One of America’s largest debt collectors has consented to pay $9 million in compensation to settle a lawsuit claiming that it spammed consumers in 18 California counties with illegal robocalls. The settlement dollars will be split between iQor Holdings and its subsidiary AlliedInterstate.
iQor, AlliedInterstate Resolve Illegal Robocall Allegations
State prosecutors accused the debt collection companies of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Debt Collection Practices Act and California State consumer protection laws.
In court documents, the prosecutors allege that iQor and AlliedInterstate called consumers with excessive frequency, spamming phone numbers with hundreds of calls and, in some cases, calling the wrong number multiple times. The companies were also accused of failing to stop calling phone numbers even after being advised that they had reached the wrong number.
Violations Of The Telephone Consumer Protection Act
iQor and AlliedInterstate were also accused of using a predictive dialer system to place calls to consumer cell phones without first receiving the recipient’s written consent. Accordeing to the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, telemarketers and debt collectors are required to obtain a consumer’s prior express written consent before placing any phone calls using an automated dialing system. Predictive dialers are software programs that automatically dial phone numbers from a pre-loaded list of numbers. Their use is strictly regulated by federal and California State law.
“The companies subjected people to repeated phone calls for months on end, even when no money was owed,” says San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan.
Long History Of Legal Trouble
This is the 11th law enforcement action against iQor Holdings within the last decade, according to state prosecutor Yen Dang, who leads the consumer protection division for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Just last year, the company agreed to pay $500,000 to end a lawsuit filed by five different states. iQor owns and operates around 40 call centers scattered throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Debt Collectors Agree To Clean Up Calling Practices
In the recent settlement, iQor and its debt collection subsidiary AlliedInterstate have agreed to set rigorous calling guidelines to prevent illegal robocalls in the future. The two companies have been ordered to immediately halt their alleged illegal practices.
They have been instructed to provide employees who make debt collection practices with training to prevent illegal phone calls. Going forward, iQor and AlliedInterstate will also be required to maintain comprehensive call and complaint records. And, for the next five years, the companies will have to subject themselves to an independent third-party audit to ensure that they are complying with the settlement terms. Audits will be performed on an annual basis.
AlliedInterstate Maintains That Calls Were Lawful
Per the settlement’s terms, neither iQor, nor AlliedInterstate or any associated firms, have accepted liability or acknowledged wrongdoing in the case, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.
The companies continue to maintain their innocence, saying in a statement, “the case centered on calls that Allied placed to certain California debtors dating back to 2011 using its former dialing system and turned on evolving interpretations of laws governing our industry. Allied maintains that such calls were lawful, and the policies have long been retired and new leadership appointed.”
“California Law Protects All Consumers”
“California law protects all consumers, even those who are behind in their payments, from constant harassing phone calls,” says Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. “We will strictly enforce laws designed to protect consumers from illegal and abusive phone-calling practices.” The suit was initially filed in 2016 by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Eventually, other counties signed on, including district attorneys from Santa Clara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Cruz and San Mateo.
The $9 million settlement includes $8 million in civil penalties that will be paid out over the course of 2 years to the counties involved in the lawsuit. A further $1 million has been dedicated to compensate the counties for their legal expenses.