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- How Can I Deal with Collection Bureau Services?
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Collection Bureau Services, Inc. (CBS) is a third-party collection agency based in Montana. CBS has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), including failure to verify debts and making false statements. If you have been contacted by CBS, make sure you understand your rights before taking action.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Collection Bureau Services, Inc. was founded in 1976. The BBB established CBS’ profile page in 2005. CBS is listed as a collection agency. The BBB lists 5 alternate phone numbers for CBS. Buzzfile estimates CBS’ annual revenue at $7.0 million and the size of its headquarters staff at 26 employees.
According to its website, Collection Bureau Services “is an integrated delinquent and active account collection service…with offices in Missoula and Billings, MT.” CBS representatives offer personalized client services and will “come to your location to devise a strategy tailored to your unique business needs.” CBS’ mission is to “provide…clients with collection services that are the pinnacle of those offered in Montana, to continually strive to upgrade and improve procedures to the betterment of our clients, and to do so in a legal and ethical manner that preserves the dignity and self-respect of Montana consumers.”
Collection Bureau Services provides debt collection services to a variety of clients, including healthcare providers such as hospitals, clinics, and private physicians; government agencies at the state, county, and municipal levels; legal and professional businesses such as attorney firms, CPA’s, and psychiatrists; utility companies, including water, gas, and electricity; financial services, such as banks and credit unions; and property management firms, including individual landlords.
As a full-service collection agency, Collection Bureau Services utilizes credit bureau reporting; electronic file transfer; an online management system; automated dialing, collection letters, and payment processing; and an in-house litigation department. CBS’ blog offers articles that provide insight for collection managers researching regulatory policies. However, their site does not provide any information about its compliance policies, nor are there any links or references to consumer protection resources, laws, or enforcement agencies.
As of December 2017, the BBB has closed 8 complaints against Collection Bureau Services in the preceding 3 years, with 3 complaints closed in the past 12 months. Most of these complaints alleged problems with billing and collections. Since April 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received 16 complaints about CBS. Justia lists at least 4 cases of civil litigation involving Collection Bureau Services.
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases against Collection Bureau Services Inc.
In April 2004, in the Supreme Court of the State of Montana, a judge issued an Opinion in a case in which Collection Bureau Services, challenged an earlier decision that had found them guilty of violating the Montana Collection Act (MCA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In the initial case, the plaintiff had issued eight bad checks in amounts ranging from $10.20 to $25.00 to merchants such as Pizza Hut and the Golden Spur. The total amount of all bad checks was $148.96. The businesses who received the checks hired CBS to collect the delinquent amounts, and Collection Bureau Services, sent the plaintiff eight separate letters—one for each check. Each letter demanded payment for the face value of the check plus a $30.00 collection fee, so that the total amount the plaintiff owed CBS was $388.96. Subsequently, CBS sent the plaintiff a single letter demanding payment for the entire amount. This letter included the following language:
“YOU MAY EXPERIENCE DIFFICULTY WRITING CHECKS DUE TO THE UNPAID ITEMS. MT. CODE ANNOTATED 27-1-717 PROVIDES SPECIFIC LEGAL REMEDIES. CALL US TO RESOLVE THIS.”
The plaintiff began sending Collection Bureau Services, payments, the first a check for $25.00 with a note stating she had missed earlier billing statements, but that she would send $50.00 every other week until the bill was paid. A month later, the plaintiff sent CBS a money order for $10.00; the same day CBS received the money order, they returned it to the plaintiff with a letter indicating she had agreed to pay $50.00 per installment. The plaintiff’s next payment was for $50.00. She missed the next two payments, so Collection Bureau Services, filed a suit against the plaintiff requesting $1,113.96 for the remaining balance plus service charges and statutory damages of $100 per check, as allowed by the MCA.
Prior to being served, the plaintiff contacted Collection Bureau Services, and began making payments on the balance. CBS accepted the payment and began negotiating a settlement with the plaintiff. During the initial hearing, the plaintiff contested only the additional statutory damages, and the court found in her favor, indicating that by accepting partial payments, CBS had waived its right to statutory damages. Furthermore, CBS’ pursuit of damages after having waived the right to claim them was deemed a violation of the FDCPA, and the plaintiff was awarded $40 in actual damages, $1,000 in statutory damages, $183.75 in court costs, and $17,000 in attorney fees.
The April 2004 hearing was held to determine a verdict on CBS’ appeal of this decision, in which Collection Bureau Services, held that the court erred in in its interpretation of the MCA, and that a bona fide error defense should excuse its violation of the FDCPA. Ultimately, the court upheld the verdict in favor of the plaintiff and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine the amount of attorney fees to be awarded.
Collection Bureau Services, Inc.
212 E. Spruce Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Telephone: (800) 814-2342
Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The FDCPA regulates the behavior of collection agencies by prohibiting actions such as the use of abusive or threatening language; harassment; or the use of false or misleading information to collect a debt.
The FCRA regulates how collection agencies and creditors report delinquent debts to credit reporting agencies. Additional consumer protection laws include the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). The complaint above illustrates how these laws can be extremely effective tools to hold accountable collection agencies who fail to adhere to their provisions.
These laws also provide individuals with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers who have been violated to recover damages of up to $1,000, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Seek legal assistance to find the relief you may be entitled to if you are having difficulty resolving disputes with a debt collection agency.
Your debt harassment checklist:
- You are receiving multiple calls per week from third party collection agencies
- You are receiving early morning or late night calls from debt collectors
- You are recieving calls at work from a debt collection agency
- Debt collectors are calling your friends, neighbors, or coworkers
- Collectors are threatening you with violence, lawsuit, or arrest
- A debt collector attempts to collect more than you owe
- You are being threatened with negative credit reporting
- A debt collector attempts to intimidate you
- Criminal accusations are being made towards you
- Use of obscene language during an attempt to collect
- Automated robocalls are being made to your phone in an attempt to collect
If you’ve been harassed by debt collectors and even one of these has happened to you, we can help. We will fight for your rights.
The Lemberg Law legal team is committed to holding debt collectors accountable, so complete our form for a FREE case evaluation, or call 844-685-9200.
What Our Clients are Saying
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“I won’t be afraid to contact you or recommend your services to others for debt collection difficulties. Please keep up the outstanding work you do, and again, thank you for helping me through this challenging time. I am most grateful.”
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