If you begin receiving calls or letters related to a debt with Consolidated Media Services or Luebke Baker & Associates, you should proceed with caution. All of these firms are no longer in business and each was also sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and other federal laws.
The FDCPA is a FTC-enforced federal law that provides consumer protections against unlawful, unethical, and otherwise disreputable and harmful practices by debt collection agents and firms.
Consolidated Media Services (CMS)
This company, which also operated under the name of Cross Media Marketing Corporation and Media Outsourcing Inc., went out of business in 2003. CMS was a magazine subscription telemarketing company based out of New York but did business across the nation. When still operating, CMS was the subject of thousands of formal consumer complaints regarding its telemarketing, billing, and collections activities.
The firm filed bankruptcy in 2003 prior to closing down for good. The bankruptcy petition followed a 2003 FTC and Justice Department investigation and ruling on the company’s telemarketing and billing practices. In this lawsuit, CMS was found to have violated multiple federal laws and was ordered to pay $1.1 million in damages.
Although the company was no longer in operation, other debt collection firms continued to attempt to collect on what they claimed were CMS debts, including a firm by the name of Luebke, Baker, & Associates.
Luebke Baker & Associates*
This company settled an FTC lawsuit for $3.1 million in 2012 for FDCPA violations that included harassment, misrepresentation, and collecting on false debts. The firm was additionally found guilty of violating telemarketing regulations and other federal laws. Many of the fake debts Luebke Baker attempted to collect were attributed to magazine subscriptions supposedly sold to consumers by CMS.
Luebke, Baker, & Associates was an Illinois-based collection agency but did business in multiple states, including Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Mississippi, and California, among others. The 2012 FTC lawsuit placed stringent injunctions on this collection agency, and later that same year, Luebke Baker ceased operations.
Next Steps if You’re Contacted by a Collection Company
If you receive letters, phone calls, or other communications from a collection agency, your first step is to send a “cease and desist” letter to the collector. This letter is a formal notice that you request the debt collector to stop all communications. If the debt collector fails to heed your request, they are in violation of FDCPA regulations.
Additional steps you can take to protect your rights include:
- Hiring an attorney
- Reporting the debt collector to the state Attorney General
- Reporting the violation of FDCPA to the FTC
- Filing a lawsuit in state and federal courts
Debt collectors found guilty of FDCPA violations may owe you $1,000. You can potentially recover other damages, including legal fees, pain and suffering damages, and court costs.
*According to the FTC
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Consolidated Media Services, Luebke, Baker, & Associates, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.