A collection agency out of Arizona is being sued by the Arizona Attorney General for illegally collecting $1.6 million, and violations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Mark Smith and his wife Deborah Butler are being sued by the Arizona Attorney General for defrauding thousands of people out of more than $1.6 million. Butler and Smith operated under the collection agency names of: CMS Financial Group, John Lee Group & Associates and TD Financial Solutions Group.
When Smith and Butler contacted debtors, they falsely identified themselves as attorneys, county sheriff’s offices, even The FBI to scare debtors into paying a debt. Oftentimes, they would spoof the phone numbers so it appeared to come from a courthouse, jail or a sheriff’s office to make it look as though the phone call was legitimate in order to coerce debtors into paying the debt.
Smith and Butler used threatening means to collect the debt. They would threaten incarceration, garnishment, and often say they would take their tax returns if the debt was not paid. As of now we do not know what type of debt Smith or Butler was collecting or how the debt was purchased from the original creditors. Oftentimes, collection agencies are known to purchase “bad paper”. Bad paper in the collection industry means the debt is not legitimate and was either purchased by the collection agency from an unknown broker who falsified the debt. Or purchased accounts that are so old that the statute of limitation has expired and the debt is no longer collectable.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it abundantly clear, debt collectors cannot give false identity as to who they are when collecting the debt, and they most certainly cannot impersonate police officers. This violation is criminal which is how the Attorney General in Arizona is filing criminal charges against Butler and Smith.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there have been 86,000 complaints filed against collection agencies thus far in 2020.
If you have been contacted by a debt collector and question the legal means of what they said to you, or were threatened in any way by a collection agency, make a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. Make sure you get the name and phone number of the collector who contacted you so you can add them in the complaint. If you have any questions as to the rights of a collection agency and their collection tactics, call us at your850. We will help make sure your rights are protected and stop the debt collectors from abusing you.