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- Notify your banking institutions
- Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file
- Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger
- File a complaint at www.IC3.gov
- Never give your Social Security number—or personal information of any kind—over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact
- Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. The e-mail may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get you to react immediately
- Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information
- Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied
- Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers
- When you contact companies, use numbers provided on the back of cards or statements
Attorney General Lori Swanson of Minnesota has alleged in a new suit that Midland Funding LLC created false, unreliable affidavits as proof of consumer debt.
The Minnesota Attorney General went to court seeking an injunction against the large Midland Funding debt collection agency that would put an end to the company’s practice of “robo-signing” court affidavits which, she alleges, has resulted in false and deceptive lawsuits being filed against consumers across the nation.
Midland Funding LLC, is a San Diego based company that purchases aged consumer debt from credit card and other credit issuers. The company has acknowledged that its employees in St. Cloud, Minnesota, have wrongly signed affidavits falsely stating they had proof of a consumer’s debts. These affidavits were then used by Midland as a basis for filing collections lawsuits against people who had already cleared their debt and others whose names were similar to the actual debtors.
You can read more on this at the Minnesota Star Tribune in a comprehensive article by David Schaffer.
A federal judge in Florida recently issued an order prohibiting a debt collection company from contacting a woman through her social media accounts in an attempt to collect on debt, specifically naming Facebook, as it appeared that Mark One Financial LLC of Jacksonville, Fla., had been contacting the plaintiff’s friends and family.
Judge Baird ordered Mark One Financial to refrain from contacting the woman’s family or friends. The order is part of a lawsuit that Melanie Beacham filed last August against the debt collection agency who were attempting to collect on a $326 auto debt.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Bill Howard said that he had been approached by almost a dozen additional potential clients because debt collectors have taken to tracking down and harassing debtors through their social media accounts. Mr. Howard called it “…the beginning of an epidemic”.
Florida has consumer protection laws that include the prohibition of activity that would be considered harassment. For additional information please go to The Washington Post article here.
The Oregon Department of Justice has received several complaints regarding phony debt collection calls.
http://www.cccsso.org/News.asp?NewsID=4. Scam artists pose as debt collectors or law enforcement officers calling about an outstanding debt from an online payday loan. They frequently use fake phone numbers and official sounding business names. They also do their research. Some Oregonians have been tricked into paying nonexistent debt because the scam artist knew personal information about them, including their Social Security number, home address, e-mail, and names of family and personal references.
Attorneys in various states (even consumer advocates) have also recently reported that fake collection calls have been made in their names, without their knowledge or permission. This is identity theft. If you get collection calls from anyone claiming to a be a California attorney, best to check under the “attorney Search” section with the state bar http://www.calbar.ca.gov/ and confirm not only that the attorney’s name is registered but that the phone number and address matches with the address listed on the bar web site.
FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
The Internet Crime Complaint Center has received many complaints from victims of payday loan telephone collection scams. Callers claim the victim is delinquent in a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The callers purport to be representatives of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, various law firms, or other legitimate-sounding agencies. They claim to be collecting debts for companies such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net, and other Internet check-cashing services.
According to complaints received from the public, the callers have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the fraudsters obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.
The fraudsters relentlessly call the victim’s home, cell phone, and place of employment. They refuse to provide any details about the alleged payday loans and become abusive when questioned. The callers have threatened victims with legal actions, arrests, and, in some cases, physical violence if they do not pay. In many cases, the callers harass victims’ relatives, friends, and employers.
Some fraudsters have instructed victims to fax a statement agreeing to pay a certain amount, on a specific date, via a pre-paid Visa card. The statement further declares the victim will never dispute the debt.
If you receive these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Rather, you should:
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
National Consumer Law Center Advocate Applauds New Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal rule issued today that strengthens protections for bank accounts used to collect federal benefits is welcome news for retirees, veterans and disabled persons, according to a lawyer for the National Consumer Law Center.
The “interim final” rule, which will take effect on May 1 but is still open for public comment, will limit creditors’ ability to freeze and take funds from accounts that contain Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), VA and other federal benefits. These benefits, which are legally protected from court-issued garnishment orders, are critical to the survival of many recipients.
“We applaud the work of the Treasury Department and the other agencies to safeguard these essential benefits, and the leadership of Sen. Max Baucus on this issue,” said Margot Saunders, an attorney with the Center. “All too often, elders, veterans, and disability benefit recipients who rely on these benefits for their basic needs have been unable to access them for extended periods because of creditor-imposed garnishment freezes.”
Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), VA, and similar federal benefits are intended to meet beneficiaries’ daily needs. Federal law makes these funds immune from seizure by creditors.
