Over the past several years, many Arizona consumers have called with stories of harassment and threats by collection agencies or debt buyers from Buffalo New York. The threats include arrest, criminal action, legal action, loss of one's home and car, contacting employer, etc. Though these threats seem obviously illegal, many debtors get scared and pay these criminals money.
The Syracuse.com website recently posted a news article on Maurice Sessum, a Buffalo debt collector and owner of the collection agency 4 Star Resolution, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for fraud. Sessum was operating a collection which scammed thousands of consumers to overpay their debts by $31 million.
The article outlines many of the false statements used by 4 Star and Sessum to defraud consumers, including:
that 4 Star was affiliated with local government and law enforcement agencies
that debtor had committed crimes, and if debt was not paid immediately, they would be arrested
that driver's license would be suspended if debt not immediately
false threats of legal action
Anytime you receive a call from a collector, make sure you know who they are, including the name and address of the agency, and that they have a legitimate claim that you owe them money. You can check to see if they are licensed by the Arizona Department of Financial Affairs here. (A company collecting its own debt does not have to be licensed.) Most importantly, if there is any doubt that the company is legitimate, contact a consumer protection lawyer.
You can always call the Bybee Law Center, PLC at (480) 756-8822 to discuss a collection call.