Accusations that a debt collection firm, Unicredit Debt Resolution Center, is using fake a courtroom, judges and sheriffs to coerce debtors into revealing their bank account numbers and signing over the title of their cars to pay delinquent debts has the attorney general's office in Pennsylvania steaming.
A sign in the front of a building on West 39th Street tells visitors that it's the Unicredit Debt Resolution Center in Erie.
Once debtors got inside, they were fooled into believing they were in a courtroom with a judge, but the whole thing was a fake, according to a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania attorney general.
Inside the building is a pair of locked oak doors with brass handles resembling a courtroom entrance. The company is accused in the lawsuit of building a mock courtroom complete with a judge's bench and witness stand.
This is probably one of the most brazen and disgusting incidents of debt collector fraud that has ever surfaced. But we warned debtors back in 2008 that it was going to get ugly once debt collectors realized that debtors really had no money to pay their debts. How many of these debtors are now facing eviction or foreclosure because they wiped out their bank accounts and turned over their vehicle they needed to get to work, just so they could pay a credit card bill or some other unsecured debt? Debt collectors do not have the right to use deception or intimidation to collect on a debt . That is illegal! And no debtor is required to put themselves in harm's way by liquidating all of their assets just so they can pay a debt.
This is why we have bankruptcy. Bankruptcy exists so that debtors who choose to can liquidate non-exempt assets and repay as much of their debts as possible while discharging the rest. Remember, if you are being threatened with imprisonment because you have failed to pay a debt, you are probably being scammed by a debt collector. Do not go anywhere with anyone threatening to put you in jail over an unpaid debt. If you are unsure, call the police or sheriff's department before going with anyone claiming to represent the law.