In tandem with federal and state regulators and attorneys general, On September 29, 2020, the FTC launched Operation Corrupt Collector to target collectors who engage in unauthorized and abusive collection practices. Simultaneously, the FTC announced it filed suit and had obtained temporary restraining orders against National Landmark Logistics (National) and Absolute Financial Services (Absolute).
Wasting no time in showing they mean business, on March 15, 2021, the FTC announced that, through a settlement, both National and Absolute have been permanently banned from the debt collection industry. The FTC did not mince words, stating the following actions led to these results:
National Landmark Logistics and Absolute Financial Services [used] illegal robocalls to leave messages with consumers that threatened outcomes from lawsuits to arrest. The messages didn’t identify the caller as a debt collector, and when consumers would return the calls, the defendants would present themselves as mediators or attorneys.
In most cases, the debts being collected by National Landmark and Absolute Financial were not actually owed by the consumers, either because they never existed in the first place or had been previously paid off.
In addition to being permanently banned from the collections industry, in their respective settlement agreements, National agreed to a monetary judgment of $16,418,306.00, and Absolute agreed to a monetary judgment of $11,281,993.00. Although these judgments are partially suspended due to National and Absolute’s inability to pay, if either entity misrepresented its financial status, the entire judgment will be due immediately. Further, both National and Absolute agreed to cooperate with the FTC in ongoing law enforcement actions.
The settlements also permanently banned National’s affiliated entities from the collections industry: Liberty Solutions & Associates, LLC and LSA Processing Systems, LLC, as well as James Dennison and Eric Dennison. Absolute’s affiliates Absolute Financial Services, LLC, Absolute Financial Services Recovery, LLC, and AFSR Global Logistics, LLC, were included in the Absolute settlement LLC as well as Lashone Elam and Talesia Neely.
In addition to harming consumers, bad actors can tarnish the accounts receivable industry’s reputation. Those entities that spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and financial resources to comply with applicable laws and regulations should welcome oversight to eradicate bad actors from our space. Further, legitimate businesses may be the first to learn about scammers targeting consumers; initiatives like Operation Corrupt Collector may provide a resource for good actors to report scams that cross their desks.