On December 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it had entered into a consent order with a state debt collector over allegations that the debt collector, which collected telecommunications debt, reported inaccurate information to credit-reporting agencies and collected and reported debt that consumers disputed and that it could not verify. The simultaneously filed complaint alleged that the debt collector purchased over three million defaulted telecommunications accounts from AT&T, and shortly thereafter reported all of the accounts as “disputed” even thought it allegedly should have known that consumers did not dispute each of the accounts. The complaint further alleged that the portfolio purchased by the debt collector contained time-barred debt, fraudulent debt, and debt that consumers had already paid, but that the debt collector failed to identify those accounts, instead attempting to collect the debts and continuing to report consumers to credit-reporting agencies. The complaint alleged that this conduct violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s prohibitions on inaccurate reporting, and the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition on deceptive acts. Under the terms of the consent order, the debt collector agreed to refund at least $743,000 to affected consumers, pay a civil money penalty of $1.85 million, stop reselling debts for five years, and cease collecting and reporting unverified debts.
Blog Enforcement Watch December 08, 2015