ACA International, the trade association for debt collectors, and DBA International, a group that represents debt buyers, issued statements Wednesday commending federal prosecutors for bringing down a large debt collection scam operation.

Federal officials with the Justice Department and FBI announced Tuesday the arrest of seven people with the firm Williams, Scott and Associates (WSA) for their roles in a fraudulent debt collection operation that over the course of five years targeted more than 6,000 consumers in all 50 states and brought in more than $4.1 million.

Both ACA and DBA noted that scams like this do significant harm to consumers and that subsequent stories about the cases have the potential to harm the ARM industry.

“Deceitful scams harm consumers and damage legitimate and ethical debt collection efforts,” said ACA CEO Pat Morris. “Our members are committed to compliance with the law and ethical means of collecting consumer debts. Unfortunately, fraud still occurs on a rare occasion. Those who purposely violate the law should be held fully accountable for their actions.”

“This case highlights how abusive and illegal practices employed by one company can shed a negative light on an entire industry,” said DBA International Executive Director Jan Stieger. “DBA International supports legal and regulatory actions against companies that prey on consumers, which is why we created our national certification program.”

ACA focused on its educational outreach programs for consumers through its Ask Doctor Debt website and noted that it “condemns fraudulent, abusive and unethical debt collection practices, and applauds government efforts to investigate and prosecute debt collection scams.”

DBA said that its efforts to police its members includes the launch of its Debt Buyer Certification Program, which “stresses responsible consumer protection, increased transparency and improved educational and operational standards within the industry, in addition to adhering to all state and federal laws and regulations.”

Both organizations took the opportunity to remind consumers and regulators that the ARM industry fills a vital role in the credit-based economy of the U.S.

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