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Collection agency fined $1 million for texts

Florida residents who are being harassed by creditors may be gratified to hear that a debt collection agency just got hit with a million dollar fine for a variety of illegal collection practices. The company in question, named the misleading National Attorney Collection Services, Inc., was going out of their way to give people the impression they were a law firm. In both text messages and phone calls, representatives of the collection agency represented themselves as either attorneys or legal assistants.

Along with misleading individuals about the type of company they were, National Attorney Collection Services also broke another law by using an envelope that let friends, family and others know that someone owed a debt. Debt collectors are not allowed to indicate that someone owes any debt, including credit card debt, on the outside of letters to protect people's privacy. In addition to the envelopes, the collection agency also disclosed individuals' debt to friends, family, and co-workers via text messages and phone calls.

What makes this case interesting, since the Federal Trade Commission is no stranger to going after debt collection agencies, was the fact that the main complaint related to the case was text messages the agency sent. While texting people about their debt is not illegal, the contents of the messages were. In addition to the million dollar fine, the agency is required to change their name from National Attorney Collection Services, Inc. and report any complaints to the government.

When someone is being harassed by creditors, filing for bankruptcy may discharge their debts and stop the phone calls. A lawyer could help someone understand what bankruptcy covers and assist them in choosing the right type of bankruptcy for their situation.

Source: Daily Finance, "Text-Messaging Debt Collector Hit With $1 Million Fine for Posing as Law Firm", Matt Brownell, September 25, 2013

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