Baltimore, Maryland
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From the BBB:

http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/collection-agencies/allied-interstate-in-west-palm-beach-fl-9638#govtaction

Government Actions

The following describes a government action that has been resolved by either a settlement or a decision by a court or administrative agency. If the matter is being appealed, it will be noted below.

As of October 06, 2011, the Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman issued enforcement actions against Allied Interstate, LLC accused of violating Minnesota law. Consent orders made public Thursday allege this agency unlawfully hired convicted felons, harassed consumers, forged signatures, failed to properly report instances of criminal identity theft, and doctored financial documents.

An investigation of Allied Interstate, LLC uncovered a serious breakdown of vital consumer protections in the company's operations. Through a broken system of inadequate background checks, deceit, and negligence, Allied Interstate hired numerous convicted felons as registered debt collectors. The company fired employees for harassing debtors over the phone, using profanity, forging documents, and other serious misconduct - but failed to inform the Commerce Department of these violations, as required by law.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Allied Interstate, LLC

Plymouth-based Allied Interstate, LLC has been charged with: 1) failing to establish adequate screening procedures when hiring individual collector applicants; 2) failing to properly screen debt collector registrations before submitting license renewal requests to the Commissioner; 3) employing debt collectors with prior felony convictions; and 4) failing to report when its registered debt collectors were fired for failing background checks, swearing at debtors, theft of debtor's financial information, or falsifying debtor records.

In one instance, a debt collector applicant disclosed her criminal background to Allied Interstate, LLC during the application process. She had been previously convicted of financial card fraud and of being a lookout in a burglary. Allied Interstate, LLC hired her nonetheless and told the Commerce Department she had no criminal history.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has instructed Allied Interstate, LLC to comply with industry regulations and pay a $300,000 civil penalty.

The Department of Commerce offers these helpful tips to help Minnesotans avoid becoming victims of debt collection scams:

Call us first. Do not send money to a "debt collector" you think may be perpetrating a fraud - call the Department of Commerce to see if the person is, in fact, a licensed debt collector.

Protect your identity. Do not give away or verify any of your personal financial information.

Protect your money. Ask your bank to put an "alert" on your account (often these scammers have a consumer's bank account information before they begin harassing them).

Avoid phony calls. Be wary if the debt cannot be verified or if no documentation is received. At that point, ask the callers to stop contacting you and register with the National Do Not Call Registry at www.DoNotCall.gov or 888-382-1222.

Contest errors. If no debt is confirmed, contact any involved parties to clear up inaccuracies on your credit report, such as: the debt collector; the creditor or company claiming unresolved accounts; and the major credit bureaus. Write a detailed letter and include supporting documents to prove your case. The Federal Trade Commission provides additional resources for reporting errors.

Know your rights. Review the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which sets standards for collection agencies and prohibits abusive tactics. The FDCPA is enforced by the FTC and violations should be reported. Debt collectors:

May not make false or deceptive claims.

Are not allowed to make idle threats, express or implied, or use abusive or profane language.

Should not discuss consumers' accounts with unauthorized third parties.

May not inaccurately report credit information or pressure consumers to pay debts they do not owe.

Must investigate the validity of a dispute over a debt.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Help Line can be reached by phone at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602. Complaints can also be sent by email to consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by mail to Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, Saint Paul, MN 55101.

The following describes a pending government action that has been formally brought by a government agency but has not yet been resolved. We are providing a summary of the government's allegations, which have not yet been proven.

Attorney General John Kroger today announced an agreement that requires a Minnesota debt collector that has prompted hundreds of consumer complaints to pay $90,000 and put a stop to its abusive practices.

"The Department of Justice will not tolerate any attempt to threaten, harass or mislead Oregon consumers as a means of doing business." said Attorney General Kroger. "When companies violate the law, we will hold them accountable."

Roughly 200 consumer complaints have been filed with the Department of Justice against Allied Interstate in the past five years, accusing the company of systematically violating numerous prohibitions under the Oregon and federal Debt Collection Practices Acts.

Among other things, the complaints allege that Allied Interstate repeatedly called Oregon consumers even after being told they were not the intended debtor; repeatedly calling and hanging up when someone answered the phone; revealing alleged debts to third parties without permission to do so; threatening legal action the company was not authorized to take; and using obscene or profane language and harassing third parties with repeated phone calls.

Under the agreement filed April 7 in Marion County Circuit Court, Allied Interstate is permanently barred from:

Making any misrepresentation in collecting or attempting to collect a debt;

Making any representation that a consumer owes a debt or the amount of a debt, unless there is a reasonable basis for making such representation;

Communicating with or continuing to call an Oregon resident once informed that they have called the wrong number, or once a resident has stated a desire not to be contacted;

Using an automated dialer to call Oregon consumers unless the company has verified the phone numbers belong to actual debtors;

Communicating with third parties about a consumer's debt without the consumer's consent or court permission;

Using obscene or profane language or harassing consumers or third parties with repeated phone calls; and

Making any other false or misleading statement in collecting a debt, including threatening action it does not intend to take.

Allied Interstate must also pay $90,000 dollars to the Oregon Department of Justice and an additional $50,000 if it fails to abide by any terms set forth in the agreement.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Janelle Factora Wipper and Investigator Dale Geiger handled the case for the Oregon Department of Justice.

For further assistance, please contact the Minnesota Attorney General at Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Tel: (651) 296-3353 or 1-800-657-3787

TTY: (651) 297-7206 or 1-800-366-4812

The following describes a government action that has been resolved by either a settlement or a decision by a court or administrative agency. If the matter is being appealed, it will be noted below.

