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FTC announces nationwide crackdown on debt collectors

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Those mysterious debt collectors who call insisting you’ll be in legal peril if you don’t pay them big bucks are in hot water themselves, accused in a nationwide crackdown of harassing and threatening consumers, often about debts that don’t actually exist.

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday highlighted enforcement actions filed in recent months against two South Carolina-based debt collection firms accused of bilking people out of a combined $17.2 million, as well as settlements with three other firms accused of using pressure tactics and other shady practices.

Ironically, the firms that agreed to financial settlements were unable to pay the full amounts.


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While consumer complaints about debt collectors have dropped slightly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the commission’s consumer protection chief, Andrew Smith, anticipates that will change as collectors increasingly target people experiencing crisis-related financial hardship.

Of more than 85,000 debt collection complaints from consumers this year, the FTC said nearly half pertained to debts that didn’t exist or to abusive and threatening practices.

“Now would be about the time that this would start — that we would start to see consumer complaints associated with financial distress caused by the pandemic,” Smith said. “This might be debt collection complaints; it also might be complaints about various credit repair organizations or debt relief, mortgage relief and debt settlement.”

The commission, working with other federal agencies and authorities in 16 states, is also launching a campaign to give consumers tips on what to do when confronted with a debt collection call. It includes a tip sheet with potential red flags, such as a collector refusing to provide the name of his or her company, the amount of debt or the original creditor.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who joined a media conference call on the initiative, dubbed Operation Corrupt Collector, offered frank advice to older people who are often seen as easy marks for dubious dialers.


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“Senior citizens, as I always say, they’ve earned the right to hang up and to be rude,” James said. “Most seniors are not rude, but when it comes to individuals engaging in illegal conduct, they should hang up and report the collector to the FTC immediately.”

James’ office was involved in two of the three settlements featured in the crackdown. Both companies based in the Buffalo area were permanently banned from the debt collection industry under agreements reached in December and February.

One of the companies, Hylan Asset Management, was ordered to pay a $6.75 million judgment but had that slashed to just $676,575 because of an inability to pay. The owner of the other company, Campbell Capital LLC, had its $1.7 million judgment slashed to $30,000.

In the two pending cases in South Carolina, filed in July, authorities have obtained temporary restraining orders halting the companies’ operations, freezing their assets, and putting them under the control of a receiver.

National Landmark Logistics and Absolute Financial Services, both based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, are accused of using deceptive robocalls and trickery such as claiming to be from a mediation or law firm rather than a debt collector, threatening legal action and using a target’s personal information to make it seem as though the threats were real.

According to the FTC, National Landmark took in more than $12 million through the tactics, while Absolute Financial pocketed more than $5.2 million. In many cases, the commission alleges, National Landmark had no right to collect the debt it sought or there was no debt to collect in the first place.

A lawyer for National Landmark declined to comment. A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for Absolute Financial.

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A post-game apolitical commentary

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Well, that was something.

It’s time to let it go. Maybe we can all agree not to wear our made-in-China political merch 24/7 and turn the online virtue-signaling down a notch or two.

Let’s allow one bumper sticker per vehicle and the occasional meme if it’s genuinely funny, but if you’re going to roll up in a $50,000 pickup wrapped with glamour shots of your preferred dear leader and statements of your core beliefs, you’re going to get side-eyed in our brave new world. Because that’s a little nutty, dude.

For once, maybe we need a boring guy with very little flavor in the White House. Somebody who’s almost no one’s first choice, but we can all agree isn’t trying to leverage the office to increase his Twitter following.

We probably won’t return to where it’s almost rude to bring up politics in mixed company, but maybe we can let everything recede a bit. Let’s get back to where we were dog-cussin’ both parties and acknowledge that most of the time politics doesn’t impinge on the way we live our lives. And that there’s very little we can do about it anyway.

Sure, on a local level, you might be able to get something done. Maybe you can help elect a school board candidate or get a pothole filled. A vote is a vote, and despite what some people might try to tell you, they all count. But the chances of your particular vote affecting a national election are pretty negligible. (I’ve heard one in a billion, but that sounds high.)

There’s only so much we can do. And we should do what we can, but also recognize that we cannot change the world. And that worrying about what we can’t change is a waste of effort and probably a good way to make ourselves unhappy. Which is why it’s best to not think about politics most of the time.

Politics, when done right, is pretty boring to most people. The decisions made by those we elect make a difference, and it’s understandable why some people become deeply interested in the details of these transactions. Some enjoy the drama. They like to follow the personalities and root for the interests with which they have–often for reasons that have little to do with their own particular situations–aligned.

Some people identify as political junkies. Some people are hockey fans.

What’s distressing is the sheer number of Americans who have adopted politics as their favorite pastime. They dress in team colors and attend to the homer entertainment channels–MSNBC, Fox, OAN, CNN, Breitbart–that cater to their tastes. We ought to stop that and find something better to do than bask in the stupefying glow of the made-up 24-hour news cycle.

Because there isn’t enough news for a 24-hour cycle; about 23 and 3/4 hours of programming on any particular news channel is likely to be fake outrage or some failed comedian auditioning for his own cult by going on about evil rich or poor people in between ads for credit repair and uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins. It’s designed to keep you watching, to hold your attention so they can sell you to their advertisers.

But you knew that, because you’re an adult. Right?

You’re not like the people you see on Facebook pretending to be constitutional scholars and epidemiologists holding forth on platforms in the public interest. You know exactly what the limits of your expertise are and don’t offer up your advice for free.

