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Buffalo debt collection company could be shut

New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday announced the filing of felony charges against the owner of a Buffalo debt collection company that targeted military personnel and their families.

Stephanie Lowinger of Anderson Place, Buffalo, faces up to four years in prison on each count. She and her companies are charged with first-degree scheme to defraud. Lowinger is the owner and operator of Neimen, Rona & Associates, fka Morgan, Stone & Associates and now known as Gordon, Cappolli & Associates, all debt collection companies based in the Buffalo area.

Among the allegations detailed in Cuomo’s court papers, Lowinger and her collectors falsely claimed to be lawyers, investigators, detectives and mediators; threatened consumers with arrest, jail, lawsuits and asset seizure; and inflated the amount allegedly owed.

They’re also accused of trying to collect debts while not knowing whether they actually were owed; wrongfully disclosing the existence of alleged debts to family members, trying to collect from them; harassing consumers through repeated and constant calls, using abusive language; and levying unauthorized charges on their credit card accounts.

Cuomo says military service members can be vulnerable targets for abusive debt collection practices since their status, rank, or security clearance can be adversely affected by failure to pay. Complaints include unauthorized calls to commanding officers and threats of arrest by military police, a dishonorable discharge, loss of security status and court martial.

The website explains consumers’ rights, links to help for filing complaints and outlines the stages of the investigation.