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CFPB, FTC, State, and Federal Law Enforcement Partners Announce Nationwide Crackdown on Phantom and Abusive Debt Collection

‘Operation Corrupt Collector’ targets debt collectors trying to collect on non-existent debts, using illegal scare tactics

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), along with the Federal Trade Commission and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners, today announced a nationwide law enforcement and outreach initiative to protect consumers from phantom debt collection and abusive and threatening debt collection practices.

The initiative, called Operation Corrupt Collector, includes enforcement actions brought by the FTC, three federal partners, and partners from 16 different states against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices.

“The CFPB is actively working to protect consumers from illegal actions of debt collectors,” said CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger. “We will continue to monitor the financial marketplace, as well as consumer complaints received, in order to ensure that we identify and take action against debt collectors who are violating the law. Lastly, consumers should know that the Bureau’s consumer complaint system is a resource for them to submit any complaints they may have on their experiences with financial services providers.”

The operation includes five cases filed by the FTC, two cases filed by the CFPB and three criminal cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. States reporting actions as part of the operation include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington.

As noted above, the CFPB filed two cases as part of the operation. Earlier this month, the CFPB in partnership with the New York Attorney General filed suit against five companies for their participation in a debt collection operation using illegal methods. The company defendants are JPL Recovery Solutions, LLC; Regency One Capital LLC; ROC Asset Solutions LLC, which does business as API Recovery Solutions; Check Security Associates LLC, which does business as Warner Location Services and Orchard Payment Processing Systems; and Keystone Recovery Group. Additionally, in 2019, the CFPB along with the New York Attorney General announced a $60 million judgement against Northern Resolution Group, LLC; Douglas Mackinnon, Enhanced Acquisitions, Delray Capital, LLC; and Mark Gray. The Bureau alleged that defendants purchased millions of dollars’ worth of consumer debt, inflated those consumer debts and relied on illegal tactics in violation of Fair Debt Collection Protection Act. The stipulated final judgment imposed a permanent industry ban on the defendants.

In addition to law enforcement actions, state and local consumer protection agencies are joining the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize.

The CFPB tools to help consumers with understanding their rights can be found here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/debt-collection/

A video on how consumers can protect themselves from fraudulent collectors can be found here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/how-tell-difference-between-legitimate-debt-collector-and-scammers. Consumers can use the CFPB complaint system to file a complaint on a financial product or service at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.