West Asset Management (“WAM”) is a national collection agency operating in all 50 states. It had been recently accused by the FTC in a complaint of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FTC has accused West Asset Management of taking the following actions against consumers:
- The collectors have misrepresented to consumers that they are lawyers;
- Threatened to take consumers property if they did not pay their debt;
- W AM collectors threaten or imply that W AM will seize or attach consumers’ properties, garnish consumers’ wages, or have
consumers arrested if consumers fail to pay WAM.
- W AM collectors made threats, when it did not have the authority or intent to carry these threats out.
- WAM collectors threatened that it would initiate lawsuits against consumers if consumers fail to pay W AM. In many of the instances when WAM collectors make such threats, WAM does not initiate lawsuits against consumers who fail to pay W AM and does not have the authority or the intent to do so.
- W AM collectors used other false or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect debts, including, but not limited to, falsely promising to consumers to accept partial payment as settlement in full on accounts or deceptively telling consumers that negative credit information will remain on consumers’ credit reports until the debt is paid.
- In numerous instances, W AM collectors withdrew funds from consumers’ bank accounts or charge consumers’ credit cards without obtaining consumers’ express informed consent for such withdrawals or charges. W AM collectors also deposited or threaten to deposit postdated checks prior to the date on such checks.
- In numerous instances, W AM collectors disclose the existence of consumers’ debts to third parties, including, but not limited to, consumers’ parents, children, family members, employers, co-workers, and neighbors.
- W AM collectors call consumers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., even when W AM collectors know or should know that it was inconvenient for consumers to receive calls at these times.
OK, you get the idea. WAM’s collectors flagrantly violated the law. The FTC entered into a consent judgment with WAM in which it was fined $2.3 million. Was this enough to send a message to this national collection agency that its collectors are not to bully the American public? I am not sure.
What I do know is that according to the FTC, only a small portion of people who are victimized by debt collectors such as WAM actually report sleazy practices like this. Most consumers simply throw their hands up and allow themselves to be victimized. If you are reading this blog post, then you are no victim.
You should know that the FDCPA allows consumers to hire lawyers who can sue debt collectors for violating the FDCPA. These lawsuits cost you nothing. The attorneys’ fees and costs are shifted, by law, to the Defendant to pay. The consumer walks away with a measure of justice and a check from the debt collector. In our office, we often are able to have the debt reduced or eliminated as well.
If you have been victimized by a debt collector or have items on your credit report that are incorrect, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation at (888) 293-2882. For more information about your credit rights as a consumer, visit our blog at www.micreditlawyerblog.com. Visit our website at www.micreditlawyer.com.