Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Consumer Alert:
DCA Law Office

Possible Payday Loan Collection Scam

August 8, 2011

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has received complaints from consumers regarding DCA Law Office contacting consumers at their home and work telephone numbers regarding supposedly delinquent payday loans.

In some instances, the consumer has never even applied for any kind of payday loan. In others, the consumer applied online for a payday loan but withdrew the application or it was denied. Subsequently, the consumer starts receiving collections calls.

The representatives who call on behalf of DCA Law Office make numerous and repeated harassing telephone contacts with the consumer, sometimes threatening legal action or police involvement unless the consumer pays the “outstanding debt”. The callers are also reported to have contacted consumers’ relatives or other references. These callers may identify themselves as attorneys, law enforcement officers (sometimes referencing a badge number), working for the “Legal Department” or even the “Cyberfraud Division.”

Consumers have reported that, in some instances, the caller has identifying information such as checking account information, social security information, and other nonpublic personal information. According to one consumer, the caller instructed her to fax information authorizing the payment of $1,200 to her credit card, including her credit card number, billing address, work phone, and a copy of her driver’s license. Requests to the caller to verify the debt generally result in increased threats, but the Department has been unable to locate an instance where the debt verification has been produced by the caller.

Consumers have reported that DCA Law Office is tied to various telephone numbers, including 631-772-9973 and 347-841-6902. Calls to these telephone numbers either result in a message indicating that the respondent is not available, or that the number is disconnected.

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says debt collectors must send consumers a written notice within five days of their first phone call, showing how much the consumer owes and where the debt is from. The law says collectors can not say or even imply that nonpayment is a crime. Collectors can't call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Collectors are not allowed to speak to a consumer’s employer about their debt. They are prohibited from harassing or abusing consumers and they must stop calling if the consumer asks them to.

Report Violators

These kinds of contacts should also be reported to federal law enforcement authorities. You may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation online: www.fbi.gov or by telephone: (202) 324-3000.

We also suggest contacting the Federal Trade Commission online: www.ftc.gov or toll free: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Complainants have also had some success contacting their local telephone carrier’s nuisance department to stop calls.

If the caller has indicated they may know private information, such as your Social Security number, other account numbers, or contact information for work or other associates, you should take steps to protect yourself against identity theft. There is information on the FTC website about steps to take to protect yourself from identity theft, and what to do to protect yourself in the event you are a victim of identity theft.

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