WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced today that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Office of Consumer Protection has entered a settlement with Collect Pros, LLC, a California-based debt collection company, and Michael Ross, the company’s owner and manager. The settlement requires Collect Pros and Ross to forgive $219,297.41 in uncollected consumer debt held by District residents, in addition to other provisions.
Collect Pros is a third-party debt buyer that purchased and collected debts they claimed District consumers owed. The debts were largely from magazine subscriptions that consumers complained they had never agreed to, and many of the debts had also already been settled, discharged, or were otherwise uncollectible from consumers under District law.
“One of the biggest complaints we hear from consumers in the District is about aggressive or abusive debt collectors,”said Attorney General Racine. “These companies cannot call and demand that consumers pay debts they do not owe. As this settlement demonstrates, our office is committed to ensuring that companies deal fairly with consumers.”
Under the settlement, Collect Pros is also required to return $1,194.15 in restitution for debts it did collect from District consumers, pay a $2,500 civil penalty to the District, and stop violating the District’s debt collection and consumer protection laws. The settlement prohibits Collect Pros from:
- Engaging in any unlawful practice prohibited by the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act or the District’s Debt Collection Law;
- Collecting on any illegal debt from District consumers;
- Assigning, transferring, or selling any illegal debt to a third party;
- Reporting adverse information to credit reporting agencies concerning any of the illegal debts; and
- Engaging in any debt collection trade practices without:
- Validating and verifying debts consistent with the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 16925, et seq.);
- Registering to do business with the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs;
- Writing and implementing written policies and procedures regarding pre-litigation debt collection in the District of Columbia; and
- Retaining all records of all written communications and correspondence with consumers for a period of up to three years.
Consumers who have been victimized by debt collectors may contact the OAG Office of Consumer Protection at (202) 442-9892, by e-mailing email@example.com, or by filing a complaint via our web form.
A copy of the settlement is attached.