WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking $1.85 million in fines and restitution from EOS CCA, a Norwell, Mass., debt collection firm accused of holding on to a tainted AT&T portfolio of old cellphone bills.
According to the CFPB, EOS repeatedly failed to verify debts that had been disputed by consumers as either paid off, expired or fraudulent. Instead, it kept collecting on the portfolio, which it purchased in 2012 for $35.4 million, and had a total face value of $2.3 billion. The company also signified to credit reporting companies that all three million accounts in the bundle had been disputed, though only some of them had, the bureau alleged.
"It is unacceptable that consumers were harmed by these practices and that the company supplied inaccurate information to the credit reporting companies, so today we are taking action to stop it," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a press release.
In a proposed consent order, the bureau is also seeking $745,000 in restitution fees for holders of the more than 2,000 accounts that were disputed but remained on EOS's books without further verification, in addition to a series of measures and constraints. EOS would have to stop collecting unverified debts; would have to verify information before sending information to credit reporting companies; and would be subjected to a five-year ban on reselling debt to other debt collectors.
EOS said in a Dec. 7 press release that it had agreed to the settlement and that it had "taken extensive steps to revamp its compliance management system" even before the CFPB's investigation. "The Consent Order requirements outlined by the CFPB represent policies and procedures already implemented at the company," it said.