Minnesota attorney general sues Jamaican company for "phantom" debt calls


The state of Minnesota is suing a business based in Jamaica that it alleges threatened Minnesotans with arrests and lawsuits if they did not pay debts that weren't real.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Global Gateway Solutions Inc., which also does business as First Recovery Associates, Northwest Recovery Associates and National Recovery Associates, after the office received numerous complaints from citizens saying they had been bullied by calls from the company.

"Phony collectors aggressively pursue collection of fake debts," Swanson said in a statement. "These calls can be unsettling, but people shouldn't be intimidated into paying a debt they don't owe."

Global Gateway employees repeatedly called an elderly St. Cloud couple to demand they pay off a loan of $400 and also threatened to sue a Brooklyn Park woman if she did not pay off a payday loan within a couple of days from a company she'd never heard of. The woman ended up paying the nearly $400 only to receive more calls from the company on another fake debt.

Some people reported the company called them repeatedly, sometimes multiple times a day and even reached out to relatives and co-workers to try to get them to pay debts they did not owe.

A call to Global Gateway was answered on Tuesday, but the person who answered said an executive who was authorized to discuss the situation wasn't available. No further response came from the company by late in the day.

Under the law, a debt collector is required to provide verification of a debt and let people know they can dispute a debt, both of which Global Gateway did not do, the attorney general's office said.

The office warned that if a resident receives a call from someone saying he or she is a collector for an unknown debt, the resident should end the call and contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce to determine if the company is licensed. The "collector" should also be asked to give written verification of the debt. Complaints can be filed with the Commerce Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the attorney general's office.

Residents are warned to watch for red flags such as threats from a "collector" to have someone arrested for not paying a debt.

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