News & Resources

Fraud gives debt collection officials bad rap in Florida

Mar 09, 2013 Philip Burgess

While using deception goes strictly against best practices standards for debt collection companies, some fraudulent agents continue to cause problems for the industry and the public. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi recently announced that she has obtained an injunction against a group of Orlando-area collectors engaging in illegal activities.

According to insideARM, the debt collection agents had been using deceitful methods in an attempt to convince some individuals to make payments. The Office of Financial Regulation and the Orlando Police Department discovered that the collectors had impersonated law enforcement workers, county clerks, government officials and other individuals in communications with consumers, the source claimed. In many of these cases, the debtors had already settled their accounts, or never had accounts in flux at all.

News 13 reported that 22 complaints have been filed about the fraudulent agency, and that the scam may have affected as many as 1,500 people. Orlando police sergeant Jim Young told the news source that may victims had handed money over to the collectors due to threats that their homes and possessions were at risk. So far, the police have seized approximately $200,000.

In the wake of these incidents, Florida government officials have promised to make efforts to reduce the chances of such events happening in the future, but they have also cautioned citizens to listen to their instincts when it comes to business practices.

"We encourage Floridians to always do their homework before doing businesses with anyone, including debt collectors," said Commissioner Drew Breakspear, Florida Office of Financial Regulation. "Be sure to verify a company's license and if you suspect questionable practice, request assistance by contacting the company's regulatory agency or law enforcement."

Debt collectors do good
The field of debt collection can, at times, be fraught with misunderstanding, and incidents like these only serve to reinforce misconceptions that collectors are villains. Debt collectors who do not follow regulations, including guidelines that forbid them from giving false information, using threats or making excessive calls, give the rest of the field a bad name.

In just one recent example debt collectors doing good, workers at a debt collection agency joined forces to raise $25,000 to give to various charities according to the Times Union. Causes helped by the firm included the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Salvation Army and Hope for Two, a foundation that assists pregnant women with cancer.