As of September, 26, 2011, Consent Order #CA18607KRJ, the State of Minnesota, Department of Commerce, Commissioner of Commerce Mr. Mike Rothman, commence formal action pursuant to Minn.State. 45.027 (2010), and other applicable law, against Respondent Allied Interstate's collection agency license. The Commissioner acknowledges that on February 1, 2011, the Respondent had 1,286 registered debt collectors and had 14 collection agency locations licensed to collect in Minnesota. The Commissioner is prepared to commence formal action based on the allegations that Respondent:

A) Failed to establish adequate procedures to follow when screening individual collector applicants prior to submitting registration applications to the Commissioner which violates Minn.State 332.33, subd. 8 (2010).

B) Failed to properly screen numerous individual debt collector registration prior to submitting their initial and/or renewal registrations to the Commissioner. By submitting an unqualified applicant for a registration violates Minn.State 332.33 Subd. 5(a)(2010).

C) Employed individuals as debt collectors who were known or should have been known to, have criminal backgrounds that included felonies. Said criminal backgrounds prohibited the applicants from being registered, in violation of Minn. State. 45.027 subd. 7 (2010).

D) Failed to notify the Department when its registered debt collectors were fired for reasons that were in whole or in part violations of Minn.State. 332.385 (2010). The reasons for termination included failing background checks, 3rd party disclosure, inappropriate language and behavior, calling and swearing at debtors, theft of financial information of debtors and falsifying debtor records.

E) Employed individuals as debt collectors who were known to or should have been known to have criminal backgrounds that included felonies which is violation of Minn.Stat. 45.027 Subd. 7 (2010).

Respondent has completed the following as required in the Consent Order dated January 27, 2011:

A. Established practices, procedures and/or guidelines which include, but not limited to, a Screening Process to ensure that Respondent does not submit debt collector registration applications to the Commissioner for individuals prohibited by Minn. State 332.33 and/or otherwise known to be unqualified or unfit.

B. Submitted its Screening Process to the Commissioner for review and made such changes to the Screening Process the Commissioner deemed necessary.

C. Subjected all currently employed registered debt collectors to the Screening Process to ensure compliance with Minn.State 332.33 and reported to the Commissioner any registered collectors whose employment is terminated for not being eligible for registration.

D. Audited employee records of terminated employees for the last five years to determine if there were terminated for reasons in whole or in part for violations of Minn.Stat.332.385 (2010) and/or the FDCPA.

E. Established auditing procedures and agency policies to ensure that criminal convictions of its debt collectors are promptly reviewed and acted upon.

It is hereby ordered, pursuant to Minn.State 45.027,subd.5(2010) that Respondent shall cease and desist from any further violations of Minn.State 332 and 45.024(2010), and comply with all other laws of State of Minnesota,. Respondent shall report to the Commissioner any and all rejected debt collector registrations and the reasons for the rejections on a quarterly basis during the two year period following the effective date of this order. Respondent shall report to the Commissioner any debt collector terminations that occur as a result of their Screening Process for the renewal period June 30, 2011 through June 30, 2013.

Pursuant to Minn.State. 45.027, subd. 6(2010) that the Respondent shall pay to the State of Minnesota a civil penalty of $300,000.

For further assistance contact the State of Minnesota,

Department of Commerce,

Commissioner Mike Rothman

651-296-6025

651-297-1959 FAX

commerce.commissioner@state.mn.us

The following describes a government action that has been resolved by either a settlement or a decision by a court or administrative agency. If the matter is being appealed, it will be noted below.

As of July 19, 2010, a Settlement Agreement and Consent order (the Agreement), Case DFRFY2010025, was entered by and between the Maryland State Collection Agency Licensing Board in the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (the Agency) and Allied Interstate, Inc. (the Respondent). The Agency and the Respondent (the Parties) consent to the entry of this Agreement as a final resolution of this matter.

On February 25, 2010, after finding reasonable grounds to believe that Respondent likely violated

various provisions of the MCDCA while collecting or attempting to collect alleged consumers debts (collectively the "Alleged Violations"), and upon determining that action under BR 7-205, 7-308, FI 2-115(b).

The Respondent does not admit to the Alleged Violations set forth herein but, nonetheless, wishes to resolve the Alleged Violations without the need for an administrative hearing, thereby avoiding the costs associated with such hearing and any potential appeals, and therefore agrees to resolve this mater fully, finally, and completely without an administrative hearing as set forth in this Agreement, and further accepts without condition, and fully agrees to abide by, each and every term set forth in the Agreement.

Respondent has agreed to each and every one of the following actions in the exchange for a final resolution of this matter:

a. Respondent will pay a voluntary penalty of $20,000 by check made payable to the Commissioner of Financial Regulation within thirty (30) days of this agreement being fully executed and delivered.

b. Respondent will provide the Agency with an acceleration contact for resolution of Maryland consumer complaints filed with the Agency against Respondent, to include a non-public phone number and email address for this contact.

c. Respondent has implemented, or will implement, a program to address agent behavior problems, to include, among other things, a "red card" program, call monitoring of agents, and agent bonuses for compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

d. Respondent will complete implementation of a new compliance-focused collections software system, which was developed by a consulting firm specially for Respondent's in-house use, on or about December 31, 2010.

For further assistance contact the Maryland State Collection Agency Licensing Board in the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation at 410-230-6100.

What government actions does BBB report on?

Product or Service Mentioned: Allied Interstate Debt Collection.

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