FTC, New York settle with debt collection schemer
On February 25, the FTC and the New York attorney general announced a settlement with an individual defendant who controlled a New York-based debt collection operation for allegedly violating the FTC Act, the FDCPA, and New York state law by using false or deceptive tactics to collect money from consumers. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FTC and the New York AG filed a complaint against the operation in 2018, alleging that operation employees threatened consumers with arrest or lawsuits and sometimes falsely posed as law enforcement officials or attorneys. In addition, the FTC and New York AG claimed employees allegedly increased pressure on consumers by telling them they owed more than indicated in the operation’s records, using forms that showed both the actual balance owed by the consumer as well as a higher balance the collectors claimed the consumers owed—a practice known as “overbiffing.” Under the terms of the settlement, the defendant—who neither admitted nor denied the allegations—is permanently banned from participating in debt collection activities and “is prohibited from misleading consumers about any financial-related products” or services. The settlement also imposed a $1.7 million judgment, of which all but $30,000 is suspended due to the defendant’s inability to pay.