CFPB and NY State AG Trying to Recover $60 Million from Unethical Debt Collector
On September 28th, The Buffalo News reported an update in the case of Douglas MacKinnon, a disgraced former debt collector, and the government's attempt to recoup $60 million in restitution and penalties for his allegedly abusive debt collection practices.
MacKinnon was sued in 2016 as part of a investigation into allegedly illegal and unethical debt collection tactics. The Buffalo News reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and New York State Attorney General's (AG) Office took action against MacKinnon and his companies for "harassing, threating, and deceiving consumers across the nation into paying inflated debts or amounts they did not owe." Of the $60 million the government is seeking in the case, $40 million would be used to pay back defrauded consumers, of which New York AG Letitia James estimates at "hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals across the nation" as quoted by The Buffalo News.
Before making any payments to a debt collector, it is essential to validate a debt and to ensure that any payment would be credited toward paying down that debt. In this case, consumers were allegedly harassed and threatened; The Buffalo News reports that MacKinnon and his companies even went so far as "to pretend to be calling from a court or government agency" in order to intimidate consumers into paying. If true, this sort of behavior would almost certainly be a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), if not additional state and federal laws.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of a scam like this, don't hesitate to reach out to an attorney. If you're confused or scared in how to communicate with a debt collector, an attorney can assist in validating a debt and can advise on what sorts of behaviors and actions a debt collector can and cannot do under the law.
You can read the entire piece from The Buffalo News here.