The government is stepping up as debt collection scams rise. In recent news, Buffalo New York has been home to a number of unlawful debt collection practices, and authorities have arrested at least twelve people. Although the vast majority of collection agencies are legitimate and good for the economy, there have been a rising count of deceptive and illegal practices. Some debt collectors have been caught calling  debtors and saying that they are law enforcement. They have threatened to send debtors to prison, or even take child custody away from them.

A recent civil case imposed a $675,000 penalty on a debt collection business, for illegal and deceptive practices. This includes harassing and lying to consumers, cashing in on post dated checks early, and disclosing their debt to third parties. These tactics came by deceptive claims from agents saying they were lawyers or other figures of authority.

Refusing to let consumers know the address or phone number of the “business”,  these bill collectors even went as far as to contact individuals who did not owe any money at all and attempted to collect from them. Despite claims that it was individual workers acting fraudulently, the Federal Trade Commission went after the business owners and won a case that imposed the biggest penalty ever for debt collection agencies.

To skirt the issue of being a victim to fraudulent collection agencies, it is imperative that you know your rights.  A collection company cannot have you thrown in jail, seize certain assets, or garnish wages in most instances.  They can’t get you fired from your occupation, and cannot make any kind of public disclosures concerning the debt. If you are a victim of these unethical practices, contact a licensed attorney to discuss the rights and privileges afforded to you under the law.

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