Friday, July 10, 2015

FTC and Florida Attorney General Sue to Stop Robocalls for “Free” Medical Alert Systems

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Attorney General are suing Lifewatch.  The New York-based company is charged with using illegal and deceptive robocalls to trick older consumers into purchasing medical alert systems.  The monthly monitoring fees ranged from $29.95 to $39.95.

Last year, Lifewatch’s telemarketing firm, Worldwide Info Services, had charges brought against it by the FTC and the State of Florida.  Lifewatch is alleged to be aware of, and responsible for, illegal activities in that case and to have continued the practices using other telemarketing firms.

The complaint alleges that Lifewatch violated the Do Not Call Registry by bombarding senior citizens with robocalls.  The calls typically had fake caller ID information in an attempt to further deceive the consumers.
Telemarketers would often tell the consumers that the $400 alert system had been purchased for them, so it was “free”.  Eventually, they would tell the consumers that their credit cards were needed for the monthly monitoring fee.

Lifewatch’s actions are alleged to violate the FTC Act, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

For more information, go to:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Complaint Database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now has a consumer complaint database online.  The database contains over 7,700 consumer accounts of problems that include mortgages, bank accounts, credit cards, debt collection, private student loans, pay day loans, and more.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in an effort to handle consumer complaints.  It began in 2011, and as of June 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled more than 627,000 complaints, with mortgages and debt collection at the top of the list.

The database will allow users to explore information and become aware of specific problems and company practices.   Users can sort complaints by state and zip code.  The identity of the consumer and any personal information has been removed from the online database.  However, consumers have the option of adding a narrative to provide a firsthand account of their experience.  The narratives will help consumers to make a more informed decision when dealing with a particular company or circumstance.




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Debt Collectors Sued for Threatening and Harassing People

Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, filed a lawsuit against several debt collectors.  The debt collectors are accused of threatening and harassing people.  The lawsuit states that many of the people did not even owe the debts.

Mohan Bagga of Duluth, GA, Marcus Brown of Buffalo, NY, and Universal Debt & Payment Solutions LLC are named in the lawsuit.  The defendants allegedly ran three illegitimate debt collection businesses- LRS Litigations, IRS Equity, and Worldwide Requisitions.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 130 complaints against these three companies.  The debt collectors are accused of threatening people with criminal prosecution if they didn’t pay their debts, harassing the consumers, using profane language, and trying to collect debts that were not owed, all in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Dodd-Frank Act.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Action Against Debt Collection Law Firm

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against a debt collection law firm, Frederick J. Hanna & Associates (Frederick Hanna).  The suit alleges that the debt collection firm spent less than a minute reviewing each of the credit card collection cases.  More than 350,000 cases were filed by the law firm, and many of the individuals targeted owed nothing or less than the amounts claimed.  Individuals targeted in similar suits as those filed by Frederick Hanna, often do not appear for the court cases.  As a result, many cases end in a default judgment, which can be difficult to correct, allowing the debt collector to garnish wages or put a lien on property.
The lawsuit filed by CFPB indicates that CFPB may be looking into other debt collection law firms, where claims are out of date, have incorrect amounts, and do not include the necessary documentation to back up the claims.