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Regulators call out debt collector; actions deemed "egregious"

When one of the country's leading consumer advocates calls a debt collector's business tactics "particularly egregious," that is really saying something, right?

Because virtually any debtor -- including readers of this blog in Arkansas and elsewhere -- who has ever been on the receiving end of collection demands knows that even standard collection strategies can seem out-of-the-park aggressive and unrelenting.

According to the national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its ranking official, Richard Cordray, what qualifies as being especially atrocious in the world of debt collection practices and activities?

For starters, leaving debtors in the dark for months on end by not responding to their questions and challenges regarding billing disputes. As noted in a recent media article discussing the CFPB and its laser-like focus on a collection group called Central Financial Control (CFC; a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare, a national hospital operator), CFC often takes more than three months to respond to worried and harassed consumers, notwithstanding federal law that requires an answer within 30 days.

Moreover, the company's identity is so sheltered by successive layers of corporate names and groupings that even contacting it to dispute a debt collection allegation or outcome can seem insuperably difficult for many consumers.

And touching base has certainly provided no assurance to debtors that their concerns will be addressed by CFC. Following a long-term look at the company, the CFPB noted that it "had no policies or procedures in place to investigate consumer credit report disputes."

That is certainly shameful and, as Cordray says, "egregious."

CFC -- also known as Syndicated Office Systems -- recently settled allegations against it (without conceding wrongdoing, which is often the case), agreeing to cough up $5 million to compensate adversely affected consumers.

Such stories are of course sad and disturbing.

Unfortunately, they are also recurring.

Source: credit.com, "Debt collector left consumers hanging on medical bill disputes, says CFPB," Bob Sullivan, June 22, 2015

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