FTC Takes Action Against Debt Collectors Using Robocalls to Threaten and Deceive Consumers

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

All too often, debt collectors use robocalls for illegal purposes.

That’s why we’re pleased to hear that the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on three debt collection organizations – Unified Global Group, Premier Debt Acquisitions, and The Primary Group – for allegedly using robocalls, texts, and emails to illegally threaten and trick consumers. The FTC has temporarily shut down these groups and is seeking to put an end to the illegal activity, for good.

According to the FTC, the debt collectors told consumers that they would be arrested or sued if they did not pay, even though this was not true. In some communications, they also violated the law by not identifying themselves as debt collectors. Jessica Rich, the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, says that “Legitimate debt collectors know the rules,” further noting, “They can’t harass or lie to you, whether they send a text, email, or call you.”

This is just one example of the way that debt collectors can abuse robocalls. For example, consumers have complained to us that debt collectors use robocalls to hound them for debts they don’t owe. Linda, of Longview, Texas, says:

“When I moved to Texas and got a new phone number, I immediately began getting aggressive calls from debt collectors. I told them that I had just gotten a reassigned number. They didn’t care. They put the number on a Robocall list. I was getting called every few minutes around the clock. I unplugged my phone. After a few weeks I realized that I was paying for nothing. For the first time ever, I dropped my landline and have just used a cell phone ever since. This worries me as I lose some safety in case of a fire or burglary.”

Consumers should have the right to protect themselves from shady debt collectors who violate the law. That’s why we’re demanding that the phone companies provide free tools so consumes can block unwanted robocalls. Click here to sign our petition!

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