Two Giant Debt Collectors Ordered to Refund a Collected $61million to Consumers

By MoneyTimes

Sep 14, 2015 02:33 AM EDT

Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates are ordered to refund a collected $61 million to customers for allegedly using deceptive strategies to collect debt.

CNN reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau charged these two giant debt collectors for buying inaccurate debts, collecting unverified debts, and using illegal strategies to collect debts.

Encore Capital Group is ordered to refund $42 million to its customers, pay $10 million in penalty, and stop the collection other debts worth $125 million. Meanwhile, Portfolio Recovery Associates, a subsidiary of PRA Group, is ordered to refund $19 million, $8 million in fees, and stop collecting $3 million worth of other debts.

According to The New York Times, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the debt companies pressured their borrowers to pay through the use of false statements, lawsuits, and robo-signed court documents.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said Wednesday, "Encore and Portfolio Recovery Associates threatened and deceived consumers to collect on debts they should have known were inaccurate or had other problems."

The companies purchase outstanding debts from at very low rates and try to collect them. The bureau revealed that the companies bought the rights to collect a total of $200 billion worth of debts from consumer who defaulted.

Encore CEO Kenneth A. Vecchione said, "After rigorously and thoroughly scrutinizing seemingly countless aspects of our business for more than a year, the CFPB ultimately identified only two key issues warranting consumer refunds." As mentioned in San Diego Tribune, they reportedly disagree with these two allegations the CFPB charged them, but resolved to pay the settlements anyway so the company can "move forward."

Vecchione even took hits on CFPB said the charges aren't based on laws or rules, but is all about the bureau "subjecting companies to its own interpretations that have never been codified or adopted."

The major takeaway in this issue is for Encore and Portfolio to be more careful in verifying the accuracy of any debts before collecting them and they should provide consumers with the right information before filing a lawsuit, CFPB said.

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