CFPB reaches settlement with unlicensed debt collector
On December 8, the CFPB announced a settlement with a New Jersey-based debt collector resolving allegations that the defendant violated the FDCPA and the CFPA’s prohibition against deceptive acts or practices by obtaining judgments and demanding payments from consumers in states where it was not legally licensed to do so. According to the Bureau, the defendant purchased consumer debts from debt brokers, used law firms to obtain judgments against the consumers, and “continued to collect on those judgments . . . as well as on a handful of payment agreements it obtained from debtors.” The Bureau found that the defendant falsely implied that it had a legally enforceable right to recover payments from consumers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and demanded payments and threatened legal action even though it did not hold the debt collection licenses required under the laws of those states. The consent order requires the defendant to pay a $204,000 civil money penalty, and prohibits the defendant from collecting on the judgments against, or payment agreements entered into with, consumers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island when it was not legally allowed to do so. The defendant is also required to “take all necessary steps to vacate all judgments not discharged in bankruptcy or [that were] previously satisfied,” and must suspend collection of those judgments and provide notice to consumers with payment agreements that have been satisfied.