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Focus Financial Services, Inc. (FFS)is a Florida-based third-party collection agency specializing in medical collections. FFS has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) such as attempting to collect debts not owed and improper sharing of information. If you have been contacted by FFS,understand your rights before responding.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Focus Financial Services, Inc.was founded in 1984. The BBB established its profile page in 1988. FFS is listed as a collection agency, a debt consolidation service, and a financial services company that uses the alternate business name, Palm Beach Credit Adjustors, Inc. Buzzfile estimates FFS’ annual revenue at $1.7 million and the size of its staff at 23 people.
According to its website, FFS is a member“of the ACA (American Collectors Association), and NHCA (National Healthcare Collectors Association), and abides by the ethical and professional standards and guidelines as set forth by these organizations, as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.” FFS’ staff “has been trained on how to help you navigate through” situations resulting from delinquent financial obligations, and how to “resolve the outstanding balance.”
FFS’ collection efforts are entirely focused on delinquent medical bills resulting from insurance billing. Specifically, their clients include private healthcare insurance companies, auto insurance accident policies, workers’ compensation insurance, and Medicare and Medicaid.
FFS’ website is aimed at consumers. It provides guidance for site visitors who may have questions about whether their insurance policies cover the expenses of claims relating to billing notices from FFS. For example, patients with private healthcare coverage are advised that they “should contact that insurance carrier to determine if the claim for the account in question was already submitted.” Further, if the insurance “carrier has no record of the claim, FFS will assist…by submitting a claim on your behalf. You will need to contact our office to give us the necessary information.”
Most of the information on the site uses a similar “self-service” approach. There is no additional information about compliance policies, and there are no links or references to consumer protection resources, laws, or agencies.
The BBB has closed 17 complaints against FFS in the past three years, with 6 closed in the past twelve months. Most of the complaints allege problems with billing and collections. Since May 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received 5 complaints about FFS. Justia lists at least 4 cases of civil litigation naming FFS as a defendant.
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases against Focus Financial Services, Inc – FFS.
In May 2017, in the United States District Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, a judge issued a summary judgement in a case alleging FFS had violated certain provisions of the FDCPA. In this case, the plaintiff had incurred three debts as a result of medical treatment. Subsequently the debt was assigned to FFS, who sent the initial collection letter to the plaintiff in July 2015. That letter was returned to FFS, and the plaintiff claimed never to have received it. The second and third debts were assigned to FFS later in July, and FFS again sent the plaintiff collection letters. FFS placed several telephone calls to the plaintiff from late July through mid-August 2015, which the plaintiff did not answer. FFS left voice mail messages. FFS never spoke to the plaintiff and never received any written communication from the plaintiff requesting that FFS cease debt collection efforts.
The plaintiff’s case alleged three separate violations of the FDCPA: failure to provide a written collections notice; harassment; and unconscionable debt practices. On the first count, the plaintiff asserted“that he received no collection notices from Focus.” Generally, the FDCPA requires a debt collector to send written notification of a debt within five days of initial contact. “Failure to provide a written collection notice gives rise to liability for damages.” However, the plaintiff “offered no record evidence…such as a sworn affidavit, to support this claim—only unsworn assertions, which cannot create a genuine issue of material fact to defeat summary judgment.” FFS’ director testified that FFS had mailed the letters, and the court held that the plaintiff’s not having received them did not prove that they had not been sent. The plaintiff also asserted that FFS’ telephone calls amounted to harassment because he was registered with the “National Do Not Call Registry, and FFS called him at disruptive hours, called and left voicemails an excessive number of times, and failed to mail him written collection notices.” Unfortunately, similar to his claims on the first count, his claims on the second count were not accompanied with evidence to prove a violation; moreover, the National Do Not Call Registry applies to telemarketers, but not to debt collectors. On the final count, the plaintiff asserted that because FFS’ policies and procedures “permit practices the FDCPA prohibits such as harassing and abusive debt collection calls, threats of legal action, use of abusive language, and provision of false information,” they violated the FDCPA’s prohibition against “using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.” Unfortunately, the court again found that the plaintiff’s misinterpretation of the law, combined with an absence of certifiable evidence, required that they dismiss his claim.
Focus Financial Services, Inc.
3800 S. Congress Ave., Suite 3
Boynton Beach Fl. 33426
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.
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