I received a voice-mail from someone that said he was with "the Utah state department of fraud" and said that they have several formal complaints against me and if I don't call within 72 hours i will be served a subpoena to appear before a federal judge and be arraigned on criminal charges. I returned the call and was told that it was regarding a Payday loan that i couldn't pay a few years ago. I asked the person the name of his agency and he said that they are a company called Nationwide Processing working with the state fraud office. I then asked if he could tell me what criminal law i had broken and he wouldn't give me a straight answer. Can criminal charges be for not paying a payday loan in Utah or is this a scam?
On a second call from the same person he said that if I don't pay within the 72 hours a Sheriff's deputy will come to my home and escort me to the courthouse.
Google the Utah Department of Fraud and you will get nothing on point. You cannot be arrested for failing to pay a loan. This is a tactic typical of payday loan collectors. This is not a Federal issue, so the federal judge claim is bogus as well. Talk to a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act attorney to see how you can keep records that might give you a cause of action. For the most part, these collectors will not do anything that might get a court to consider their tactics. I bet that you will not be able to find anything about the collector that would give you a clue as to who they are or how you could sue them.
They are likely a scam debt collector. Click on "READ ME AND FEEL SAFE" below for more information. I'd also be more than willing to talk to you for free! - Jeffrey Hyslip
I am an attorney licensed to practice law in Ohio and some Federal Courts throughout the United States. I am not answering your question to solicit you as a client and there is a good chance that I am not licensed to practice law in the state that you reside. I hope that you find my assistance beneficial and, at most, use my advise as a finger pointing in the right direction. An attorney client relationship is not established by posting back and forth online. One of the most beneficial aspects of working with an attorney is the attorney client privilege which does not exist when you post personal facts online to faceless strangers. Hire an attorney if you want specific legal advise. If you cannot afford one, call your local bar association or search "(your city) legal aid" online. The fact that you took the time to post your question online likely means that you could use the aid of an attorney. Call around your area and see if any local attorneys offer free consultations.
You wrote, " I then asked if he could tell me what criminal law i had broken and he wouldn't give me a straight answer."
A: Never expect a straight answer from a crooked man.
I agree with the other answers you have received, particularly Mr. Walton's. The attempt to collect could either be on a legitimate debt or could be a scam. If you had a payday loan in the last six years this is probably an unscrupulous attempt to collect what may be a valid debt. Still, there is no question that their conduct violates the FDCPA. I have seen problems of this sort with debt collectors who were either outside the United States or were located inside of an Indian reservation.
The problem is that enforcing the FDCPA against them is difficult and can only be done if you can obtain their contact information in a way sufficient to sue them. Perhaps requesting their mailing address for payment (likely to be a PO Box) and then seeking who registered that address could yield this information.
Although it may not do much for you, it may be that the best you can do is to contact the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and make a complaint. http://consumerprotection.utah.gov/complaints/manual.html
Providing this answer does not form an attorney-client relationship. Most legal questions are exceedingly fact-sensitive and therefore this answer is a best-guess based on the information you provide. You should consult an attorney licensed in your state to further discuss your matter.
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
Payday loan companies are notorious for not following the proper collection procedures. Although they may have standing to file a lawsuit, for the most part they do not file suit. Instead they rely upon threats of arbitration, predatory lending practices, high interest rates, and harassing collection tactics. For example, they often threaten criminal action contrary to state and Federal collection practice laws. Note, there are no debtor prisons in the United States; you cannot be imprisoned for not paying a debt.
You should begin the process of protecting yourself by sending a certified mailing to the payday loan company asking for validation of that debt which includes a request for a copy of any contract. The letter should also ask for an accounting of all charges and payments to date on the account. Demand that they cease and desist from any collection communications. Finally, if you dispute any portion of their debt (or their interest rates), inform them that you also dispute that debt. You can find sample debt validation/dispute letters on the internet. Keep a journal and record any and all communications efforts that come after receipt of that letter as they might be in violation of the law; which could be used to argue that they have waived their right to collect the debt. This includes phone calls, emails, missed calls, letters, etc.
A word of caution, these efforts won’t eliminate any debt obligation (it might even incur further penalties and interest) but, in theory, it should stop the debt collector from harassing you and will serve as a basis of possibly identifying future violations in collection practice laws. Note, however, payday loan companies rely upon a belief that they have immunity from collection laws due to their status as sovereign tribal Indian nations. It is this belief that empowers them to violate these collection laws. In order to take any action against you, they would essentially need to step off the reservation or hire a locally licensed collection company or law firm to go to Court. It is those persons (i.e. the local debt collectors) who might become liable for the unfair collection practice violations.
You can also try the state attorney general’s office for guidance as well as the Federal Trade Commission. If you sue for harassment and succeed, I would suggest that you have your attorney attempt to execute on their intangible personal property (i.e. their website domain name). This should be subject to execution in most states and the loss of the website could be devastati0ong to their business operations.
I would be happy to discuss this with you in greater detail, feel free to call or e-mail
Stew Crawford, Jr., Esq.
Crawford Law Firm
A Full Service Law Firm Serving Pennsylvania & New Jersey
Philadelphia Area Office
223 North Monroe Street
Media, Pennsylvania 19063
All information provided in this comment is intended for informational purposes only and does not, by itself, create an attorney client relationship. Without the benefit a personal consultation to exploe all of the facts of your legal problem, the information in this posting may be inaccurate and for that reason it should not be relied upon. If you wish to consult with an attorney, or have any questions concerning this comment, please feel free to contact our offices through any of the above contact sources.