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New Low for Debt Collectors: The Bogus “Courtroom” Scam

As hard as it might be, try to imagine a phony (yet official looking) law enforcement officer showing up on your doorstep to collect a debt. Using official looking documents, he intimidates you into making payment, surrendering property in lieu of payment, or “Summons” you to court. The court isn’t actually a court, but looks like one complete with someone who looks like a judge presiding over your “Case”.

badges.jpgThose are some of the allegations against Unicredit America Inc., an Erie PA based debt collector.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Unicredit America Inc. The lawsuit accuses Unicredit of using deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers. These tactics include the use of fake “hearings” allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom.

In conjunction with the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office has also filed a petition for special and preliminary injunction. The injunction seeks court action to freeze all Unicredit assets; prohibit the company from engaging in any debt collection; immediately cease all bogus hearings or depositions; and to provide detailed information about company bank accounts, assets and business records.

“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’.”