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Historic fine levied against bill collection company

The Federal Trade Commission recently settled with a bill collection company regarding allegations of aggressive and deceptive bill collection tactics the company used against debtors. Cincinnati bankruptcy attorneys are aware that despite federal protection against creditor harassment, bill collectors still can, at times, go too far in attempting to collect on a debt.

The recent settlement was the largest penalty ever paid to the FTC in a debt collections case, according to the federal agency. The FTC says it received thousands of complaints from across the country that the bill collectors engaged in unlawful debt collection practices.

The FTC says the company, West Corporation, had collectors calling people multiple times daily and at night. The agency says collectors used rude and abusive language in communicating with debtors. Complaints were lodged against the bill collectors for withdrawing funds from bank accounts or making charges to consumer's credit cards with the consent of the consumer in order to secure payments.

The settlement prohibits the company from employing a number of unfair practices in future attempts to collect on debt. The collectors are prohibited from misrepresenting themselves as attorneys or members of a law firm. The collection agency cannot threaten legal action or threaten to seize property where the agency has not intent to act on the threats. The collectors are not allowed to withdraw funds from bank accounts or make charges on consumer's credit cards with consent of the consumer. The collection agency is not allowed to reveal consumer account and debt information to third parties under the settlement agreement.

Federal law prohibits many unfair and deceptive practices in collecting on a debt. Despite federal protection, creditor harassment unfortunately still occurs.

Source: Omaha World-Herald, "West unit to pay civil penalty," Ross Boettcher 16 Mar 2011

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