Don’t get taken by a fake debt collector!

government actionIt’s easy to get rattled when a debt collector calls. Is the debt real? The caller might use abusive, threatening language, but maybe you took out a payday loan years ago and missed a payment?

It might be tempting to pay and make it go away, but… not so fast. You could be paying a scammer for a debt you don’t owe.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office recently obtained a court order temporarily halting a fake debt collection scam based in Aurora, Illinois. The defendants are charged with using threats and intimidation to get consumers to pay payday loan debts they didn’t owe, or did not owe to the defendants.

The FTC is pursuing a case against K.I.P., LLC, Charles Dickey, and Chantelle Dickey.

Since at least 2010, the defendants allegedly used a numerous business names to go after consumers who received or applied for payday or other short-term loans. The defendants allegedly pressured consumers into paying debts that they either did not owe or that the defendants had no authority to collect.

To pressure consumers to pay, the defendants threatened to garnish consumers’ wages, suspend or revoke their drivers’ licenses, have them arrested or imprisoned, or threatened them with lawsuits. Many consumers paid, either because they believed the threats, or because they wanted to stop the harassing phone calls.

The FTC complaint also charges the defendants with failing to provide consumers with a notice containing: the amount of the debt; the name of the creditor; a statement that unless the consumer disputes the debt, it will be assumed to be valid; a statement that if the consumer does dispute the debt in writing, the defendants will verify the debt is correct; and a statement that upon the consumer’s written request, the defendants will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor if different from the current creditor.

The complaint charges that the defendants: called consumers at work when they knew such calls were prohibited by consumers’ employers; harassed and abused consumers; used obscene or profane language; and called consumers repeatedly with the intent of annoying or abusing them.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Collection Agency Act, and that the defendants are not licensed debt collectors as required by Illinois law.

Defendants include: K.I.P., LLC; Charles Dickey, individually and as an owner, member, or managing member of K.I.P., LLC, and also doing business as Ezell Williams and Associates, Corp.; Ezell Williams, LLC; Excel Receivables, Corp.; Second Chance Financial Credit, Corp.; Second Chance Financial, LLC; Payday Loan Recovery Group, LLC; Payday Loan Recovery Group; Payday Loan Recovery; International Recovery Services, LLC; International Recovery Services; and D&R Recovery. The complaint also names Chantelle Dickey, also known as Chantelle Rudd and Chantelle Williams, as an individual and as a manager of K.I.P.