Asset Acceptance, one of the biggest and most-complained about debt collectors/debt purchasers, recently agreed to a $2.5 million settlement to an FTC lawsuit. Asset Acceptance faced a slew of allegations including collecting debts from identity theft victims, providing false information to the credit bureaus, pursuing debts after the statute of limitations expired, and tricking consumers into restarting the statute of limitations.
As part of the settlement, Asset Acceptance is required to investigate consumer disputes over debt validity and notify consumers before placing negative information on their credit reports. Both are already part of existing law, the FDCPA and FCRA respectively.
Asset Acceptance agreed not to sue debtors over debts that have passed the statute of limitations and to inform debtors when their debt debt may be "too old to be legally enforceable that it will not sue to collect on that debt." In a statement to Business Week, an Asset Acceptance representative says they'll use the phrasing, "Given the age of the debt we will not sue you." If it's used correctly, the new phrasing will eliminate many questions over whether the statute of limitations on a debt has expired.
Asset Acceptance's settlement is the second-largest FTC settlement with a debt collector since a settlement with West Asset Management for $2.8 million in March 2011. West Asset Management was accused of repeatedly calling consumers even about debts that weren't theirs, informing third-parties of debts, ignoring written requests to stop communication about debts, withdrawing money from consumer accounts without permission, and falsely claiming consumers would be sued over the debts.
Complaining to the FTC may seem useless, but it's consumer complaints that drive the FTC to crackdown on debt collectors and other businesses that violate consumer rights. Complain to FTC at FTCComplaintAssistant.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. Your State Attorney General is another place to lodge complaints against debt collectors and other businesses.
Source: Federal Trade Commssion
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