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Debt collector will shut down ’courtroom’



Published: Wed, November 3, 2010 @ 8:39 a.m.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A northwestern Pennsylvania debt collector has agreed to cease collection tactics the state says included a sham courtroom where customers would be summoned.

Unicredit America Inc. agreed Tuesday to stop sending letters to consumers threatening them with arrest if they failed to respond. Erie County Judge Michael Dunlavey also ordered the mock courtroom torn down within 30 days.

The state attorney general’s office says Unicredit used people appearing to be sheriff’s deputies to deliver hearing notices to consumers and used fake court proceedings to get money from them. Authorities say a person dressed in black would preside from behind a raised bench at the front of the room.

The state has also filed a civil suit against Unicredit alleging unfair trade practices. That suit seeks civil penalties for hundreds of affected consumers.


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