On August 19, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General filed a summary judgment motion against Buffalo, New York area debt collectors who allegedly harassed and threatened consumers into paying millions on debts allegedly owed by the consumers.
The FTC and New York State Attorney General filed a joint Complaint in the Western District of New York against Vantage Point Services, LLC, Payment Management Solutions Inc, Bonafide Payment Solutions Inc., Gregory Mackinnon, Angela Burdorf, and Joseph Ciffa for threatening consumers into paying debts. The Complaint alleged that the defendants violated the FTC Act, FDCPA, and numerous New York consumer protection laws, citing numerous consumer lawsuits, testimony from former employees, and several telephone transcripts.
According to the Complaint, the defendants’ employees would call consumers, telling them that the defendants were working on behalf of law firms, district attorney’s offices, or other state and federal financial crimes divisions. The defendants would then inform consumers that they could be arrested if they did not pay their delinquent debts. When direct threats would unfruitful, the defendants would contact the consumer’s employer or other third parties to pressure consumers into paying their debts.
In addition to using coercive techniques to get consumers to pay their debts, the defendants failed to “provide consumers with basic information” as required by the FDCPA. Defendants failed to provide consumers with the defendants’ business name and failed to state during telephone conversations that the information furnished by the consumer during the conversation would be used to collect a debt. The defendants also failed to provide consumers with statutorily required written notices—containing the amount of debt owed; the name of the original creditor; and a proper validation notice.
The $22.5 million in damages sought by the FTC and New York State Attorney General seeks to disgorge the defendants of all money received from consumers as a result of the defendants’ consumer protection violations.
The Western District of New York has not ruled on the FTC’s summary judgment motion.
The case is FTC v. Vantage Point Services, LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-00006.