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Collection Company Under Fire Using For Fake Courtroom

All across the nation, state and federal laws govern how bill collectors can proceed fairly to attempt to collect on a debt. Stories of unfair collection practices come and go. But any seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorney would say that a story coming out of Pennsylvania shocks the conscience.

The story reads like a script from a bad "B"-movie. The state Bureau of Consumer Protection received complaints from consumers regarding a collection company called Unicredit America Inc. The state Attorney General's Office launched an investigation.

The state reportedly filed a lawsuit for the unfair, deceptive and illegal debt collection practices of the company.

According to the lawsuit, the debt collectors created fake subpoenas to draw debtors into answer for debts. In some cases, the collections company sent out individuals posing as sheriff's deputies to hand deliver the deceptive notices. The notices suggested that the sheriff would take the debtor into custody if the person failed to appear for a phony "hearing" or "deposition."

The notices directed individuals to a "courtroom." The room had all the accoutrements of the real thing. The elaborate set was furnished to look authentic.

The room reportedly had a raised "bench" area. A person, adorned in a black robe, sat where any person appearing in the room would expect a judge to be seated. Witness stands and attorney's tables were created. The room reportedly contained a library of legal books. Seating for spectators was not forgotten on the set.

The lawsuit claims fake court proceedings were held to coerce individuals to provide information on bank accounts. The "court" reportedly would accept payments in cash or would accept titles to assets such as vehicles.

The state's lawsuit seeks to prohibit the collections company from collecting debts until restitution is paid. The suit seeks restitution for all consumers harmed by the unfair practices. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties.

Source: AOL News, "Officials Say Debt Collectors Used Fake Subpoenas," David Lohr, 10 Nov 2010

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