Las Vegas may be the “foreclosure capital” of the U.S. But Erie, PA may now be the country’s “bizarre debt collector scam capital.”
Apparently, a debt collection company called Unicredit, Inc. (also known as “Unicredit Debt Resolution Center”) decided it would be more effective in its efforts if it set up its office to look like a court. Everything from court-like furniture to a judge-like raised bench to a guy dressed in black who would periodically sit at the raised bench (though apparently without saying anything). They issued civil subpoenas and even had employees refer to the designated area of their office as “the courtroom.”
The debt collector’s intent was to intimidate less sophisticated debtors by tricking them into believing that there was some sort of official process going on.
Needless to say, this did not go unnoticed by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s office, which issued a press release stating: “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.” read more
It’s just one more example of the lengths to which debt collectors will go to get money from people. We understand that debt collectors have a job to do. But this approach is rather scary. And it’s not like it was one bad apple in a phone center. This was clearly a top-down decision by management. (Which makes you wonder what the strategy meeting discussions must have been like and how the idea was even brought up.)
This is also a reminder to be mindful of debt collection scams. There are many things that debt collectors are not legally permitted to do. Simulating a court is an obvious one. But other infractions are not as clear cut.
If you’re having debt collector problems, or you have questions about what’s legal and what’s not, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger attorney at 702-880-5554 for a free initial consultation.