You’re not one of those people still posting about face-swapping, clones and adrenochrome.

We need more sports and movies now, more music. In a good society, we should be able to ignore politics and simply attend to occasional civic rituals, which re-occur like necessary chores. We should be free to be apolitical. If you’re going to be obsessed by something, it ought to be deep and soulful, not the performative wolf-crying of men and women who mean to make a career of presenting themselves as leaders. Baseball is something more worthy of your investment.

No one should care as much about politics as a lot of us have these past four years. But let’s hope these years were extraordinary, as in not normal. And that while the trauma and damage they inflicted was very real–for a while there you could see the American id roaring and thrashing; you could see the beast inside–we are returning to a less dramatic, markedly calmer state.

We have managed to stuff a monster back in the closet. It’s not gone; all that rage will still find weak points and fault lines to exploit. We will still have school shootings and atrocities committed by the damaged and the prideful, but it’s probably going to be a while before the war on decency throws up another avatar as bald and raw as what we’ve just seen.

The next would-be dictator–and there will be another one–will be smoother and smarter and less reliant on simplistic slogans and obvious lies to stir the passions of the aggrieved.

The next one will present as rational and reasonable and data-driven.

That’s just evolution, which is science, which some of you don’t credit. That’s OK. Science, unlike magic, functions independently of faith. Someone is going to do the math and find a way to determine the best choice in any given situation.

The days of intuition and talent are numbered. Big data is going to reduce us all to tendencies and probabilities. As mysterious as we may seem to ourselves, given a big enough sample size, we are all parsable.

We should welcome our nerdy overlords. They will unlock the math, and it will become a question of making optimal decisions. They’ll bleed the art out of politics, just like they have poker and basketball.

I don’t know what to do about them, short of acknowledging that facts matter and that the end of history is still out there beyond the horizon. It’s not inevitable that the good guys win; looking back over the centuries, it’s not clear if the good guys even have a winning record. It’s been a pretty good rivalry.

We made it. Take a deep breath, but leave your mask on. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12.

pmartin@adgnewsroom.com

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www.blooddirtangels.com

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What You Need to Know About Credit Repair

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Credit Score Repair Services

Navigating today’s world is not an easy undertaking, especially when you happen to have a bad credit.  The vast majority of companies use your credit score to decide whether to do business with you. Some even use this information to set the pricing for products and services you use. That’s why you must strive to maintain a good credit score at all times.

But what if you already have a troubled credit history? When this is the case, you should make an effortto repair your credit.  In this post, we will take you through some of the things you need to know about credit repair. Keep on reading to find out more.

You Can Do It Yourself

While companies that offer repair bad credit fast services may be the most viable option for some people, there’s nothing they can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. Provided you understand what is expected, you will repair credit online from the comfort of your home. The secret lies in educating yourself on how credit works and what it takes to repair credit report online. Through this action, it will only be a matter of time before you repair your credit score.

Don’t Expect Overnight Results

Whereas you may have the best app to repair credit, you should not expect to see results overnight. Keep in mind it takes time to rebuild a bad credit history. Furthermore, your credit score may fluctuate during the repair process since the information in your credit report changes. To be on the safe side, it is highly advisable that you prioritize the general trend of your credit score over a period of time.

For those who are still finding it hard, then it’s in your best interest that you seek help from professionals. By professionals we are simply referring to companies that offer credit score repair services. Alternatively, you can make use of credit repair software for individuals. The decision you settle on is entirely based on your needs.

The Bottom Line

With professionals that offer credit report repair online services, it is important that you learn to be patient during the entire process. Remember, the duration it takes tends to vary from one person to another. The good news is that you will notice a significant change whenever something is deleted from your credit report.

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Lafayette business receives cease and desist order for lack of credit repair bond

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana complaint and subsequent investigation led to the Louisiana Office of the Attorney General issuing a “cease and desist” order to Lafayette-based Virtuous Business Consulting and owner Jessica Chaisson.

The business was ordered to immediately stop performing credit repair services at their 1003 Louisiana Ave. location. Virtuous Business Consulting currently has an F rating with BBB.

The AG order settles allegations the business performed credit repair services without the required $100,000 surety bond as required by state law under the Louisiana Credit Repair Services Organizations Act. Under terms of the order, the business was required to immediately stop performing credit repair services as well as provide the names and contact information for anyone who used their credit repair service. The order was for settlement purposes only and should not be considered as an admission of guilt.

According to BBB records, the company received a complaint from a consumer, alleging the company accepted an advance fee for credit repair then never performed the service. The business did not respond to the consumer complaint.

BBB sent correspondence to the business on Nov. 4, 2020, requesting a brief description of the products or services offered, copies of marketing materials provided to their customers, copies of any service agreements provided to customers and a copy of the required surety bond but BBB didn’t received a response.

“Hearing from consumer experiences help us keep the public informed with situations such as these,” said Jillian Dickerson, BBB Serving Acadiana President and CEO.

According to the U.S. Credit Repair Organizations Act, “No credit repair organization may charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration for the performance of any service which the credit repair organization has agreed to perform for any consumer before such service is fully performed.”

When looking for credit repair services or debt relief, consider the following:

  • Understand the difference between credit repair services and debt relief. Credit repair companies repair credit reports for a fee; debt relief are typically programs that offer loans to consolidate debt.
  • Carefully research companies on BBB.org before agreeing to any services and make sure the company can help resolve the situation.
  • Before signing any contract, read and understand the terms and conditions, especially if it involves a loan.

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