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Consumers must protect themselves from dishonest debt collectors

Mar 24, 2011 Kyle Duncan

With more and more people unable to pay off their debts due to the tough economy, the debt collection industry has seen an increase in demand for its services. But with the increased demand has come an increase in the number of collectors and firms using illegal tactics to get the money owed. One of the people recently caught for his illegal debt collection activity was Tobias W. Boyland. Boyland, who had been on the run after facing 15 years behind bars in state prison in New York, was recently captured by authorities in Pittsburgh. The convicted fraudster was to begin a prison sentence last year for running a debt collection agency that used heavy-handed debt collection tactics, but took off before turning himself into jail. A federal-state fugitive task force apprehended Boyland at a Red Roof Inn outside downtown Pittsburgh and held him at local county jail before he faced a judge. Those familiar with the case said that the man posed a threat to society by using harsh tactics against those who were in debt, even threatening them with weapons. "This guy is a really, really dangerous criminal," Erie County, New York, District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He made a ton of money- his nickname is 'Bags of Money' - by threatening people with bodily harm in his predatory debt collection practices. He was convicted several years ago for sticking a gun in somebody's face during an armed robbery." When it comes to debt collection, there are many protections that consumers have against abusive collectors. The collectors must present the debt in writing and must stop calls once a person asks them to stop doing so. It is also illegal to threaten personal harm if a debt is not paid. In East Texas, police recently arrested a woman in the debt collection industry after she used another person's identity to purchase thousands of dollars worth of goods from a store. KTRE-TV reports that Lufkin Police arrested Leanna Jean Busby for using the identity of someone from whom she was collecting debt to open up a credit card account.