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California Debt Collector Shut Down by FTC: Bolling & Associates

A California debt collection business, operating under the name of Bolling & Associates was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission September 24, 2011:
Federal Trade Commission v. Forensic Case Management et al, United States District Court, C.D. Ca. case LACV11-7484; Preliminary Injunction order signed by Hon. R. Gary Klausner.

The allegations in the complaint are fairly hair-raising. The defendants were alleged to have abused both the debtors they were seeking to collect against and the creditors for whom they were collecting. They allegedly harassed and threatened debtors, insulted them with vile language, and even threatened to desecrate the graves of their deceased loved-ones.

Creditors were allegedly promised that accounts would be collected strictly on a contingency fee basis - that is, the collection agency would only be paid a percentage of the money actually collected - only to be hit up with fees for alleged legal services, and, allegedly, the agent sometimes did not forward to the creditor client all of their share of collected money. The FTC complaint alleges that these actions violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 USC Section 45, by engaging in misleading or deceptive acts or practices.

The allegations of violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 USC Sections 1692-1692p, are particularly gruesome. This act protects debtors from unfair, aggravating and fraudulent collection practices. The collection agency allegedly threatened legal actions repeatedly, with no intention of actually commencing a lawsuit, a violation of FDCPA.

Defendants allegedly called debtors repeatedly, even after being told to stop calling, and also talked with third parties about the collection of debts, also violations of FDCPA. Defendants are also alleged to have insulted debtors, screaming insults such as " "deadbeat, " "sheepfl'*ker, " "goatf**ker, " "white trash," "piece of crap," "crackerhead," "scumbag, " "lowlife," and "a**hole" " (quoting from paragraph 39 of the FTC complaint.)

Physical harm to debtors, their mother, or their dog, was also allegedly threatened, according to paragraph 40 of the complaint. The next paragraph of the complaint illustrated the allegations in graphic detail:

41) For example, Defendants, using the trade name Rumson, Bolling & Associates, attempted to collect from a consumer who was unable to pay the balance due for her daughter's funeral. During the calls, Rumson, Bolling & Associates told her they were going to dig her daughter up and hang her from a tree, if she did not pay the debt. They also threatened to have her "dog arrested .... shoot him up and ... eat him," and to send the sheriff to her home to arrest her. And they called her vulgar names, including "deadbeat piece of crap crackerhead" and "white trash." They also threatened to kill her: "are you going to pay this bill right now ... or am I going to have to kill you?"

The order shutting down the businesses cite two volumes of evidence submitted in support of the application. All assets of the businesses are frozen, and a receiver has been appointed to take charge of the assets. The defendants' application to release funds for attorney fees and living expenses was denied.

Bolling & Associates or its affiliates is also known as Forensic Case Management; Commercial Investigations, Inc.; Commercial Recovery Solutions; Specialized Recovery Inc.; Commercial Receivables Acquisition, Inc.; and The Forwarding Company)

I wish to acknowledge my appreciation to Jeffrey Freedman, Esq. for bringing this case to my attention.

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