I’ve discussed fraudulent, abusive and illegal debt collection tactics before, but this one takes the cake. Three men posing as lawyers threatened a multitude of people into paying ‘phantom debts’ (debts that they did not actually owe). The men acted as ‘Alliance Law Group,’ and successfully collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting people.
The Federal Trade Commission ruled this week that the three will no longer be allowed to operate within the debt collection industry. In addition, the defendants have been ordered to surrender valuable assets. How does something like this happen? It’s a simple tactic that works, unfortunately, if you are unaware of your rights.
Most people become very intimidated when contacted by a lawyer - so intimidated that they do not question a person’s actual credentials. Knowing this, the criminals mentioned above-threatened people with jail time, home visits, and other scare tactics in order to obtain thousands of dollars in false debt.
If you get a call like this, here’s what you can (and should!) do:
- Ask for the person’s full name and bar license number and the state they are licensed to practice law in. Each state has a directory of licensed attorneys or a phone number where you can verify their information.
- Know whether or not you actually owe a debt. If you don’t owe a debt, Demand verification of the alleged debt.
- Contact the company or person the debt is allegedly attached to and inquire.
- File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Bar if you have no debt.
- Do not - under any circumstances - give credit card information over the phone.
- Lastly, contact a consumer protection attorney to see what can be done. In Florida, we have a state statute that protects individual consumer debtors from this type of harassment.
A legitimate debt collection law firm will send you a letter with detailed information about any kind of debt that you might owe. Further, making sure that you are on top of your debts will prevent an incident of this kind from ever happening to you.
If you think that you have been a victim of a fraud like this one, please make sure to contact us - we may be able to help by suing the debt collector in question.