Creditors may have a right to pursue their debt, but they have to do it legally. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week announced a judgment against a debt collection operation it says used abusive tactics and threatened consumers into paying debts they may not have owed.
Pinnacle Payment Services, LLC and its principals have been barred from debt collection in a settlement with the FTC. They are subject to a $9,384,628 judgment, suspended for most of the defendants due inability to pay.
According to the FTC, the Pinnacle defendants operated out of Atlanta and Cleveland and used fictitious business names implying an affiliation with a law firm or a law enforcement agency. Fictitious names included Global Legal Services, Allied Litigation Group, and Dockets Liens & Seizures.
The defendants allegedly used robocalls and voice messages threatening consumers with legal action and arrest unless they responded within a few days. The defendants allegedly collected millions of dollars in payment for phantom debts – including debts many of the consumers they contacted didn’t owe.
The corporate defendants and individual defendants are banned from debt collection activities. They are banned from misrepresenting any financial product or service and must destroy all the customer information they have on file.
Defendants include Dorian Willis, Lisa Jeter, Nicole Anderson, Hope Wilson, Demarra Massey, Angela Triplett and Tobias Boyland.