Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced a settlement with Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC, a licensed debt collection agency that sent illegal collection letters to tens of thousands of New Yorkers from Harlem to Hollis. The settlement resolves DCA’s findings that the debt collection agency failed to include information required by law on their collection letters, including the name of the agency and the name of a live contact to whom the consumer could speak. DCA investigated Enhanced Recovery Company as part of a proactive investigative initiative of debt collection agencies and their practices.
The agreement requires Enhanced Recovery Company to pay a $105,000 fine to resolve the investigation and to develop, implement, and monitor written policies to ensure compliance with the settlement agreement and all applicable DCA regulations. The written policies must address training and compliance across all languages in which the agency collects.
“For many years, debt collection was DCA’s top complaint category and though the number of complaints has started to decline, we know that New Yorkers are still struggling with debt and continue to be contacted by debt collectors,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Even in the absence of complaints, DCA will continue its oversight of this industry to ensure debt collectors are following the law, which is why we are proactively investigating a number of agencies like Enhanced Recovery. We also encourage New Yorkers to get our tips when a debt collector contacts them and to contact us if their rights are violated, including consumers who have been contacted by Enhanced Recovery.”
Anyone seeking to collect debts from New Yorkers must be licensed by DCA, which currently licenses nearly 1,600 debt collection agencies. Last year, DCA received just under 400 complaints about debt collectors, often about debts the consumer doesn’t believe they owe. DCA encourages anyone who is contacted by a debt collector to download our Debt Collection Guide so they know their rights, as well as what a debt collector can and cannot do. DCA also encourages people who feel they’ve been taken advantage of to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dca or by calling 311. Since 2013, DCA has secured more than $1.5 million in restitution for consumers and issued $4.6 million in fines related to debt collection agencies.
DCA also encourages anyone struggling with debt to visit an NYC Financial Empowerment Center for free, one-on-one financial counseling. Since 2008, the Centers have helped more than 51,000 New Yorkers improve their financial health and reduce their debt by almost $63.7 million and increase their savings by more than $5 million. New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by calling 311, visiting nyc.gov/dca, or texting TalkMoney to 42033 (message and data rates may apply; check with your service provider).
The matter was handled by Senior Staff Counsel Alexandra Pinilla, under the supervision of Associate General Counsel Adam Blumenkrantz, of the General Counsel Division, which is led by General Counsel Tamala Boyd and Deputy General Counsel Michael Tiger.
For more information go to dca.nyc.gov