THINK YOUR FTC COMPLAINT DOESN’T MATTER? READ ON
Before actually getting into the protocol for complaining, there are a couple of laws with which you should be familiar. First, the Fair Debt Collect Practices Act (FDCPA) which “prohibits debt collectors and collection attorneys from using undue harassment and other unethical practices when collecting debt.” This, according to BCSalliance.com, a website for consumers on handling debt. Second, the FTC Act, from Wikipedia, launched the Federal Trade Commission which was given the power to prevent unfair methods of competition, and/or deceptive acts or practices against consumers.
That said, I ran across a blog recently, CarreonandAssociates,com, which proves the potential clout of the FTC, even in a Bush administration. The article, “Biggest FTC crackdown on collection agency ever. 2.25 million,” published in December 2008, documents how Academy Collection Services abused their rights as a debt collector. More than 1,000 complaints were filed against the company with the FTC and states’ attorneys general. Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says, “They ignored people’s complaints and rewarded the collectors who broke the law. This is not a business model that the FTC tolerates.”
If you are wondering where I am going here, it’s all about those of you who have complained about companies like Experian Credit Bureau in the past, but felt that actually filing a complaint with the FTC was useless. And for all those “Apathetics” out there who complain to themselves, friends or relatives, but never take action on their problem. Please read the above article. If a $2.25 million fine—the largst civil fine ever obtained by the FTC—doesn’t convince Academy Collection Service to do the right thing, probably nothing will. But the system worked.
And speaking of Experian, they were fined twice by the FTC for deceptive advertising in the sale of credit reports. Once in August of 2005 for $950,000, and again in February of 2007 for $300,000. Folks, both of these fines are for the same thing, proving this company will push the envelope if it has to in the sale of your names and personal data. I did a post on Experian in August of 2006 about how they denied my right to dispute a problem. This resulted from my complete credit report mysteriously vanishing from their system for a period of two months right after I had written critical posts about Experian.
In the above Experian post, there are a total of 42 comments as of today, most of which reference problems with the credit bureau. In each case I provided the FTC online complaint site, and if readers followed through, that is a good start in mounting the drive to bring charges against Experian…again. This is only one blog, and when you search “Experian consumer complaints” on Google blog search, you get almost 4,000 hits. Hopefully many of these blogs are recommending readers complain to the FTC.
As a result of the 1,000 complaints against Academy Collection Services, the Justice Dept. filed a complaint against the company on behalf of the FTC, resulting eventually in the $2.25 million fine against Academy. So just keep this in mind when you are wronged by business, and think you have nowhere to turn. And, hopefully, FTC action against these companies will improve under the Obama administration.