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Grant Mercantile Agency or GMA is third-party collection agency based in Southern California. GMA has received complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), including attempting to collect debts not owed and using false or misleading language in an effort to collect a debt. If you have been contacted by GMA, make sure you understand your rights before responding.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Grant Mercantile Agency, Inc. was founded in 1972 and incorporated in 1986. The BBB established a profile page for GMA in 1990. GMA is listed as a collection agency that uses the alternate business name, Yankee, Inc. Buzzfile estimates GMA’s annual revenue at $3.8 million and the size of its staff at 30 employees.
According to its website, GMA “has been helping businesses…increase cash flow, recoveries, and profits for more than four decades.” GMA advertises superior customer service and “exceptional recoveries.” GMA’s “consistent work ethic and innovative collection services have earned them an excellent reputation for…professionalism, courtesy, and positive public relations.” In addition, GMA’s staff is “trained to assist debtors as counselors and advisors…to help…debtors repay their debts as quickly as possible.”
GMA collects delinquent debts for four main industries: government, healthcare, retail, and commercial. GMA’s government division collects delinquent accounts on behalf of “city and county entities, utilities, county healthcare facilities, judgements, and license and traffic fees.” Their healthcare division “has decades of experience collecting for all facets of the healthcare environment,” and promises its clients “high recoveries…resulting from the efforts of…skilled, courteous, and professional staff…and distinguished technological capabilities.” GMA’s retail division maximizes “recoveries for…retail clients…by accepting payments by check, credit card, and check-by-phone.” Finally, GMA’s commercial division offers “business to business collections for…receivable partners, including some of America’s finest corporations.”
As for compliance, GMA claims to “have been recognized by their peers and trade organizations for their academic achievements, dedicated service, and contributions to…the industry” and advertises “strict compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations, including those contained in the California Civil Code, the Robbins-Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), and the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).” However, their website does not provide links or references to consumer protection resources or enforcement agencies, and their contact form does not include a disclaimer identifying them as a bill collector.
The BBB has closed 9 complaints against Grant Mercantile Agency in the past three years, with 1 complaint closed in the past 12 months. Most of those complaints allege problems with advertising and sales, with only 2 alleging problems with billing and collections. Since June 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has closed 23 complaints against GMA, and Justia lists at least 4 cases of civil litigation involving GMA.
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases against GMA
In December 2017, in United States District Court, Eastern District of California, a judge issued Findings and Recommendations in a case alleging Grant Mercantile Agency had violated several provisions of the federal FDCPA, as well as California’s state Rosenthal FDCPA and the state Business and Professions Code. According to the facts in this case, the plaintiff had received medical treatment for a back injury in 2014. She was initially billed in 2015 by the healthcare provider for $767.00, which represented the cost of treatment at $877.00, less a payment by her insurance company of $110.00. In March 2017, the plaintiff mailed a check for $767.00 as payment in full to the healthcare provider. Subsequently, the plaintiff received a letter from GMA requesting that the plaintiff send them a check for the medical bill she had just paid. The letter stated that she owed the principal amount of $877.00 and $206.15 in interest, for a total of $1,083.15. GMA allegedly sent three additional letters to the plaintiff. The first of these three letters acknowledged the $767.00 payment the plaintiff had already made, but requested payment for the remaining balance of $110.00, plus an interest payment of $208.58. The second letter also acknowledged the $110.00 insurance payment but requested payment of $209.09 in interest. The third and final letter simply demanded payment for interest charges of $209.09.
The letters failed to identify the original creditor, thereby violating the FDCPA provision against the use of “false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.” In addition, the plaintiff asserted that the charges listed in the letters constituted an “attempt to collect an inaccurate amount of debt and…falsely represented the character, amount, or legal status of the debt.” As a result, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the letters sent by GMA violated sections 1692g(a)(2), 1692e, 1692e(2)(A), and 1692f(1) of the federal FDCPA; and section 1788.13(e) of the California FDCPA. She sought $1,000 in statutory damages for the federal FDCPA violations; $1,000 in statutory damages for the state FDCPA violations; and court costs and attorney fees, for a total of $6,010.00. The plaintiff served the complaint on GMA representatives in August 2017 and provided sufficient proof of service to the court prior to the trial. GMA representatives failed to respond, so the plaintiff requested that the Clerk of the Court enter a default judgement in her favor for the full amount she had requested. The judge could not find any error of fact in her pleading; agreed that GMA’s conduct constituted a violation of state and federal FDCPA laws; and agreed to enter a default judgement in her favor. However, he reduced the amount of the total award, awarding the plaintiff $600 each in statutory damages for violations of state and federal laws; and attorney fees and court costs of $3,737.00, for a total award of $4,937.00.
Grant Mercantile Agency, Inc.
49099 Road 426
Oakhurst, Calif. 93644
Telephone: (800) 821-7530
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.
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