SAN DIEGO–The San Diego District Attorney’s office together with District Attorney’s offices in Riverside, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara counties announced a joint lawsuit on behalf of Californians against debt collection giant iQor US, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Allied Interstate, LLC.
The civil complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges the policies and practices of iQor and Allied violated provisions of California’s Rosenthal Act, the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and California’s constitutional right to privacy. The complaint seeks $10 million dollars in civil penalties for the continued violations.
Despite a history of repeated lawsuits brought by government entities, prosecutors allege iQor and Allied have continued their predatory harassment of consumers through a network of far-flung global phone operations. iQor and Allied employ thousands of debt collection agents at worldwide call centers in the U.S., Canada, China, India, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, as well as Trinidad and Tobago. The companies subjected many individuals to repetitive calls for months on end, even when no money was owed, and despite the consumers’ protestations.
“This is the end of the road for these predatory tactics,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. “Our Consumer Protection Unit worked diligently with other law enforcement agencies to bring a stop to this illegal practice.”
As an example, the complaint cites Mr. and Mrs. D. of Windsor, California. The couple received hundreds of calls to their home from Allied for more than three years, despite their continual efforts to notify Allied agents that they were calling a wrong number, including having a police officer tell the company to stop calling the wrong number and the couple having sent two certified letters to Allied demanding that the calls stop. Allied finally put the couple’s number on their “do not call” list only after being notified that the couple contacted the California Attorney General’s Office.
The civil complaint also lists violations for calling consumers before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., and for attempting to collect debts that had been discharged in bankruptcy. In addition, the defendants are accused of using an automatic dialing system to call cell phone numbers without the consent of the current subscriber – a practice that is strictly forbidden by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
In 2010, Allied settled an action with the Federal Trade Commission for $1.75 million for harassing debtors and attempting to collect from the wrong people. Actions against Allied include an enforcement action by the Minnesota Attorney General in 2004, an action filed by the Kern County District Attorney in 2006, an Administrative Consent Order by the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions in 2008, an action filed by the West Virginia Attorney General in 2009, a Consent Order by the Maryland State Collection Agency Licensing Board in 2010, a Consent Decree issued by the Federal Trade Commission in 2010, two enforcement actions ordered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in 2011, an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed by the Oregon Attorney General in 2011, an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed by the Florida Attorney General in 2011, and a Consent Judgment filed by the Ohio Attorney General in 2011.
Since 2011, hundreds of complaints against Allied have been lodged by California residents with the California Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission regarding the defendants’ debt collection practices. In 2014, a federal court awarded a plaintiff $500 for each of the 356 times Allied had called her cell phone without her consent using its automatic dialing system.
California consumers who have been victims of unwarranted calls from these companies are asked to call the San Diego District Attorney’s hotline at (619) 531-3115.