A California resident has filed a class-action lawsuit against a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based collection agency, alleging it sent misleading form letters suggesting it was linked with local government.

Maxwell E. Twining’s lawsuit accuses Palmer Systems of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., states that the letters were meant to “strike fear into the heart of consumers.” The lawsuit states that the collection agency sent hundreds of letters across the state bearing the name “Sonoma County Credit Service” - and also used the name in collection attempts over the phone - so that recipients would be more apt to pay.

Twining, of Huntington Beach, Calif., seeks legal fees and up to $2,000 for each person who received letters or phone calls in the past year. The exact number of people involved in the class-action case isn’t known and can only be determined by a review of company records, the suit indicates. 

The lawsuit stems from a collection letter received in November for a delinquent bill for medical services. Twining was a student at Sonoma State University five years ago when he incurred the $872 debt.

Palmer Systems' officials couldn't be reached for comment. The agency isn’t affiliated with Sonoma County and is using a "generic, mass-mailed form letter" to conduct business, according to the lawsuit, which calls the form letter a "calculated to mislead the least sophisticated consumer."    

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.