Ill. AG sues payday loan collection agency

Nick Rees Jan. 23, 2009, 12:11pm

Lisa Madigan (D)

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) -- Deceptive collecting practices and threatening and abusive language used while attempt to collect debts on behalf of payday loan companies have lead to a lawsuit against a Jacksonville, Fla., collection agency.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed the lawsuit in Wabash County against United Processing, Inc., and Lisa Waters, its president and director, for allegedly threatening debtors, communicating private information to debtor's employers and operating without the proper state licensing in Illinois.

"These defendants used malicious tactics to bully alleged debtors, their family members, and even their employers," Madigan said. "This case is an egregious example of the unscrupulous methods often used to collect debts. These methods violate consumers' rights and certainly will not be tolerated in Illinois."

In the complaint filed against United Processing, Inc., it is alleged that its employees, including some who misrepresented themselves as lawyers, made false threats to callers.

The company allegedly made threats that the local sheriff would arrest the debtor, that the state's child welfare agency would remove the debtor's children and that the debtor would be charged criminally and face a minimum two year federal prison term, the attorney general's office said.

United Processing, Inc.'s employees are also alleged to have used abusive language to people who refused to disclose the whereabouts of a debtor and, in some situations, disclosed private information about alleged debtors to their employers and other individuals related to the debtor.

Madigan is seeking a permanent injunction against the company, barring it from engaging in debt collection services in Illinois.

A court order is also sought in the suit to order the defendants to pay fees, franchise taxes and penalties for failing to obtain approval to operate in Illinois as an out-of-state corporation and file the legally-required documents.

A civil penalty of $50,000 is being sought as well as an additional $50,000 for each act committed with intent to defraud. The costs for investigating and prosecuting the case are also being sought.

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