According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General, debt collection company, Unicredit, used fake court proceedings to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables without following the lawful procedures for debt collection.
The Attorney General’s Office accused Unicredit of sending letters to consumers that were often hand-delivered by people dressed like sheriff deputies, implying that consumers would be arrested if they failed to appear at their fake court, illegally staged by Unicredit. These illegal subpoenas summoned consumers to an office, which included a room referred by Unicredit employees as “the courtroom.”
The “court room” was located in the Unicredit “Debt Resolution Center.” This Unicredit office was equipped with furniture and decorations similar to those used in actual court offices, including “a raised bench area where a fake judge would be seated; two tables and chairs in front of the bench for attorneys and defendants; a simulated witness stand; seating for spectators; and legal books on bookshelves.” During some fake proceedings, an individual dressed in black was seated on the bench presenting himself as a judge. These fake court proceedings were used to intimidate consumers into providing their bank account information and giving up their assets.
The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a lawsuit against Unicredit America, Inc., and a petition for special and preliminary injunction, asking the court to prohibit the company from engaging in any debt collection and immediately stop all fake hearings or depositions.
At the 1st hearing, Unicredit agreed to put an end the tactics at the center of the government’s complaint and to stop sending letters threatening consumers with arrest. At the 2nd hearing the judge ordered the entire Unicredit operation closed.
Unicredit’s actions were in direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits debt collectors from using deception to force payment, pretending to be a lawyer or police officer, claiming to have initiated a lawsuit, or using stationary designed to look like official court or government communication.
If you are being harassed by debt collectors, in violation of the FDCPA please call, Consumer Protection Attorney, Todd M. Friedman at (877) 449-8898 for a free consultation.