ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Operation Corrupt Collection: Nationwide Crackdown on Phantom and Abusive Debt Collection

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners announced today a nationwide law enforcement and outreach initiative called Operation Corrupt Collector. The goal of this initiative is to protect consumers in Arkansas and nationwide from phantom debt collection and abusive, threatening debt collection practices.

“Scammers are creative and conniving when trying to steal from Arkansans and I won’t stand for it,” said General Leslie Rutledge. “Operation Corrupt Collector is a nationwide effort to help Arkansans resist the high-pressure, deceptive tactics that lure them into repaying debts they don’t owe.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who receive abusive or misleading debt collection inquiries:

  • Debt collection phone calls are only allowed to a consumer’s home during the hours of 8 AM to 9 PM.  Legitimate debt collectors cannot harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass consumers and cannot make false or misleading statements, including false threats of imprisonment or criminal charges.
  • If a caller requests payment of a suspicious debt, then request a written verification of the debt.  A legitimate collection agency is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  When asked by a consumer, it must provide written verification of the debt, including the name of the original creditor. 
  • Keep detailed records, and report the debt collector to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies if wrongdoing is suspected.

The Operation Corrupt Collector initiative includes 54 total enforcement actions brought by the FTC, other federal agencies, and various state agencies against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices. In coordination with 46 states, Arkansas joins with the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize. The FTC has also created a new online dashboard with information about reports received from consumers on debts not owed and abusive and threatening collection practices. So far in 2020, the FTC has received more than 85,000 reports from consumers related to debt collection, and nearly 45 percent of those were related to debts the consumer did not owe or abusive and threatening practices.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves as co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General Veterans Affairs Committee, re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture and was the former Chairwoman of the National Association of Attorneys General Southern Region. As the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, she remains active on the Executive Board.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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