The FTC has ordered two debt sellers who posted the personal information of more than 70,000 consumers on a public website, to notify the consumers that their personal information has been compromised. In addition, the debt sellers must also tell consumers how they can protect their identities against fraud and theft for the future. Debt sellers, Brandon Lambert of Cornerstone and Company LLC in Riverside, California and Aron Tomko of Bayview Soluitons LLC in St. Petersburg, Florida are named as the defendants in the case.
The FTC alleges that the companies on two different occasions, posted the personal information of consumers on a public website. Information included consumer birthdates, contact information, employers’ names bank account and credit card numbers, birth dates, and specifics about consumer debts. The defendants allegedly placed consumer personal information in a debt collection portfolio for past-due credit cards, payday loans, and other debts. The portfolio was then posted on a publically viewable website in the form of an excel file. Even though the portfolio was posted on a website dedicated to other debt collection professionals, the files were not encrypted or protected in any way. As a result, anyone had access to the personal data, which was accessed over 500 times.
The FTC states that this lack of privacy is a violation of the FTC Act, which states that consumers have a right to privacy. Exposed consumers in the portfolio are now vulnerable to identity theft, and have also been branded as debtors to the public at large which could jeopardize their current employment or future employment opportunities. The FTC is requesting that the court make defendants halt the execution of this dangerous practice, and provide redress to consumers already affected. According to the FTC sellers are allowed to post portfolios but should hide personal identifiers that could expose consumer personal information. Debt collection schemes and mishaps happen every day that put consumers at risk. Legitimate debt collection agencies are often punished for the mistakes of others and are labelled “high risk.”
A default notice is a creditor’s letter telling you that your account with them is set to default because you have fallen behind with payments. You will normally have missed payments or paid below the minimum amount required for between three and six months before you will receive a default notice.
The notice should give a fortnight or more to get up-to-date with your payments but if you cannot do this the creditor will default your account. This process of default notices only applies in the case of debts that are Consumer Credit Act regulated. These include hire purchase, personal loans, payday loans, store cards and credit cards.
What Happens Next?
If your account defaults your creditor will ask for the full amount of the debt to be paid. They may accept repayment of this in instalments but this is not always the case.
If you do not pay the debt, your creditor may take court action, pass the debt over to a specialist collection agency or apply for the court’s commission to take back hire purchase goods.
The Effects of a Default
Even if you repay the debt completely, a default will stay on your credit record for six years and can affect other lenders’ decisions if you decide to apply for more credit.
Some creditors will not even consider your application if there is a default on your file, whilst others will lend but with a higher rate of interest. According to the Step Change debt charity creditors will become less interested in a default with the passage of time.
Experts advise that any default notice should be taken as a serious sign that your debts may be a problem. If this is the case, you can source free debt advice from charities such as Step Change and the National Debtline, look at an IVA from Carrington Dean, or consider other IVA or alternative solutions to get your finances back on track.
Whatever route you choose to take, it is important not to bury your head in the sand. A default notice does not have to mean a life sentence on your finances but it can signal the start of greater problems if you fail to heed the warning and take positive action to turn your finances around.
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