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Collectors Altering Caller ID Received US$48m Fine

Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - Posted by Philip Harvey

In Los Angeles, California, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") took action against a finance company and its subsidiary resulting US$48.3m in fines and penalties.

The CFPB investigation allegedly uncovered that the debt collectors from the financier were utilising a web based program called Skip Tracy. 

This program was used for outward and inward bound telephone calls and permits its users to alter the caller ID that a call recipient would receive. Apparently the debt collectors used this Skip Tracy service on over 137,000 loan accounts. They would alter the ID and pretend to be:

  • Flower shops, pizza delivery services and family or friends. For instance, if a debt collector alter the caller ID to be from a flower shop, the debt collector would continue to pretend to be from the flower shop in an attempt to find illicit information from the account holder.
  • Repossession agents. The debt collectors would advise the consumers that their vehicle was about to be repossessed.
  • Storage facilities. The debt collectors making calls would imply a car may be released back if a partial payment was made (even though they would only release the vehicle if full payment was made).
  • Law enforcement officials. The debt collectors pretended to be law enforcement officials and would threaten criminal charges, even where the cases had not been referred to law enforcement agencies.

Whilst in the US, it is very very likely that the misleading and deceptive conduct provisions of Australia Law would apply should this style of collection technique be applied here.

Furthermore, the companies were also fined for disclosing the existence of debts to 3rd parties without consent.

Source: American Banker - CFPB Hits Auto Lender With $48.3M Fines

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