MAJOR SETTLEMENT AGAINST DEBT COLLECTOR FOR BOGUS MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION COLLECTION
On May 15, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced the settlement of an enforcement proceeding against Luebke, Baker & Associates, Inc., Kevin Luebke and other Defendants (“Luebke Collection Agency”) under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). According to the FTC, the Luebke Collection Agency had allegedly collected debts for magazine subscriptions despite the fact that the FTC had previously sued the company that had originally sold the magazine subscriptions for deceptive marketing in 2003. Despite the fact that the FTC had notified the Luebke Collection Agency of a 2003 federal court order against the publisher that placed special requirements on the collection of bogus magazine subscriptions, the Luebke Collection Agency allegedly continued to collect the debts.
According to the FTC Complaint, the Luebke Collection Agency allegedly committed unlawful acts including:
falsely telling consumers that magazine subscription debts were exempt from the statute of limitations;
masking the identity of debt collectors on caller ID; pretending to be attorneys from a law firm; falsely posing as television personality, Ed McMahon; and illegally threatening to garnish wages.
The proposed settlement provides for a monetary judgment totaling $3.1 million, including $2.3 million in civil penalties for violations of the FDCPA and $730,000 for disgorgement of unlawfully collected magazine subscriptions.
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The Consumer Fraud Attorney – Murphy Law Firm has filed numerous lawsuits against debt collectors that make false statements and threats in the course of collecting a consumer debt. Past litigation involved claims against debt collectors who also have pretended to be police officers, state attorneys, public defenders and court officials. The Consumer Rights Lawyer – Murphy Law Firm is also currently investigating claims against debt collectors that “spoof” caller IDs. The practice of “spoofing” involves the use of a false telephone number or identity to prevent caller IDs from identifying the caller as a debt collector. Our law firm has observed a significant increase in the number of debt collectors who use “spoofing” to unfairly trick consumers into answering unwanted and often abusive telephone calls.