CBS Atlanta News began investigating internet loan companies doing business in Georgia after Amber Middlebrooks said one of those businesses threatened to throw her in jail if she failed to pay back her debt.
"They acted as if they were Fulton County Sheriff Department and that I had been frauding checks throughout the city of Atlanta," Middlebrooks said.
She took out a $600 loan with Plain Green seven months ago to help pay for school.
Then she said she received a phone call last month from someone who told her to call Progressive Loans and pay back her debt or else she would be arrested.
"He said, 'Hi, we have you down her for frauding checks in the city of Atlanta, and if you don't call this number,' which was to Progressive Loan, 'then we're going to come and lock you up,'" Middlebrooks said.
Middlebrooks called Progressive immediately and paid back the loan in order to fend off the threat. Then she called Atlanta Legal Aid to complain.
"It is clearly illegal under the Fair Debt Practices Act to threaten to throw someone in jail for a civil debt," Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Kimberly Charles said.
CBS Atlanta News called both Plain Green and Progressive.
A representative for Progressive said the two companies work together to collect loans. Sen. Vincent Fort responded to our findings.
"Will the legislature do anything to try and address these internet loan companies now?" CBS Atlanta News reporter Adam Murphy asked.
"I think that as soon as I leave this interview, I'm going to start making some calls to see if these loan companies could be considered in violation of any state laws as they exist now," Fort said.
Fort said payday loan companies are already illegal in Georgia and now he will look at what can be done about similar companies online.
"I'm afraid, they have my Social, my identity and now they can do whatever they want to do, and now I'm scared," Middlebrooks said.
CBS Atlanta News spoke with the general manager of Progressive late Thursday, and she said the company will be investigating the incident.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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