A consumer debt collection agency was shut down by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday morning after dozens of complaints were filed about the company's business tactics.
Swanson Walker & Associates in Lockport, owned by Sean Millard, reached an agreement with Schneiderman to terminate its business and pay a $10,000 fine. The Attorney General's office, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission Sentinel Network all received several notices that the agency harassed customers when attempting to collect repayments.
The complaints said that Swanson debt collectors repeatedly violated the law by improperly calling consumers at work, inappropriately accusing individuals of check fraud and threatening to file a lawsuit or arrest them. Additionally, consumers claimed Swanson disclosed their debts to third parties and made threats to seize a homeowner's property and freeze bank accounts.
"Attempting to get out of debt is a stressful and overwhelming process that countless consumers struggle with every day," Schneiderman said in a press release. "To threaten and bully these individuals is unacceptable and wrong, and my office will keep fighting to hold those who employ these tactics accountable."
The debt collection agency's website also contained false representations, according to the news release, including claiming to utilize two methodologies of collections traditional and litigation. However, the AG's office said Swanson never litigated a case and did not hire an attorney to even review matters or file a lawsuit.
When American Banker tried to call the debt collection company on Thursday afternoon, a recording said, "this number is not set up to receive phone calls." Additionally, the company website was shut down.
A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an annual report in March which revealed that about one-third of the more than 30,300 complaints the agency reviewed were about a collector repeatedly trying to collect debt that the consumer said they did not owe.