Look Out Consumers: Debt Collections Get Scarier
As if we don't have enough on our collective plates worrying about our legitimate debts, it is now coming to light that more scam artists are trying to collect on debts you may not even have. Just this week in the state of New York, an ex-con and his cronies were busted and a nationwide debt collection company was shut down. Based in Buffalo, NY, the “debt collection agency” operated using several different company names, including Central Resource Man, Interchange Payment Solutions, Next Step Services, Silverbay Services, Teleport, Final Claims Asset Locators and Final Control Asset Locators.
The apparent ring leader was Tobias Boyland, a convicted felon who, along with three other individuals ran debt collection practices in at least four different locations in Western New York. The complaints that were filed against them with the District Attorney's office alleged that Boyland and his team would contact individuals about debt collections, often using threats of being arrested to frighten people into paying back debts. The team also intimidated consumers by lying to them about the status of their debts that have have gone to court. Some involved in the ring even posed as law enforcement officers to add to the intimidation. In many cases, the amount of the debt was inflated or had already passed the statue of limitation, Consumers were scared, believing they were being sued or face legitimate incarceration, they started paying up. While this ploy is scary on its own, many of the collection calls the companies were making were about debts that didn't even exist!
Due to the scare tactics, many consumer volunteered their checking account information, sent money via Western Union, or mailed out money orders. All of the monies were directed to be sent outside of the Buffalo area, to further mislead authorities and consumers alike. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits any debt collection company to pose as an attorney or a member of law enforcement, threaten a lawsuit, accuse debt holders of a crime, or threaten arrest. The fraudsters violated many aspects of this federal law and were arrested. At the time of arrest, Boyland was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his office has been pursuing deceptive debt collection practitioners and has successfully shut down several operations and will continue to do so.
We as consumers now have an additional concern to worry about concerning debt. While many people are getting much better about handling their debts and avoiding it altogether, there are still many families struggling to get back on track. Knowing the debts they do owe can lead them to be victims of fraudulent practices, makes the burden and humiliation of debt even bigger. When you are dealing with debt collectors and making an honest attempt to clean up your credit, make sure you know your rights. Review the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Get smart about your personal finances and your debts. Make notes on the dates and times you are contacted by a collection agency. Be certain you actually owe the debt before you take any action. If you feel that something is amiss with the way your debt is being handled, speak up! Contact your local authorities. While it can be very scary to deal with thug-like callers demanding money, don't make additional financial mistakes by sending money to just anyone. Know your rights and take a stand when it comes to people messing with your money, your credit score, and your sanity.