Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bill Collector Accused Of Making Arrest Threats, Harassing Family Members When Squeezing Consumers Over Fabricated Debts Settles With WV AG For $1.7M

From the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General:

  • West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw [] announced an agreement with DP & Associates of Irvine, CA, that requires the debt collection company to pay a total $1.7 million in refunds and cancelled debts. The company engaged in unlawful and threatening debt collection practices and attempted to collect debts without a license.

    An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office led to the signing of an "Assurance of Discontinuance" in which DP agrees to close all West Virginia accounts with a zero balance, notify credit-reporting bureaus to delete references to the debts, refund all amounts it collected, and release any judgments obtained against the state’s consumers. The agreement secures $1,714,553 in refunds and cancelled debts for 124 West Virginians.

    "In these difficult economic times, it is especially heinous for companies to bully and exploit financially strapped consumers with false threats and phony debts," McGraw said. "Our Office will continually strive to protect West Virginians from these coercive, unlawful, and threatening debt collection techniques."

    In January, McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division received a complaint against DP asserting that the company made telephone calls falsely threatening arrest and harassing family members regarding a debt allegedly owed by a consumer. Upon investigating the complaint, the Attorney General’s Office discovered that DP did not have a license to collect debts in West Virginia. McGraw’s investigation also revealed a pattern of abusive collection methods by DP in which consumers were deceitfully threatened with arrest for non-payment of fabricated debts.

    In one case, a Grafton, WV, consumer was mislead to believe that if she did not pay $3,000 to DP by the end of the day a warrant would be issued for her arrest. DP also contacted the consumer’s mother-in-law and falsely stated that representatives were waiting at the Taylor County Courthouse for the arrest of her daughter-in-law. The company also inflated the alleged amount owed, upping it to $8,000 after specifying it as $5,987.10 in an email.

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