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Miss. debt collectors agree to settlement with FTC

NEW YORK (AP) -- A debt buyer and debt collection law firm based in Mississippi have agreed to pay nearly $800,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges they misled consumers into paying unnecessary fees and falsely threatened them with lawsuits.

The FTC said Tuesday that debt buyer Security Credit Services LLC and Jacob Law Group PLLC charged consumers nationwide a fee for payments authorized by telephone, but didn't charge a fee to those who paid by mail or online. The FTC said the defendants led consumers to believe that the fee was unavoidable and also falsely threatened to sue consumers to get them to pay the fee. The defendants collected at least $799,958 in fees from consumers since 2008, according to the FTC.

Security Credit buys consumer debt accounts and contracts with Jacob Law to collect on them. The FTC said that the defendants violated the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Aside from the $800,000 payment, Security Credit and Jacob Law are barred from making any misrepresentations when collecting a debt, including false claims that consumers must pay an extra fee when making payments on a debt or that they will be sued for not paying a debt.