Washington, DC - The Federal Trade Commission is sending refund checks totaling more than $516,000 to 3,977 consumers as the result of a settlement with the operators of a debt collection scheme that allegedly tricked people into paying money for debts they did not owe. The average refund amount is $129.

The FTC alleged that the operators of Advanced Mediation Group used false claims and threats to get people to pay debts they did not owe or that the defendants had no authority to collect. The defendants told consumers that they committed crimes and would be sued, have their wages garnished, or be put in prison if they did not pay purported debts. In many instances, the defendants collected on debts that consumers had already paid or that the defendants otherwise had no authority to collect. They also illegally contacted consumers’ employers and other third parties, and failed to provide written notices and disclaimers required by law.

Consumers who receive a check from the FTC should deposit or cash the checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check.

The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. If recipients have questions about the refunds, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Rust Consulting, Inc., at 877-465-4816.