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Regulators Crack Down on Aggressive, Dubious Debt Collectors | New York News

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By MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

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.

“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 LLC and Absolute Financial Services, LLC, 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 Logistics LLC took in more than $12 million through the tactics, while Absolute Financial Services LLC pocketed more than $5.2 million. In many cases, the commission alleges, National Landmark Logistics 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 Logistics LLC declined comment. A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for Absolute Financial Services LLC.

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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California’s vague new financial regulation law – Orange County Register

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Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

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Erie Homecoming 2020 to take place virtually

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Erie Homecoming 2020: “Erie’s Economic Evolution” is happening this week.

Erie Homecoming is an event that shares the vision of where we are going as a business community and the specific projects that will be taking us there.

Yoselin Person was live outside of the Erie Regional Chamber to tell us more about what’s taking place at this year’s homecoming.

Get your favorite hot drink because Erie Homecoming is happening virtually. 

Rooms full of people just aren’t happening in the midst of a pandemic, so Erie Homecoming is an event that will inspire you from comfort of your home or office.

The purpose of homecoming is to give attendees the opportunity to learn how they can invest in the Erie community.

During this two day event, you will be able to learn how you can invest the time, talent and treasure in creating a more diverse and prosperous Erie community.

Erie’s Black Wall Street will be featured this year. It’s a nonprofit organization that’s known for improving black business.

“So, having it geared towards helping black businesses expand and spread their wings, I think that’s amazing,” said Alexandria Ellis, owner, She Vintage.

Ellis began her business six months ago. She says Erie Black Wall Street is a safe space where black entrepreneurs can connect and collaborate with others.

The organization also helps others with credit repair.

“They’ve helped me by connecting me with resources if someone is looking for a nail tech or a boutique that’s black owned, they have connected customers of their clients to me through their organization,” said Ellis.

Speakers from the black owned organization will speak about creating regional equity.

There will also be a discussion about Flagship Opportunity Zones and what it means in terms of tax and other investment incentives.

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RiverBend Growth Association announces new members | Business

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RiverBend Growth Association encourages use of face coverings

The RiverBend Growth Association announces its new members:

5 Diamond Campground

Brian Campbell and Matt Diamond

2 Fun Lane

Hartford IL 62048

(618) 254-1180

facebook.com/5-Diamond-Campground-103976501423687

Alton Pride Inc.

Jason Heeren, director of sponsorship

P.O. Box 662

Alton IL 62002

(618) 204-7420

https://altonpride.com

Alton Pride is a charitable and educational organization established to bring awareness, understanding, and advocacy to the LGBTQ+ community with an emphasis on the specific needs of the youth within the community. We are setting ourselves apart from other Pride organizations by focusing on giving back to our community, rather than hosting just a parade or festival. We will be depositing a majority of event proceeds into a structured account funding our goal to develop a local teen suicide prevention line and a teen resource center to help youth in need.

 

Imo’s Pizza – Bethalto

Lori Bromberg, president/treasurer and managing partner

515 N. Bellwood

Bethalto IL 62010

(618) 258-0011

www.imospizza.com

Bethalto Imo’s is owned by Charles and Barbara (Babs) Pelan. Barbara was a nurse and Charles has had a varied career but has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He and Babs purchased the Bethalto Imo’s in 2013 and seeing the success of the brand and the store in Bethalto were anxious to purchase the Edwardsville Imo’s franchise in 2014.

Their daughter, Lori Bromberg, is the managing partner and provides leadership and daily oversight to the business. Lori has a bachelor of science degree in management and has 31-plus years in corporate leadership roles, including customer experience, supply chain, distribution strategy, change management, hr/talent management, training and safety. Lori also is a certified mentor for SCORE providing mentoring and coaching to small businesses.

While it is our goal to have a financially successful business, we believe the cornerstones to achieving success is ensuring a superior product and customer experience, investment in our employees, positive contributions to our community, while demonstrating a strong commitment to safety. We pride ourselves on our commitment to Imo’s corporate mission, “To maintain the Imo’s tradition of uncompromising quality, pride in Imo’s products, and passion for success and for customers to experience a genuine, original St. Louis pizza of the highest quality, served in a pleasant atmosphere or at home, so that they too will have reason to say: “Imo’s is my favorite pizza.”

If you frequent our Bethalto location, we will be moving down the street a little over a mile, still on 111, within the next month or so.  We will continue to have delivery and pick-up as well as offer new patio seating.

 

Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation Inc.

Mark Kratschmer, president

5800 Godfrey Road, ER 0210

Godfrey IL 62035

(618) 468-2010

www.lc.edu/About_the_Foundation/

The Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Illinois. The foundation supports Lewis and Clark Community College and its students through scholarships, awards, and other assistance.

Piasa Body Art

Cody Hinkle, owner

560 E. Broadway

Alton IL 62002

(618) 462-1720

Alton’s best body art shop, offering tattoos and piercing services. Now with The Salon for all your hair care and barbering needs!

Prosper Credit Consultants

Jerheart Huntley, owner

525 Wyss Ave.

Alton IL 62002

(877) 503-7465

prospercreditconsultants.com

Credit repair that works! Prosper Credit Consultants uses the most innovative processes to make sure our clients are educated on how credit repair works! Prosper Credit Consultants is dedicated to educating our clients on how to get and keep good credit! We have become a one-stop shop for all things from credit repair, building credit for beginners, trade lines, putting our clients in position to purchase that new car, and home they want. Give us a call (877) 503-7465 or set up a free credit consultation.

The RiverBend Growth Association is the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for the 12 communities known as the Riverbend.  For more information about the Growth Association, visit www.growthassociation.com or call (618) 467-2280.

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