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FTC fines debt collector for improperly contacting clients

Despite their best efforts, some hard-working residents of Ohio may find themselves in a financial bind. When faced with large amounts of debt, it may be that their best course of action is to file for bankruptcy. An experienced Ohio bankruptcy attorney can help someone considering this option, whether it be Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

It is important for Ohioans to understand what their rights and responsibilities are when it comes to their debts. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people and companies out there who may be inclined to use techniques to attempt to collect their debts that are not only professionally questionable but actually illegal.

One such debt collector recently came to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which had alleged that his firms broke the law by threatening borrowers via text messages and illegally misrepresenting themselves. Although the firms had legal-sounding names -- National Attorney Collection Services and National Attorney Services -- federal officials say that the people working there were not lawyers, and the companies were not law firms.

According to authorities, representatives from the companies did not tell people that they were debt collectors, which violates consumer protection laws. The companies allegedly threatened people who owed money with prison time or lawsuits, often by text messages -- a medium that is not as heavily regulated as other forms of electronic communication.

Officials say the companies sent out more than a million text messages. While these messages were improper, filing for bankruptcy might put an end to legitimate requests from debt collectors. A bankruptcy attorney can explain consumers' options in greater detail.

Source: The Washington Post, "FTC hits debt collector with $1 million fine for sending threatening texts to Spanish speakers," Cecilia Kang, Sept. 25, 2013

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