lastly, he says to remember that the debtors are actual human beings and should be treated with “respect and dignity.”

If you have had problems with abusive debt collectors, feel free to contact us.
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