Approximately $4 million worth of checks have been placed in the mail to partly compensate thousands of consumers who were scammed by a group of seedy Southern California debt collectors. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that the checks were sent out to conclude a settlement which was reached last year between the commission and the Asset and Capital Management Group.
The debt collection firm had bought the consumers’ debt from creditors for pennies on the dollar and then falsely threatened the debtors with arrest, wage garnishment, seizure of their property and lawsuits. The firm also disclosed private debt information to the victims’ employers, colleagues and family members, according to the FTC. As shocking as this case is, consumers must remember that they have rights when it comes to debt collection and should not hesitate to contact authorities if a collector violates these rights.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you are protected from these predatory debt collection practices. Federal law sets parameters for when and how a debt collector may contact you. The following is a list of protections the FDCPA provides to you:
- Debt collectors may not call you outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., unless you specify that they are allowed to do so;
- Creditors must always fully disclose their identity and never pretend to be someone they are not;
- Debt collectors cannot inform anyone else regarding your debts;
- Creditors are not allowed to threaten or harass you in any form.
“Consumers shouldn’t be subjected to threats and intimidation,” said Jessica Rich, director of The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. She was also pleased that the victims of the scam will receive money back from the defendants.
Defendants Thai Han, Jim Tran Phelps, Keith Hua and James Novella who operated over a dozen debt collection agencies and shell corporations, had their personal assets seized in order to compensate victims. The defendants have also been permanently banned from the debt-collection business. Officials reported that up to 95,000 people fell victim to the scam.
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.