NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - One major debt collector is facing hundreds of thousands in civil penalties for sending clients text messages to collect money.
It's the first case of its kind for the Federal Trade Commission. The California-based debt collector, National Attorney Services, will have to pay $1 million in penalties after the FTC found they were sending unlawful text messages in attempt to collect debt.
The FTC charged the defendants with violating both FTC policy and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because they failed to disclose in the text that they were debt collectors. Consumer protection agents said the company portrayed themselves as law firms instead.
“I can kind of see that as being ok depending on the amount,” said Vanessa Rizzari of Agawam. “If it's way too much and day by day, three times a day, that's a little too much. But once a month just reminding that you have a bill, I think that's fine; that's just as good as an email or a letter.”
“They are unscrupulous; business is unscrupulous,” said Doug Anderson of Amherst. “It's a predatory time in this country and regulation is not working.”
Debt collectors are allowed to contact clients by mail, phone and text. But if they want to contact them by text message, the FTC says they'll need a consumer's express consent.