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worker co-ops, local currency on PressWatch

This first link takes you to a 45-page pamphlet that tells you how to form a worker cooperative, and start making money together with your friends! Copy and paste it to your browser. pamphlet: start your own worker cooperative Here's more, on local currency: local currency: overview local currency essays More from today's presswatch: An Erie, Pennsylvania, debt collection agency has been accused of using a bogus "courtroom" and even civilians dressed up as police officers to hold "hearings" where debtors were intimidated into paying off their debts, says Pennsylvania's attorney general. In a lawsuit filed late last month, Attorney General Tom Corbett accused Unicredit America of "using deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers - including the use of bogus "hearings" allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom." According to a report at ABC channel 4 in Pittsburgh, a sign at West 39th St. in Erie informed visitors that they were at the Unicredit Debt Resolution Center. But once inside, debtors found "a pair of locked oak doors with brass handles resembling a courtroom entrance." Beyond that, the attorney general says, was [A] fake courtroom allegedly contain[ing] furniture and decorations similar to those used in actual court offices, including a raised "bench" area where a judge would be seated; two tables and chairs in front of the "bench" for attorneys and defendants; a simulated witness stand; seating for spectators; and legal books on bookshelves. During some proceedings, an individual dressed in black was seated where observers would expect to see a judge. According to the lawsuit, fictitious court proceedings were used to intimidate consumers into providing access to bank accounts, making immediate payments or surrendering vehicle titles and other assets - sometimes dispatching Unicredit employees to consumers' homes in order to retrieve documents or have consumers sign payment agreements. "This is an unconscionable attempt to use fake court proceedings to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables to Unicredit without following lawful procedures for debt collection," Corbett said. "Consumers also allegedly received dubious 'hearing notices' and letters - often hand-delivered by individuals who appear to be Sheriff Deputies - which implied they would be taken into custody by the Sheriff if they failed to appear at the phony court for 'hearings' or 'depositions'." The attorney-general is seeking $3,000 from Unicredit America for every person over 60 years of age affected by the alleged scam, and $1,000 for all other individuals. News reports indicate prosecutors don't yet know how many people were affected. Q. What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? A. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection. Q. What debts are covered? A. Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts. Q. Who is a debt collector? A. A debt collector is any person, other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. Under a 1986 amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis. Q. How may a debt collector contact you? A. A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. However, a debt collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves. Q. Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you? A. You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. Please send the letter by certified, return receipt request and keep copies of everything. Q. May a debt collector contact any person other than you concerning your debt? A. If you have an attorney, the debt collector may not contact anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than once but if they already have your phone numbers or location, there is no need to contact others.. In most cases, the collector is not permitted to tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money. Q. What is the debt collector required to tell you about the debt? A. Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money. Q. May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money? A. A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed. Make sure they follow the law. Q. What types of debt collection practices are prohibited? A. Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person. For example, debt collectors may not: * falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives. * falsely imply that you have committed a crime; * falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau; * misrepresent the amount of your debt; * misrepresent the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt; * indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; * indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are. Debt collectors also may not state that: * you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt; * they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or credit intends to do so, and it is legal to do so (garnishment is currently prohibited in South Carolina for the collection of most debts): * actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take. Debt collectors may not: * give false credit information about you to anyone; * send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; * use a false name. Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not: * collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law; * deposit a post-dated check prematurely; * make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams; * take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; * contact you by postcard. Q. Should you tape the debt collectors? A. If your state allows, you do not have to tell the debt collector you are recording them. Check the internet for a list of states allowing only one party permission. If you must tell them, don't worry. They can't help themselves and will continue with threats and abuse. BUT GET IT ON TAPE. Q. What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law? A. You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. If your win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered. Court costs and attorney's fees also can be recovered. In a class action, a group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less. .....................................................................


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