According to an article in the Star-Telegram, American Corrective Counseling Services, a debt collection company has agreed to a $2.55 million judgment to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of debtors who claimed they were wrongly led to believe they had to pay costly fees to avoid criminal charges for bouncing checks.

The article said:

“The company sent out letters as recently as last winter purporting to be from various Pennsylvania district attorneys’ offices to people who bounced checks. The letters indicated that a crime had been committed, but that the check bouncers could clear up the matter by paying off the checks and various fees and by attending a financial accountability class.”

One debtor snagged by this debt collection scam, was an elderly woman who wrote a bad check for $27.17 to Kmart.  She was ordered to pay $72.17 in fees, plus another $170 to take an “accountability” class.  The debt collection company claimed to be from the District Attorney’s office and gave the impression that if they were not paid their exorbitant fees, the check bouncer would be put into prison.  The truth of the matter is that American Corrective Counseling is only a debt collection company and doesn’t have the power to arrest anyone, nor does any other debt collection company.

If you receive a phone call or letter from someone claiming to represent the District Attorney’s office or some other government office, be careful, they may be a debt collection company. Take the time to contact your District Attorney or whatever office they’re claiming to represent before you give them any money.