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Debt collection agency fined record amount by FTC

Many people who struggle with credit card debt, medical bills, student loan payments and other debts know the aggravation of harassing phone calls from debt collectors. While laws are in place that are supposed to protect consumers from debt collector harassment, many collectors routinely disregard these laws. They often get away with it because people are unaware of their rights.

On July 9, 2013 the Federal Trade Commission fined Expert Global Solutions, the world's largest collection agency, and its subsidiary companies $3.2 million for repeatedly violating the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. The settlement that the FTC and EGS reached represents the largest penalty imposed for FDCPA violations to date. 

The FTC alleged that EGS committed a number of FDCPA violations including calling consumers after the consumers had told them to stop calling, calling early in the morning and late at night, failing to validate debts after consumers disputed that they owed the debts and discussing debts with third parties without the consumer's permission.

As part of the settlement, EGS and its subsidiaries must also record collection calls so authorities can review them for evidence of harassment. The debt collectors must also suspend collection on accounts where consumers dispute the validity of the debt until the company has verified the accuracy of the debt. 

While it is important for consumers to document instances when debt collectors violate the law so that those companies can be held accountable, those with serious financial difficulties may want to meet with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss debt relief options available to them rather than continuing to endure the agony of repeated collections phone calls. 

Source: CBS Money Watch, "FTC slaps Expert Global Solutions with $3,2M fine," Kathy Kristof, July 9, 2013  

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