It's good to know that when you're at the end of your rope dealing with aggressive debt collectors that at least some of them are eventually caught and punished. That's what basically happened this year to the owners of Rincon Debt Management. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Rincon didn’t just target all consumers – it apparently felt that its tactics would be especially effective if used against “Spanish-speakers and people strapped for cash.” Apparently, Rincon regularly pushed the debt collection boundaries by routinely calling debtors’ employers, as well as their family members, friends and neighbors. The ongoing stress and pressure was more than many of the debtors could handle.
Furthermore, the FTC states that these violations of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) were pursued nationwide. Among other specific complaints, Rincon allowed some of its collectors to threaten the poor not just with lawsuits – but with actual arrests. This was probably very frightening for those Spanish-speaking victims who knew little or no English and probably knew even less about how debt lawsuits are regularly pursued in this country. In a number of cases, victims were also hounded when Rincon probably knew they owed nothing.
Response of Rincon’s Owners And Future Penalties
Naturally, Rincon had its lawyers release a statement saying that they had no idea that they were doing anything in violation of the FDCPA. Considering the amount of evidence examined by the FTC, that self-serving statement was highly questionable – at best. At present, the two owners (Begley and Lunsford) both claim to be so poor that they’re unable to pay the entire $23 million judgment actually obtained against them. “Begley is surrendering rights to more than 3,500 American Eagle silver and gold coins . . . [and will also have to] pay $176,115 since he sold his home; Lunsford is also paying over $100,000 for selling his home. Both men made these sales after a “freeze” was placed on their assets. Of course, the $3.3 million settlement may not wind up being all that these two men will have to pay in fines and victim restitution. The government is well aware that they may have lied about being unable to pay the full $23 million judgment obtained against them. Should the FTC discover that the men hid many more assets, they'll be forced to pay the full amount.
Sadly, this behavior just shows that some of the stereotypes concerning those who enter the debt collection field may be fully deserved -- far too many of these people keep exhibiting highly questionable ethics.
If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.