Top Debt Collection Agency Fined $3.2 Million for Harassing Tactics

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Here's a nice reversal: The world's biggest debt collector now owes a hefty bill of its own, after agreeing to pay more than $3 million to settle various charges of bad debt collection practices.

The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint charging that Expert Global Solutions and its subsidiaries had engaged in various violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the FTC Act. Those practices included repeated, harassing phone calls; repeated calls to people insisting that they weren't the intended target of the collection effort; and leaving voice mails that could violate the the consumer's confidentiality by revealing that they owe a debt.

In settling the charges, Expert Global Solutions agreed to pay $3.2 million and change its practices in various ways. That judgment is small potatoes compared to the company's $1.2 billion in annual revenue, but having the government on its case should put a stop to some of its more egregious practices. It's agreed, for instance, to conduct an investigation when someone disputes the validity of a debt, and will stop calling alleged debtors at work if they request it.

While the practices outlined in the complaint are a clear violation of the law, they're far from the worst debt collection horror stories we've heard -- some less scrupulous collectors have even gone so far as to threaten to kill pets and dig up dead relatives. (If you're being pursued by a debt collector, you should know what your rights are.)

Still, the size of the judgment and the fact that it involves the world's largest debt collector is not insignificant, and could serve as a very big warning shot for an industry that needs to clean up its act.

As for Expert Global Solutions, the order makes it clear that it's got 10 days to pay the judgment -- and it better make that deadline if it wants to avoid getting a taste of its own medicine.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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57 Comments

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Collector

Boo hoo, wait till you are denied for your next credit line before you rejoice too loudly

July 11 2013 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JIM ISHOO

These b...a...st..a..r..d...s should be put in jail for the way they treat people.

July 10 2013 at 11:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mchairmanmao

Not to worry America. Bejing will give you a nice personal loan to get collectors off your back, like we give American government nice loans to finance senseless wars. No work, no problem, move to Bejing we have hundreds of thousands of American jobs here!!!

July 10 2013 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Is this a class action suit??

July 10 2013 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jj.joey1

I hope that these type of agencies have learned a lesson not to harass debt owners.

July 10 2013 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

This is the normal policy of the GOP. Thank god we have President Obama.

July 10 2013 at 11:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to toosmart4u's comment
jrexmarda

Sounds like these jerks are after money they know these people don't owe, thinking if they bother them long enough, they'll pay up just for some peace and quiet. Has nothing to do with paying your bills but everything to do with harrassment. A fine is a small punishment for vermin like these.

July 10 2013 at 9:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
herold1227

Its funny how people that write on these comments always blame Obama for anything. The article could be about the connections between butterflies and rainbows and some brainwashed FOX news junkie will say that Obama has caused a rainbow shortage and the butterflies will die because of Obamacare! Yawn...........this gets so old.

July 10 2013 at 9:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to herold1227's comment
nyriza

You sound a bit brain washed yourself.

July 10 2013 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pumpkinpie

They use spoof calls nowadays

July 10 2013 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alan

I would like to ask those whom say " pay your bill on time" for a moment look at this matter in a differnt perspective. In life some of us get dealt a bad hand, such as terminal illness in family, tornados/ storms wiping you out, death ,fires etc. Each of these are costly, very costly. When a bad situation is upon you, you will go to survial mode. bills have to be manuplated so you can eat , and take care of you family .Yes insurance does help but I never heard of them paying 100%. Insurance and lawsuits takes time so you are liable for payments in the interim. If you figure your deuctables, and your portion of a bills from result of emergencies are quite high. I seen circumstances such as above mentioned brankrupt finacially well families. I also ask how would you feel while you are dealing with this mess negotiating a collection agency That is using strong arm tactics to collect a debt. Not all people wanted to live this way

July 10 2013 at 7:04 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alan's comment
nyriza

Learn how to use whom, you illiterate. You don't use whom for the subject. It is not those whom say, it's those who say. You sound like a total idiot trying to sound intelligent.

July 10 2013 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply