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FOR RELEASE:  MAY 26, 1992


               DEBT COLLECTOR AGREES TO PAY $100,000
     TO SETTLE FTC CHARGES OF HARASSING, THREATENING CONSUMERS


     Credit Claims & Collections, a debt-collection company, has
agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade
Commission charges that it harassed and threatened consumers from
whom it was attempting to collect debts for clients.  According to
the FTC complaint, Credit Claims employees allegedly used obscene
language, threatened to use violence, contacted consumers at their
jobs, let the telephone ring repeatedly at their homes, and
falsely implied that they were affiliated with the government,
among other alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (FDCPA).

     In addition to the civil penalty, the proposed consent decree
to settle the FTC charges includes broad prohibitions on future
FDCPA violations, and would require Credit Claims to inform -- in
writing -- the consumers it contacts that Federal law prohibits a
debt collector from harassing them.

     The FTC complaint names Nationwide Credit, Inc., doing busi-
ness as Credit Claims & Collections, of Atlanta, Georgia.  In
addition to the above alleged violations of the FDCPA, the FTC
charged that, on numerous occasions, Credit Claims employees have,
in violation of the act:

     -- contacted consumers directly when they knew the consumer
     was represented by an attorney with respect to the debt at
     issue:

                             - more -
Credit Claims--05/26/92)

     -- called consumers at work when they knew the consumers'
     employers prohibited such calls;

     -- continued to call consumers after receiving a written
     request to cease communications;

     -- talked with third parties about something other than
     locating consumers, without consumers' consent;

     -- falsely implied that they were attorneys, and that failure
     to pay the debt could result in arrest, imprisonment, or
     garnishment of wages;

     -- threatened to take action -- such as filing a lawsuit,
     getting the consumer fired, or communicating with law-
     enforcement officials -- when they did not intend to do so;

     -- solicited postdated checks in order to threaten or insti-
     tute criminal prosecution, and then deposited or threatened
     to deposit postdated checks prior to the date on the checks;
     and

     -- continued to try to collect debts after consumers disputed
     them in writing, and before the defendants verified the
     debts.

     The FDCPA prohibits abusive, deceptive and unfair debt-col-
lection practices.  For example, under the FDCPA, a debt collec-
tion agency may contact any person in attempting to locate a
consumer from whom it is trying to collect a debt but, in most 
cases, cannot refer to the debt in any way during the conversation
and cannot contact that person more than once; nor can debt
collectors identify themselves as such on the outside of envelopes
mailed to consumers, use postcards, or advertise a consumer's
debt.  Also, debt collectors cannot make false statements or use
false names, threaten to take legal action they do not intend to
take, or call consumers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless they
know that it is not objectionable to the consumer.

     In addition to the $100,000 civil penalty and permanent
injunctions against further violations of the FDCPA, the proposed
consent decree settling the FTC charges against Credit Claims
would require that whenever Credit Claims communicates in writing
with a consumer, it must include the following clear and conspic-
uous disclosure:

     "Federal law prohibits a debt collector from harassing
     you about a debt and gives you the right to stop it when
     it happens.  However, if you owe the debt, you will
     still owe it and your creditor may continue to collect
     it from you in a proper manner..."

Credit Claims--05/26/92)

     The required disclosure goes on to tell consumers how to
learn more about their rights under the FDCPA by writing for a
free brochure, and instructions them to complain to the FTC if
they believe these rights have been violated.  The FTC will review
any such complaints as it monitors Credit Claims' compliance with
the decree.

     The FTC's brochure explaining the FDCPA is available free by
writing:  FTC, Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and
Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222;
TTY 202-326-2502.

     The proposed consent decree was filed on May 22 by the
Department of Justice at the request of the FTC.  It is subject to
court approval.

NOTE:  This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and
does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law
violation.  Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by
the judge.

     Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree are
available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch at the above
address.

                               # # #

MEDIA CONTACT:      Bonnie Jansen, Office of Public Affairs
                    202-326-2161

STAFF CONTACT:      Paul K. Davis, Atlanta Regional Office
                    1718 Peachtree Avenue N.W., Room 1000
                    Atlanta, Georgia  30367
                    404-347-4836

(Civil Action No. 1-92-CV-1219-MHS)
(ccc)

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