They just kept calling. By day and night, at home and at work, they just kept calling. Now, for doing so, the world's biggest debt collection operation will pay the biggest fine ever assessed against a debt collector by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Under the record-setting settlement, Expert Global Solutions and its subsidiaries agreed to stop harassing consumers with allegedly illegal debt collection calls and to pay a $3.2 million civil penalty.
According to the FTC's complaint, the companies dialed up several violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the FTC Act, including: calling consumers multiple times per day, calling even after being asked by the consumer to stop, calling early in the morning or late at night, calling consumers' workplaces despite knowing that the employers prohibited such calls, and leaving phone messages that disclosed the debtor's name, and the existence of the debt, to third parties.
In many cases, charged the FTC, the companies failed to verify the debts and kept calling consumers ever after they had paid what they owed.
Ordered to Change Their Evil Ways
Along with paying the $3.2 million fine, the court ordered Expert Global Solutions to: stop calling consumers after promising not to; stop harassing or abusing consumers; stop talking to other people about consumers' debts; stop calling consumers' workplaces when told not to; stop calling consumers who ask not to be called; and not violate any provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
In addition, Expert Global Solutions will be required to prove they are complying with the order by recording at least 75% of all their debt collection calls beginning one year after the date of the order, and retain the recordings for 90 days after they are made.
Perhaps most importantly, Expert Global Solutions was ordered to stop calling consumers who dispute the amount or validity of their debt. Expert Global must either close the account and end collection efforts, or suspend collection efforts until they have investigated and verified that their information about the debt is accurate and complete.
While not required by the court order, "justice" might best be served if the FTC calls Expert Global Solutions several times to "remind" them to pay their fine.
As the largest debt collectors in the world, Texas-based Expert Global Solutions and its subsidiaries -- ALW Sourcing, LLC; NCO Financial Systems, Inc.; and Transworld Systems, Inc., employ more than 32,000 people and reported revenues in excess of $1.2 billion in 2011.