The Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney Generals Office obtained a court order temporarily halting a fake debt collection scam located in Aurora, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. The defendants are charged with illegally using threats and intimidation to coerce consumers to pay payday loan debts they either did not owe, or did not owe to the defendants.
The case against K.I.P. LLC, Charles Dickey and Chantelle Dickey is the agencys seventh phantom debt collector case.
"The defendants have threatened and intimidated their way into stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting people all across the country, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. "Between our two offices [FTC and Illinois Attorney General], we have hundreds of complaints. It is clear they must be stopped."
According to the complaint, since at least 2010, the defendants used a host of business names to target consumers who obtained or applied for payday or other short-term loans, pressuring them into paying debts that they either did not owe or that the defendants had no authority to collect.
Often armed with sensitive financial information, the defendants would call consumers and demand immediate payment for payday loans that were supposedly delinquent. To pressure consumers to pay, the defendants threatened that they would:
- Garnish consumers wages;
- Suspend or revoke their drivers licenses;
- Have them arrested or imprisoned; or
- File a lawsuit against them.
In response to the defendants repeated calls and alleged threats, many consumers paid the debts, even though they may not have owed them, because they believed the defendants would follow through on their threats or they simply wanted to end the harassing phone calls.
The complaint also charges the defendants with failing to provide consumers with a notice containing: 1) the amount of the debt; 2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed; 3) a statement that unless the consumer disputes the debt, it will be assumed to be valid; 4) a statement that if the consumer does dispute the debt in writing, the defendants will verify the debt is correct; and 5) a statement that upon the consumers written request, the defendants will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor if different from the current creditor.
The complaint charges that the defendants: called consumers at work when they knew such calls were prohibited by consumers employers; harassed and abused consumers; used obscene or profane language; and called consumers repeatedly with the intent of annoying or abusing them.
The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Collection Agency Act, and that the defendants are not licensed debt collectors as required by Illinois law.
Defendants named in the case include: K.I.P. LLC; Charles Dickey, individually and as an owner, member, or managing member of K.I.P. LLC, and also doing business as (d/b/a) Ezell Williams and AssociatesCorp.; Ezell Williams LLC; Excel Receivables Corp.; Second Chance Financial Credit Corp.; Second Chance Financial LLC; Payday Loan Recovery Group LLC; Payday Loan Recovery Group; Payday Loan Recovery; International Recovery Services LLC; International Recovery Services; and D&R Recovery. The complaint also names Chantelle Dickey, also known as Chantelle Rudd and Chantelle Williams, as an individual and as a manager of K.I.P.