United States Files Enforcement Action against Texas Debt Collection Company, Current President and Former Vice President to Stop Deceptive Practices
A civil complaint was filed today in federal court in Texas against Commercial Recovery Systems Inc. (CRS), of Plano, Texas, its president, Timothy Ford, and its former vice president, David Devany, to assess civil penalties for deceptive and abusive debt collection practices, and to prevent further consumer abuse, the Justice Department announced today.
CRS is a third-party debt collector that primarily collects auto loan and credit card debts on behalf of creditors. The complaint alleges that, in numerous instances, collectors at CRS called consumers and falsely claimed to be attorneys or judicial employees. According to the complaint, collectors also falsely stated that lawsuits had already been filed against consumers and offered to resolve the fictitious lawsuits “out of court.” They left voicemail messages falsely representing that a failure to return the collector’s call would result in a waiver of rights. The government alleges that, in some instances, collectors told consumers that their wages, taxes and 401(K) plans would be garnished if they did not pay. In reality, CRS had neither the intent nor the authority to file lawsuits against the consumers or attempt to have their wages garnished.
“The defendants in this case are alleged to have lied to consumers in violation of the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Civil Division. “We will enforce these laws and stop those who would use deception to extract money from American consumers.”
Prompted by numerous consumer complaints of deceptive and abusive debt collection practices, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas at the request of the FTC, and alleges violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The government is seeking civil monetary penalties and a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from engaging in such violations.
“When it comes to debt collection, people have rights,” said Director Jessica Rich of the
FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It’s illegal to harass people, or to make false threats about wage garnishment or lawsuits. Unfortunately, these unscrupulous debt collectors systematically lied to the people they called.”
The government is represented by Trial Attorney Heide L. Herrmann of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Attorneys Anne D. LeJeune and Reid A. Tepfer of the FTC’s Southwest Region.
A complaint is merely a set of allegations that, if the case were to proceed to trial, the government would need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence.