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Ohio Debt Collection Company Settles Lawsuit Alleging It Harassed Consumers

April 15, 2010

As Riverside debt collection abuse attorneys, we were pleased to see a report that yet another debt collector has settled a lawsuit by a state attorney general alleging outrageous behavior. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported April 13 that National Enterprise Systems, better known as NES, will pay $414,000 to settle a claim by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray that it violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Cordray's claim alleged several violations of the Act, including serious violations like withdrawing money from a debtor's account without authorization. Half of the settlement will be paid to consumers who complained to Cordray's office or the Better Business Bureau, and half will go to the attorney general's enforcement fund.

Nearly 400 people complained about NES to Cordray's office or the BBB, the article said. In addition to the unauthorized withdrawals, the collection agency is accused of calling consumers rapidly in a short time, which is considered harassment; failing to remove wrong numbers from accounts; failing to send proof of the debt to consumers who requested it; and agreeing to lower settlements before continuing to try to collect the full amount of the debt. All of these violate the FDCPA and Ohio's own state-law version, the Consumer Sales Practices Act. As part of the settlement, NES agreed to a consent order requiring it to keep recordings of collection calls for six months; keep paper records of its collection efforts for two years; and allow Cordray's office to inspect the files. It is barred from further violations of the law, although it admits to no wrongdoing.

Our Yorba Linda FDCPA lawyers are glad that an apparently abusive debt collector was identified and stopped. Unfortunately, our professional experience suggests that for every one that is the target of a well-organized claim like this one, there are many others that fly under the radar. Debt collection agencies are notorious for their abusive behavior, which is part of the reason for the FDCPA in the first place. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about the debt collection industry than any other industry. Nonetheless, many people don't even realize they have rights under the FDCPA and similar local laws, which allows debt collectors to manipulate them with unrealistic threats and escape responsibility for their actions.

Howard Law PC helps consumers fight back. Under the FDCPA and California's Rosenthal FDCPA, victims may sue any debt collection agency that violates the law. Under those two laws, debt collectors may not call very early in the morning or late at night; call anyone other than the debtor or his or her spouse; call at work after a specific request not to; or threaten actions they cannot legally take, like arrest or physical violence. Conversely, they must verify the debt on request, remove incorrect information from their files and avoid reporting false information to credit agencies. In addition to recovering any costs the harassment caused, such as the cost of changing a phone number or losing a job, they can also win all of their attorney fees and up to $1,000 in statutory damages. Our West Covina debt collection harassment lawyers help individuals as well as groups hold collection agencies legally responsible for their actions.

If you believe you were a victim of a debt collector's illegal conduct, you should call Howard Law to learn more about your rights and your legal options. To set up a free consultation, please contact us online or call 1-800-872-5925 today.