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Florida residents may be interested in learning that a federal lawsuit against a group of collection agencies. The claim, which was filed in a Georgia federal court in March and unsealed on April 8, alleges the agencies are trying to defraud consumers through the use of intimidating robocalls.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, accuses the collectors of making threatening and harassing phone calls to consumers in an attempt to collect “phantom” debts, which are bills that may not exist or may be older than the applicable statute of limitations. The collection companies reportedly refuse to identify the issuer of the alleged debt and threaten consumers with arrest and wage garnishment if the debt is not paid. CFPB claims that the scheme has brought in millions of dollars in payments to the companies involved.

The collection companies named in the suit include Universal Debt & Payment Solutions, WNY Account Solutions, Check & Credit Recovery and Credit Power. Also named in the suit are a group of payment processing companies, including Global Payments Inc., Pathfinder Payment Solutions Inc. and Francis David Corp. Global Connect, the telemarketing firm that sent out the robocalls, is also named as a defendant. On April 7, a court granted a preliminary injunction stopping the allegedly improper collection practices. It also froze the assets of the defendants.

Anyone receiving threatening debt collection phone calls may benefit by consulting with an attorney. While the calls can be very disconcerting, there are protections in place to protect consumers from harassment. An attorney could review the conduct of the collection agency along with a client’s financial situation and recommend the best course of legal action.

Source: Consumerist, “Robocalling Phantom Debt Collector Accused Of Harassing, Defrauding Consumers,” Chris Morran, April 8, 2015