CFPB proposes $15 million penalty, plus redress, against Encore Capital Group and subsidiaries

A proposed stipulated final judgment and order filed Thursday by the federal consumer financial protection agency would impose a $15 million civil money penalty and require $79,308.81 in consumer redress against four firms over violations of a 2015 consent decree.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Thursday said its proposed settlement with Encore Capital Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries Midland Funding, LLC, Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Asset Acceptance Capital Corp. would also require the firms to make various material disclosures to consumers; refrain from the collection of time-barred debt absent certain disclosures to consumers; and abide by certain conduct provisions in the 2015 consent order for five more years.

The bureau, announcing its lawsuit filed last month against the San Diego, Calif., firms, said these companies together comprise “the largest debt collector and debt buyer in the United States, with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion and annual net income exceeding $75 million.” In that suit, the CFPB alleged that the companies violated the terms of this consent order and again violated the FDCPA and CFPA in their debt-collection practices.

Filing its complaint Sept. 8, the CFPB said that since September 2015, Encore and its subsidiaries violated the consent order by suing consumers without possessing required documentation, using law firms and an internal legal department to engage in collection efforts without providing required disclosures, and failing to provide consumers with required loan documentation after consumers requested it.

The CFPB also alleged that the companies violated the consent order, the CFPA, and the FDCPA by suing consumers to collect debts even though the statutes of limitations had run on those debts; and that they violated the consent order by attempting to collect on debts for which the statutes of limitations had run without providing required disclosures. The bureau further claimed that the firms violated the CFPB by failing to disclose possible international-transaction fees to consumers, thereby effectively denying consumers an opportunity to make informed choices of their preferred payment methods. Each violation of the consent order constitutes a violation of the CFPA, the CFPB asserted.

The suit is in U.S. district court for the Southern District of California.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Settles Lawsuit with Debt Collectors and Debt Buyers Encore Capital Group, Midland Funding, Midland Credit Management, and Asset Acceptance Capital Corp.

RR: Bureau goes after large debt collector for violating 2015 consent decree (Sept. 9, 2020)