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Collection Agency Using Text Messaging to Collect Debts

National Attorney Collection Services, Inc. and National Attorney Services, LLC, two California based collection agencies, were ordered by the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") to pay $1 million in fines for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").  The FTC took action against the two partnered agencies for using text messaging in its attempt to unlawfully collect debts from consumers.

In its formal complaint, the FTC alleged that the two collection agencies sent texts using English and Spanish and placed phone calls where the collectors failed to disclose that they were a collection agency calling to collect a debt.  In the text messages, phone calls and mailings the collectors falsely represented themselves as attorneys and threatened to sue the consumers and garnish wages for refusal to pay. 

The FTC further alleged that the agencies illegally disclosed information regarding the debts to family members, friends and co-workers, conduct which is directly in violation of the FDCPA.  Moreover, the agencies sent collection letters in envelopes imprinted with a picture of an arm shaking money from a debtor who hung upside down.  The FDCPA is clear that collectors are forbidden from publicizing that a consumer owes any such debt and mailing envelopes are prohibited from including any information other than the name and address of the collection agency. 

In addition to the $1 million fine, the agreed upon settlement requires the agencies to cease all text messaging if it fails to contain the necessary disclosures as required under the law and to first receive consumers' express consent before sending a text message.  The collection agencies are also banned from falsely representing to consumers that they are a law firm capable of taking legal action in an effort to collect.   

If you are the victim of a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or need additional information regarding the FDCPA contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.

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