But in practice, creditors frequently obtain court garnishment orders so that banks then freeze bank accounts containing protected funds. A beneficiary may be unable to access urgently needed funds for weeks or months. Often, the paperwork and procedures needed to end an illegal freeze prove too daunting for a recipient, so that a bank turns over supposedly
“untouchable” funds to a creditor.
The new rule prohibits the practice of denying beneficiaries access to these essential funds in bank accounts. It requires all banks to determine whether an account contains protected funds. If an account contains protected funds, the bank is required to protect two months of benefit payments from garnishment. Protection of more than two months of benefit payments requires additional court filings by the beneficiary.
In announcing the rule, the agencies stated that its framework could be expanded in future years to protect other federal payments such as military retirement.
“There are still many other steps that need to be taken to make bank accounts safe,” Saunders said. “But this new rule will give peace of mind to many elders, veterans, and disability benefit recipients.”
Comments on the new rule may be filed by May 24, 2011, by going to www.regulations.gov and entering “3206-AM17” in the keyword field.
Many debt buyers do not have the evidence to prove their claims in court if they are challenged. Consumers are frequently being sued for inflated amounts or for debts they do not owe and should consider hiring a lawyer to defend themselves from unscrupulous collectors.
This recent article in the New York Times about the problems of huge numbers of debt lawsuits being filed in courthouses all over the country. The collection companies buy the debts for mere pennies on the dollar but often really have nothing but electronic data and no live witnesses to prove their claims. The debt collectors hope to make money on those cases where people are frightened by the often intimidating collector, or give up and do not even question the debt. Many times the claims being filed are for monthly late charges and over limit fees and inflated interest charges charged on top of the late and over limit fees themselves.
As a consumer advocate and attorney I have extensive experience in successfully defending consumers against debt lawsuits filed in Southern California courts. If you need legal assistance I can be contacted at 661-771-2281.
Attorney at Law
This article in the New York Times provides an interesting look at what is happening in the debt collection industry during these tough economic times. Some consumer groups are claiming that the courts, and Judges, have become little more than extensions of the debt collection industry.
But, judges appear to be growing far more skeptical of the many claims made by debt collectors.
There is an interesting article here:
on what can best be described as a bad way to try and collect debt. So bad, in fact, that it cost the collection agency $1.5 million dollars .
Car dealers are working hard right now putting out a false spin, claiming they do not even engage in lending, falsely asserting they just “facilitate” loans for car purchases.
Yeah, and in the process, dealers “facilitate” low and moderate income people out of billions in extra finance charges! The truth is that dealers make a huge percentage of their profits secretly from kickbacks on markups in vehicle financing. No wonder dealer advertising lures the public with promises of “easy financing”.
Many crooked dealers actually falsify a buyer’s credit– frequently without the buyer’s knowledge or consent. This was exactly the same problem that occurred with the mortgage meltdown.
Act Quckly and File an Answer to Set As Aside a Surprising Default Judgment
You can be sued whether or not you owe someone money. Worse yet, you can have a default judgment against you whether or not you have received notice. These types of default judgments happen all the time and you need to act quickly. Whether someone is trying to sue you or that a judgment has been taken against you, a quick response is necessary.
As a general rule the law will NOT protect people that “sleep” on their rights. If you do not fight a wrongful judgment or suit promptly – when you do find out about the judgment or suit – you may be considered legally bound to a debt that you never owned in the first place, or worse yet, a lawsuit of which you were totally unaware.
It is your responsibility to be vigilant. Consumer lawyers are noticing that there are a number of crooked process servers and unscrupulous bill collectors. Together with their overly aggressive lawyers, these unscrupulous bill collectors and unconscionable process servers are out there looking for easy cash and they may be trying to get it from you!
Just because you did not incur any debt does not mean that some has not been raised on your behalf. Albeit illegal, someone may have stolen your identity or your name and incurred debt on your behalf. Without appropriate action, you could end up being held responsible for someone else’s debt if you do not fight it.
Even if you do owe some money to a creditor, the interest rate and charges could have ballooned unconscionably. There are a number of valid legal defenses which may be available to you if you contest the claim.
Do not just sleep on your rights !
Many debt buyers do not have the necessary paperwork to prove their claim in court. As an experienced consumer advocate with more than 30 years experience defending people with debt problems I can help you defend yourself in court. Often, I can get the case dismissed without the necessity of ever going to court as a fee rate you can afford.
The debt buyer business is ugly and thriving in these tough economic times. Read this interesting article in the New York Times.