United States Attorney General / Criminal Conduct
When I was in college in New York([protected]), someone stole my Sears credit card and ran up about $3000.00 in purchases. When I complained to Sears, they offered to send me copies of the receipts. I got the copies and saw that whoever stole my card signed the receipts "12345". I explained to Sears that my name is not "12345" and that I was not paying the bill.
A couple of years later, I started getting calls from collection agencies. Most were very understanding when I explained what had happened and merely asked for copies of the receipts signed "12345" to prove that I was not responsible for this debt. About 16 months ago, a company calling themselves "Allied Debt Collections" claimed that they were now in charge of this account and that I had to pay them them money. If I refused, they were going to tell my employer and neighbors that I was a deadbeat and that I owed them money. They even threatened my family.
I immediately contacted the police in my area and the US Attorney's Office (violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a Federal case). Nobody took the threats seriously and told me that I should get a lawyer and file a suit for violation of the FDCPA. The lawyers I hired, a firm in Pennsylvania that specializes in FDCPA cases, told me that they would be happy to take the case. The attorney I spoke with explained that what would happen to Allied was that they would have to pay damages to me. The maximum damages in a standard FDCPA case is $1, 000 plus they have to pay my attorney's fees! I asked the lawyer if the Federal Government ever got involved in these kinds of cases and I was informed that, because Big Business has bought and paid for this country several times over, the Government does not take these cases seriously.
Further research has shown me that collection agencies often TRAIN THEIR REPS TO THREATEN PEOPLE! They know the Government will not charge them with criminal offenses and that the worst civil penalty they face is a few thousand dollars. When they balance that against how many people they can get to pay because of the threats, they see that the potential reward far outways the potential risk.
The only way to stop companies from violating the FDCPA is for the people in charge of prosecuting criminals who has broken Federal Law to do their damn jobs! Until serious penalties, civil and/or criminal, are instituted, this scourge will continue to thrive. Most lawyers that help criminals commit crimes are not allowed to remain lawyers...maybe the same rule should apply to Federal prosecutors that turn a blind eye.