The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled its complaint against Centro Natural Corp. and Sumor LLC who used international telemarketers to call Spanish speaking Americans threatening them with arrest if they did not pay non-existent debts.  Under the terms of the settlement, the two companies are banned from further debt collection and telemarketing activities.  The FTC is refunding funds  to the victims of the scam.  Victims should get their checks shortly and must deposit their checks within 60 days.

TIPS

If you were a victim of this scam and receive a check from the FTC, you must cash the check within sixty days of the date of the mailing.  You do not need to provide any personal information or pay any fee in order to be eligible for this refund.  Anyone asking for such information or asking for such a fee is just another scammer.  If you have questions about this case you can contact the FTC’s refund administrator at 1-844-499-3585.

Subject to strict federal laws, legitimate debt collectors are permitted to call debtors, however, the law prohibits them from threatening imprisonment for the failure to pay a debt.  It can be difficult to know when someone calls attempting to collect a debt if indeed they are legitimate or not, so the best course of action if you receive such a call is to not discuss the debt with the person calling, but instead demand that they send you a written “validation notice” by regular mail which describes the debt they allege you owe and includes a listing of your rights under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Never give personal information over the phone to anyone who calls you attempting to collect a debt.  You can never be sure who they are.  If you receive the validation notice and it appears to be legitimate, you may be better off contacting your creditor directly because the person who called you may not be representing the creditor, but may merely have information about the debt.