In July of 2013, the Federal Trade Commission fined Expert Global Solutions $3.2 million in what was viewed as a record-setting settlement that alleged that Expert Global, the largest debt collection company in the world, regularly violated the rights of consumers.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court of Dallas with the FTC charging that Expert Global, as well as its subsidiary debt-collection companies operating under names such as Transworld Systems, North Shore Agency, ALW Sourcing, & NCO Group were harassing consumers which is illegal; particularly since many of these consumers actually denied ever owing the debt. This was a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
This legislation, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, prevents debt collectors from contacting consumers late in the evening, in the early hours of the morning, or while they are at work. This Act also prevents debt collectors from continually calling a consumer if the consumer has requested them to stop. A debt collector is also required not to discuss the details of a debt collection action to anyone other than the debtor; and they must investigate the legitimacy and validity of a debt if the consumer claims that they do not owe the debt in question.
Expert Global, Transworld, NCO and its other subsidiaries regularly violated each of these terms according to the complaint filed by the FTC. The $3.2 million civil penalty levied against the company bars the company from any future violations and requires the company to record phone calls to help prevent such violations.
“The problem that arises when using a huge corporation for debt collection is that they have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to collecting” said David Hamilton, CEO of Mnet Financial. “So whether they are collecting for auto loans, credit cards, utilities or medical debt; every consumer basically receives the same type of debt collection approach; which can be dangerous” said Hamilton.
Debt collectors are required to abide by the rules set forth in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and many collection agencies do comply with the Association of Credit and Collection Professional’s International Code of Conduct. However, those dealing with medical debt must also abide by rules set forth in the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act as well. But how much attention is really paid to healthcare rules by companies that mainly focus on credit card and utility bill debt?
“In order to meet the requirements of Federal Regulations, agencies and their vendor partners are going to need to be extremely knowledgeable about the rules set forth for a specific industry” said Hamilton. “That’s why we are seeing more companies doing the opposite of what was the norm just a few years ago. The trend used to be for a company to take on as many different revenue stream laterals as possible but now we are seeing companies becoming much more niche than ever before” said Hamilton.
“At Mnet Financial we only work with health care providers so we not only adhere to the rules and guidelines set forth by the FDCPA and ACA but also completely understand and comply with the healthcare insurance rules of HIPAA” said Hamilton. “Being so industry specific has allowed us to produce a higher level of service for the providers that we work with as well as the patients they care for” said Hamilton.