ACM issues warnings against debt collection agencies Lootsma & Partners, Smits & Co and Inter Payment Service
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has issued a warning against the practices of debt collection agencies Lootsma & Partners, Deurwaarder Smits & Co and Inter Payment Service. They pressure consumers into paying bills for unjust claims. Through consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, ACM has received reports about these debt collection agencies. Since these are currently active, and pressuring consumers into paying, ACM has issued warnings against these companies. These companies are part of the network of debt collection agencies against which ACM already issued warnings before. Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “We have issued these warnings in order to prevent more consumers from being harmed.”
Aggressive debt collection practices
The reports filed with ConsuWijzer reveal that the abovementioned debt collection agencies contact consumers over the phone and by email, and pressure them into paying outstanding bills for holidays, for example. In most cases, no contracts have been signed at all, rendering the claim unjust. In some cases, the agencies cite allegedly signed contracts from years ago. They claim that the consumer is required to pay, and subsequently pressure them into paying. They threaten to take drastic measures such as attachment of property or bank accounts, or to enter their homes with a locksmith in order to take possession of their belongings if the consumer does not pay on time. Debt collection agencies do not even have the powers to take such measures. Only official bailiffs have the power to take possession of assets, after court approval. ACM designates pressuring people into paying unjust claims and threatening with powers that debt collection agencies do not even have, statutorily speaking, as aggressive commercial practices.
Consumer advisory: do not pay
These debt collection agencies seek to collect unjust claims. Since no legally valid contracts are assumed to have been concluded, ACM’s advisory to consumers is not to pay these invoices, even if these debt collection agencies pressure them into doing so.
Network of fraudulent debt collection agencies
ACM had previously already warned against a network of debt collection agencies that approach consumers in a similar fashion. ACM has observed that Lootsma & Partners, Deurwaarder Smits & Co and Inter Payment Service are part of this network of debt-collection agencies that, using different names, compel payment of unjust claims. These three debt collection agencies are not registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, even though this is required for all companies that are active in the Netherlands. ACM additionally emphasizes that Deurwaarder Smits & Co is not an official bailiff. Furthermore, the data on the websites of these debt collection agencies are not correct.
Lootsma & Partners and Inter Payment Service ask consumers to wire money to non-Dutch bank accounts, in the name of British Trans Asia. Debt collection agency Deurwaarder Smits & Co collects for Trip Abroad, All Great Dealz, Euroloterij, Ecodienst, Shoppendoejezo, Veiligwinkelen.nl, Hotelcheque, Fly Away, Shop and Fly, and Buy to Fly.
ACM recently imposed a fine on DeReisPlanner for the collection of unjust claims. It is presumed that this company is not part of this particular network, but it does use the same methods.
Filing a report with ConsuWijzer
ACM welcomes reports from consumers about debt-collection agencies. They can be filed with its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer.
- 30-04-2019 Decision regarding warning against debt collection agency Lootsma & Partners (in Dutch)
- 30-04-2019 Decision regarding warning against debt collection agency Inter Payment Service (in Dutch)
- 30-04-2019 Decision regarding warning against debt collection agency Smits & Co (in Dutch)
- 12-02-2019 ACM warns about network of aggressive debt-collection agencies