My last article was on the crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies on 30 debt collectors who used illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls.
The FTC and New York attorney general announced Friday that another debt collector, the National Check Registry, has agreed to settle charges that it used abusive and deceptive tactics to pressure people into making payments on questionable debts.
Calling from their boiler rooms in Buffalo, N.Y., the National Check Registry employed a “pay up or else” collection strategy in which they claimed that people had committed check fraud or another crime, the FTC said.
The callers also threatened people would be sued, have their wages garnished, and be arrested unless they made a payment. National Check Registry also failed to provide people with required notices and charged illegal processing fees.
The FTC’s settlement bans the defendants – Joseph C. Bella, III, Diane Bella, Luis A. Shaw, and nine companies they controlled, including National Check Registry – from working in debt collection. In addition, the defendants are to pay $8.3 million, which will be suspended after they turn over their assets.
Since Jan. 1, 2010, the FTC has banned more than 75 debt collectors from the industry. The case against National Check Registry is one of three joint debt collection law enforcement actions that the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office have brought since 2013.