Fake Debt Collection Agencies Use Lies About Debtors' Prison To Collect Big
Federal authorities say millions of phone calls yielded millions of dollars for a foreign company preying on American consumer's debt fears. NY1's Consumer Watch reporter Asa Aarons filed the following report.
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As if real debts are not enough, a company allegedly raked in $50 million, collecting money consumers did not even owe.
The Federal Trade Commission has charged a California-based company, American Credit Crunchers LLC, an affiliated company called Ebeeze, LLC, and the companies’ owner, Varang Thaker, with violating the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The agency says callers based in the United States and in India contacted millions of Americans demanding money and oftentimes they got it.
In many of the cases, these callers claimed to be from a bogus agency like the "Federal Bureau of Crime and Prevention" and would say a person's spouse was under arrest for failing to pay a loan, and that the spouse would not be released until the agency got its money.
The panicked victim would then authorize credit card charges over the phone of roughly a few hundred dollars. Only later did the victim realize that the spouse was fine all along and that there are no debtors' prisons in this country.
"They have collected at least $5 million from consumers that consumers simply didn't know. Fortunately, we took law enforcement action and they just recently granted an asset freeze and temporary restraining order against this company," says Deborah Marrone of the Federal Trade Commission.
Anyone who receives such a call should remember rights granted by the FTC's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
"If they refuse to give you any information about the debt, or to give you their own address, that's another red flag for consumers," says Marrone.
The next Consumer Watch report will cover how when people owe money they should pay it, but bill collectors do not have the right to insult or harass debtors.