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Debt Collector Will Write Off $3 Million of Debts, Close Doors

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The Georgia Consumer Protection Office ordered an Atlanta-area debt collector to shut down his business and stay out of the industry for five years following numerous consumer complaints about the company’s practices and its alleged use of illegal debt-collection techniques, according to the Daily Report. Earnest Earvin IV, owner of Zenith Financial Group, agreed to get out of the collections business for five years, and he will be subject to a $460,000 penalty if he violates the agreement.

According to complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau (33 were filed and resolved in the past three years), the company is accused of calling consumers and threatening them with arrest, criminal charges and physical violence if they don’t pay the debts, many of which consumers claim are not legitimate in the first place. Zenith Financial Group has an F rating with the BBB.

As part of the agreement with the consumer protection office, Earvin and Zenith will no longer attempt to collect on more than $3.1 million in supposed debts, in addition to paying $15,000 in penalties, according to the Daily Report. (The total penalty is $460,000: $15,000 now and $445,000 immediately coming due if Earvin violates the agreement.)

The phone number for Zenith Financial Group is out of service, and an email to the company seeking comment was returned as undeliverable.

The things Zenith is accused of doing — attempting to collect debts that have already been paid, threatening consumers, calling borrowers at all hours and pursuing debts on which the statute of limitations have expired — are common complaints consumers have about the debt collection industry. When dealing with debt collectors, its crucial for consumers to familiarize themselves with their rights, and doing so can help them identify and put an end to any illegal collection tactics they may experience.

The first thing to do when you hear from a debt collector is ask them to verify the debt in writing so you can determine whether or not you have to repay it. Once you know what you’re dealing with — where the debt originated, how much you owe (if you legally owe anything at all) and who you have to pay — immediately put together a plan for addressing the debt, because the longer you put it off, the messier (and more expensive) the resolution can get. You can keep tabs on what’s being reported about you by checking your credit reports regularly. You’re entitled to your free annual credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get a free credit report summary from Credit.com, updated monthly, to watch for changes.

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  • guest

    Trifling compared to the vast majority that continue to run virtually wild and unregulated. This article is a proverbial foot note in the microcosm of footnotes………

  • Ryan C.

    Recently here in northern California a school by the name of heald business schools closed all there campuses. A debt collection agency bought a debt of mine from one semester back in 2008 additionally I had an issue with this because I had withdrawaled by the time indicated necessary to not be charged for the classes. neverless this agency has been trying to collect from me. how can I find out whether whether or not I still owe this debt to the collector and it’s so how can I dispute it if the school is now closed its doors?
    Thanks for your time.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Is this a private loan? If so it sounds like it is outside the statute of limitations which means they may try to collect but you can tell them to stop contacting you.

      First, confirm that it is not a federal loan by checking the National Student Loan Data System website. If it’s a federal loan, then the information above doesn’t apply because there is no statute of limitations for federal student loans. If it is a federal loan, then I recommend you consult with an attorney familiar with student loan debt issues who can help you determine if it’s is legitimate. You can locate one via TheStudentLoanLawyer.com or the website of The National Association of Consumer Advocates.

      If it is a private student loan you can dispute the debt in writing and tell the collection agency that the debt is too old and not to contact you again. Read this article:
      7 Things You Need to Know About the Statutes of Limitation for Debt

  • Andy Hooper

    That it 15k in fines – that is it for all the money they made on people! Wow! That Judge failed to give proper justice. What about those making the calls?

  • HandymanRon

    Current fine is much too low. Old debt can be purchased for 10 cents on the dollar and collected in full from those who are ignorant of their rights, meaning this company could have made hundreds of thousands of dollars already on technically ‘uncollectable’ debt. I’ve always told my children, “If you don’t know what your rights are, you don’t have any.” This not only applies to credit laws but to renter’s law, consumer law, etc.

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