As we discussed last year, the Federal Trade Commission announced in May 2014 that it settled charges against Asset Capital and Management Group for illegally extracting payments from consumers for credit card debt that it had purchased from creditors.
In addition to banning the defendants – which includes individuals behind the scheme, a network of intertwined companies, and dozens of fictitious names – from the debt collection industry, the settlement required the defendants to turn over their personal assets and to give up any claim to the business assets. The proceeds from these assets, including frozen corporate funds held by the receiver, total more than $4 million.
Now, the FTC is sending nearly 95,000 checks totaling approximately $4 million to consumers who were victimized by an array of deceptive and abusive tactics in violation of both the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The FTC charged that the defendants posed as process servers in calls to consumers and third parties; falsely threatened consumers with lawsuits, wage garnishment, seizure of their property, and arrest; and disclosed debts to consumers’ employers, colleagues, and family members. The FTC also alleged that the defendants violated the FDCPA by failing to tell consumers they were attempting to collect a debt, failing to notify consumers of their right to dispute the debt, and failing to obtain verification of their debt.
This case was brought by the FTC with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Service, and exemplifies cross-agency cooperation to protect consumers from illegal debt collection activities.