Defendants in a debt collection operation that allegedly sought payment for bogus magazine subscription debts have settled with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC alleged in its complaint that the defendants knew, or should have known, that some ofthe magazine subscription debts they were collecting were not valid. The defendants, who handle collection of hundreds of thousands of accounts each year, violated the FTC Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, according to the complaint.

The proposed settlement order, filed by the Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf, bars Luebke Baker and Associates, Inc., Kevin Luebke, and other defendants from representing that a consumer owes a debt without having a reasonable basis to do so, and from making any other misrepresentations when collecting debts or selling goods and services.  It also requires the defendants to conduct a reasonable investigation when a consumer disputes a debt or when the defendants otherwise have reason to question whether the debt is valid.

Under the proposed settlement order, when the defendants attempt to collect debts, they must provide consumers with disclosures about their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The proposed order also requires the defendants to inform their collection employees of their personal obligations under the Act.

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