Dear Debt Collectors: Using This Envelope Will Only Get You In Trouble With The FTC

We hope the FTC uses this envelope to send a bill for the $1 billion settlement to these debt collectors.

We hope the FTC uses this envelope to send a bill for the $1 billion settlement to these debt collectors.

Remember that rundown of debt-collection practices that violate federal law? Here’s one to add to the list: When sending debt collection notices to consumers, don’t use an envelope that depicts a man being turned upside-down and having his pockets emptied.

The above envelope was actually used by the morons at National Attorney Collection Services, Inc., and National Attorney Services LLC, two companies — both owned by the same king moron — that have recently agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $1 million over violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the FTC Act.

See, it’s against the law for the debt collector to publicly disclose someone’s private debts, as doing so could endanger their jobs and reputations. Thus, mailing envelopes can include only the name and address of the company, and cannot indicate that the consumer may owe a debt.

The artwork on this envelope — which looks to me like it was clipped from something depicting a taxpayer being shaken down — goes too far in telling the world, “Hey, the recipient of this letter owes us a debt and had better pay up,” says the FTC.

“No matter how debt collectors communicate with consumers – by mail, by phone, by text or some other way – they have to follow the law,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC has a zero tolerance policy for deception.”

It’s not just the decor on the envelope that got these companies in trouble with the government. The FTC says that these businesses falsely portrayed themselves as law firms, using names like National Attorney Services, National Attorney Service, National Attorney, and for the Spanish-speakers out there, Abogados Nacionales. They also falsely threatened to sue consumers for not paying their debts or to garnish their wages, which is a no-no.

This is also the first action taken by the FTC against a debt collector who used text messages to contact consumers.