For Immediate Release
MADIGAN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST NATIONWIDE DEBT COLLECTOR
Chicago–Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that a debt collector used unfair tactics and deceptive practices to collect money from consumers.
Madigan’s lawsuit names as the defendant Arrow Financial Services, LLC, an Illinois limited liability company located in Niles, Illinois. Arrow is a debt buyer and attempts to collect monies ranging from approximately $100 to over $10,000 per debt from consumers nationwide.
Madigan’s lawsuit charges Arrow with multiple violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The suit specifically alleges that Arrow attempts to collect on time-barred debts over ten years old, attempts to collect on debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy or that have been settled, engages in abusive practices in an attempt to collect, such as using profanity, attempts to obtain payment without proof of debt, refuses or fails to provide proof of debt, illegally contacts consumers’ family members and workplace, and withdraws money without authorization from consumers’ bank accounts.
Madigan’s suit contains a number of specific examples of consumer complaints concerning Arrow’s conduct. For example, according to Madigan’s lawsuit, Arrow allegedly contacted one Franklin Park Illinois consumer through the mail, informing him that he owes approximately $600 on a Montgomery Ward account that he had cancelled ten years ago. Soon thereafter, the consumer allegedly began receiving calls and notices regarding the debt approximately once a week for several months at a time. When the consumer explained to Arrow that he had cancelled the credit card ten years ago and did not owe any debt, Arrow responded that if he once owned the credit card, then he was obliged to pay for the debt. The consumer disputed the debt and asked for written proof. In response, Arrow threatened to sue the consumer and never provided any evidence of the debt allegedly owed.
Arrow’s conduct has come to the attention of other state enforcement offices. In November 2005, the Minnesota Department of Commerce imposed against Arrow Financial Services, LLC, a $125,000 fine, the largest civil penalty ever imposed against a collection agency licensed in Minnesota. As part of this process, Arrow was required to implement a compliance program to: (1) designate a compliance officer in charge of all regulatory compliance matters, (2) implement a training program for all Arrow debt collectors, which includes the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Minnesota debt collection laws, (3) require Arrow debt collectors to sign a statement in which they acknowledge training completion, which includes debt collection law, and (4) establish written policies and procedures for screening debt collector applicants and conduct criminal background checks.
“Consumers should not be harassed or intimidated by unscrupulous debt collectors. We are focused on protecting Illinois consumers and others affected by businesses that use unfair and deceptive debt collection tactics,” Madigan said.
Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to prohibit Arrow from engaging in deceptive debt collection activities and further violating Illinois’ consumer protection laws. The lawsuit seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 for each violation found to have been committed with intent to defraud. Finally, Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to order Arrow to pay restitution to consumers and to pay all costs for prosecution and investigation of this case.
Consumers who believe they have been the victim of unfair or deceptive debt collection practices or another consumer fraud can download a complaint form at www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov/consumers or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at one of the following numbers:
Chicago: 1-800-386-5438; TTY: 1-800-964-3013
Consumers can get tips to protect themselves against unfair or deceptive debt collection practices on Madigan’s website at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/debtcollection.html.
Assistant Attorney General Junko Minami is handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Protection Division.