A debt collector based in Wayzata, Minn. who allegedly told a consumer "I will hunt you down like a dog" was ordered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to cease operations in the state, according to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Steven Westlund, who does business under the names Five Star Group of Minnesota Ltd. and Commercial Surveillance Bureau, operated without a license and made threatening comments while trying to collect a debt, according to a recent cease-and-desist order issued by the Department of Commerce. He faces fines that could exceed $60,000, Department of Commerce officials said.
Westlund, according to the newspaper's report, allegedly told an unidentified Minnesota contractor that, "I will come to your home and get the money out of you" and "hunt you down like a dog if you don't send me money now." Westlund also threatened to contact every company and financial institution that the contractor did business with, and have the contractor's license taken away. He also called the contractor's home after 9 p.m. The alleged threats are violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The Department of Commerce in May 2009 asked Westlund to respond to the complaint from the unidentified contractor. Along with denying the allegations, Westlund claimed he was a "business consultant," and not a debt collector, and therefore was not in violation of the FDCPA. He later acknowledged he had been working as a commercial collector but did not know he needed a license, according to the cease-and-desist order.
Westlund could not be reached for comment on Friday. Telephone numbers to his business were not working. According to the Star Tribune, he did not attend a hearing on Wednesday to dispute the allegations.