On January 7, the FTC announced four separate actions under its Operation Collection Protection initiative against collectors allegedly engaging in abusive and deceptive debt collection practices. It also announced that other federal and state law enforcement officials have taken 12 more actions as part of the initiative. The FTC’s actions targeted the following practices: (i) impersonating investigators, law enforcement agencies, or process servers; (ii) threatening consumers with arrest, lawsuits, or wage garnishment for nonpayment; (iii) failing to inform consumers of the amount of debt and the creditor’s name, as well as their right to dispute the alleged debt, as required by the FDCPA; and (iv) collecting on debts that consumers did not owe. The four actions, each with a separate set of defendants, include the following:
- A preliminary injunction prohibiting the use of illegal collection tactics, pending litigation;
- A stipulated order for permanent injunction banning debt collection activities and imposing a judgment of over $2 million;
- A proposed stipulated order for permanent injunction prohibiting misrepresentation of material facts while collecting debts and imposing a judgment of $194,888, which is suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay; and
- A summary judgment granting a permanent injunction against an individual defendant, banning him from debt collection activities and ordering him to pay more than $565,000.
This brings the Operation Collection Protection initiative to a total of 130 actions with more than 70 law enforcement agencies participating in the last year.