On January 9, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against two law firms and their president for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The CFPB alleges that medical debt collection law firms Works and Lentz, Inc., and Works and Lentz of Tulsa, Inc., and their president, Harry A. Lentz, Jr., engaged in the following practices that violated the FDCPA and FCRA:
- Sending collection letters to debtors that implied they were from lawyers when, in fact, a lawyer had not sent or reviewed the letters;
- Calling debtors about outstanding debt and implying that a lawyer was involved in the decision to collect the debt, even though no lawyer was involved;
- Falsifying notarization of affidavits in lawsuits against debtors; and
- Providing information to credit reporting companies without policies to ensure the accuracy of the information.
In order to resolve the alleged violations, the law firms and their president entered into a consent order with the CFPB. Pursuant to the consent order, the law firms and their president are required to:
- Return $577,135 to harmed consumers;
- Stop using deceptive language in calls and letters with consumers that imply lawyers are involved in the decisions to collect the debt;
- Prohibit future unlawful notarization of affidavits;
- Revise and enhance written policies related to the accuracy of information provided to credit reporting companies; and
- Pay $78,800 to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.