A class action lawsuit filed against student loan collection company, the National Collegiate Student Loan Trust, and the Law Offices of Patenaude & Felix APC, alleges that they used deceptive practices to collect student loan debts in California.

Lead plaintiff Dawn Zoerb alleges in the class action that in June 2013, after she fell behind on student loan payments, her debt was transferred to National Collegiate and then to Patenaude for collection. Zoerb claims that Patenaude filed a collection lawsuit in California debt court on behalf of National Collegiate but failed to identify the original creditor in the lawsuit.

Zoerb brought the class action on behalf of California residents who had a collection lawsuit filed against them that did not provide the name of the original creditor. Zoerb alleges that National Collegiate and Patenaude’s collection practices violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a California collection statute.

Zoerb alleges in the class action that the "[d]efendants … unlawfully and abusively collect[ed] a debt allegedly owed by [Zoerb], and this conduct caused [Zoerb] damages" amounting to $1000, along with attorney fees and litigation costs. The case was filed in California federal court on Feb. 28.

"[T]he United States Congress has found abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors, and has determined that abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs and to invasions of individual privacy," Zoerb notes in the lawsuit. "Congress wrote the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act … to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.

"[T]he California legislature has determined that the banking and credit system and grantors of credit to consumers are dependent upon the collection of just and owing debts and that unfair or deceptive collection practices undermine the public confidence that is essential to the continued functioning of the banking and credit system and sound extensions of credit to consumers. The Legislature has further determined that there is a need to ensure that debt collectors exercise this responsibility with fairness, honesty and due regard for the debtor’s rights and that debt collectors must be prohibited from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices."

The plaintiff is represented by Crosby S. Connolly, Robert L. Hyde and Joshua B. Swigart of Hyde & Swigart.

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