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Mass. AG Reaches $12M Settlement With Midland Credit and related entities
On September 20, 2022 the Attorney General of Massachusetts announced a $12 million settlement with Midland Credit Management, Midland Funding, their parent Encore Capital Group, and Atlantic Credit and finance. The companies were accused of a number of violations, such as collecting on debts without sufficient proof that the debts were valid, violating state law limiting the number of calls that could be made to collect on a debt, and failing to prevent a collection law firm it was using from using falsified information about the existence of lawsuits and judgments to collect on time-barred debt. They were accused of (1) regularly purchasing portfolios of defaulted loans, credit cards, and other debts without obtaining the underlying documentation, such as account statements and credit agreements, (2) failing to prevent their former debt collection law firm, the Daniels Law Office, from falsifying information about lawsuits and judgments and then allowing other law firms to pursue consumers based on that falsified information, (3) making excessive and harassing phone calls — as many as 15 during a seven-day period — violating state law limiting the number of calls to two during a seven-day period, (4) attempting to collect debts where the statute of limitations had expired without notifying consumers of that event, and (5) falsely representing to consumers that they were required to make good-faith payments or enter an agreement for a judgment when the consumer had only exempt sources of income, like Social Security disability benefits and pensions.
Under the settlement, Midland will pay $4.5 million, which includes restitution to consumers in Massachusetts, and stop collecting on $7.5 million of debt — about 4,200 debts in total — that were placed with the Daniels Law Office and for which a judgment could not be verified. Midland was also prohibited from collecting on debts or suing consumers unless they can acquire and review all the original documents.