Collection agency Swanson Walker & Associates, based in Lockport, N.Y., was shut down Wednesday by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office after an investigation revealed the firm repeatedly violated the law by harassing customers, according to the AG's office.
Owner Sean Millard entered into an agreement with the Schneiderman's office that he would close the operation and pay a $10,000 fine. The Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and the AG's office had received "dozens of complaints about the tactics the agency used when attempting to collect repayments" leading to the enforcement action.
The complaints alleged that Swanson collectors "persistently violated the law" by improperly calling debtors at their places of employment, accusing them of check fraud and criminal violations, falsely reporting that a lawsuit had or would be filed, improperly disclosing consumer debts to third parties and improperly threatening to seize property, freeze bank accounts and garnish wages, according to Schneidermans office.
Swanson's website included several false representations:
"We utilize two methodologies of collections, traditional collection services and litigation."
? Swanson never litigated a case.?
"Litigation is a collection effort made by our associates (non-attorney assistants) under the direction of an attorney."
? Swanson never employed or retained an attorney, and an attorney never gave direction to its associates.?
"Litigation efforts commence when a matter cannot be resolved by our recovery specialists. At this point a retained attorney determines that an account is eligible for litigation, within our jurisdiction, & with the clients approval the legal process begins."
? Swanson never retained an attorney to review matters and never filed a lawsuit.?
"Once a judgment is obtained we use post-judgment remedies such as wage garnishment and levying on property or bank account."
? Swanson never obtained a judgment and never used post-judgment remedies such as wage garnishment and levying on property or bank account.?
"Our clients may place accounts with us that are strictly designated for litigation and not for collection purposes."
? Since Swanson never litigated a case, this representation was false.