Debt Collection Agencies Banned For Abusive Practices
In a disturbing story from California, the remaining defendants in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission have agreed to a settlement that permanently bans them from the debt collection business. This case, Rumson, Bolling & Associates, is part of the FTC’s ongoing crackdown on illegal debt collection practices.The settlement that was reached resolves the FTC’s charges against three debt collection companies and their owner, David M. Hynes II; the companies and their principal employees used abusive debt collection practices, and also deceived their small business clients. The terms of the settlement require the defendants to pay $700,000—a separate settlement saw over $400,000 in judgments against three other companies that Hynes controlled, which were funneled money from the collection operations.Based out of Van Nuys, California, the defendants collected debts nationwide, and used multiple illegal practices to do so. They harassed consumers with obscene and profane language; threatened physical harm; discussed consumers’ debts to their employers, co-workers, neighbors, and other third parties; and falsely threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest, seizure of their property, or wage garnishment. The defendants even threatened to dig up the bodies of debtors’ deceased relatives for alleged non-payment of funeral bills. All of these are egregious violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which bars deceptive, abusive, and unfair debt collection practices, and the FTC Act, which more generally bars deceptive and unfair commercial practices.Under the settlement terms, defendants David M. Hynes II, Lorena Quiroz-Hynes, Forensic Case Management Services, Inc. (doing business as Rumson, Bolling & Associates, FCMS, Inc., Commercial Recovery Solutions, Inc., and Commercial Investigations, Inc.), Specialized Recovery, Inc. (doing business as Joseph, Steven & Associates and Specialized Debt Recovery), and Commercial Receivables Acquisition, Inc. (doing business as Commercial Recovery Authority, Inc. and The Forwarding Company) accepted a judgement of $33.8 million, which will be suspended due to inability to pay, after they turn over $700,000. Under the same settlement, defendants James S. Hynes and Heather True agreed to judgments of $43,822 and $233,973, respectively, which will be suspended due to their inability to pay. If it is determined that the financial information the defendants gave the FTC was untruthful, the full amount of the judgments will become due. Interestingly, if any of these individuals had done the horrible things they did to debtors outside of the framework of their bogus companies, they most likely would have gone to jail; since this was a FTC case, the judgements are all monetary.If a collection agency has harassed you, you may be entitled to money damages up to $1,000.00, based on the FDCPA, which has been around for almost 35 years. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to every state. In other words, everyone is protected by the FDCPA. The FDCPA is essentially a laundry list of what debt collectors can and cannot do while collecting a debt, as well as things debt collectors must do while collecting a debt. Plus, the FDCPA has a fee-shift provision. This means, the collection agency pays your attorney’s fees and costs. Founding attorney, Michael Agruss, has settled over 1,500 debt collection harassment cases. We want to help you, too.