Consider for a moment the difficulties faced by debt collections agencies, we no longer have debtors prisons and many of the most effective, tried and true methods to encourage people to pay their debts, leg breaking for example, are illegal in this country. We even have federal legislation like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which further restrict the ways that a collections agency can harass and harangue the people who's debts they purchased for pennies on the dollar. With our legal system stacked so firmly against them, Unicredit America Inc. of Erie Pennsylvania took the next logical step, they set up their own court.
In a press release the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office accuses Unicredit America Inc. (also called Unicredit Debt Resolution Center) of using "deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers - including the use of bogus "hearings" allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom."
"This is an unconscionable attempt to use fake court proceedings to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables to Unicredit without following lawful procedures for debt collection," Corbett said. "Consumers also allegedly received dubious 'hearing notices' and letters - often hand-delivered by individuals who appear to be Sheriff Deputies - which implied they would be taken into custody by the Sheriff if they failed to appear at the phony court for 'hearings' or 'depositions'."I am ecstatic to say these people have been stopped and are facing prosecution, but what kind of a scum bag do you need to be to think a scheme like this up? What kind of person would pretend to be a judge or a sheriffs deputy in an effort to deceive and intimidate people? I get a warm feeling knowing these people will be facing a real judge soon.According to the lawsuit, fictitious court proceedings were used to intimidate consumers into providing access to bank accounts, making immediate payments or surrendering vehicle titles and other assets - sometimes dispatching Unicredit employees to consumers' homes in order to retrieve documents or have consumers sign payment agreements.
From the press release linked above:
Corbett urged consumers with complaints or questions related to Unicredit debt collection practices to call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or file an online consumer complaint.