Patenaude & Felix , APC (P&F) is a Southern California law firm that specializes in debt collection. P&F has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), including illegal communication tactics and threatening to take illegal actions. If you have been contacted by P&F, understand your rights before responding.
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According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Patenaude & Felix, A Professional Corporation, was founded in 1987 and incorporated in 1997. The BBB opened its file about five months after P&F’s incorporation date, in August 1997. P&F is listed as both a law firm and a collection agency and employs 115 people. Buzzfile estimates P&F’s annual revenue at $18.7 million.
According to its website, P&F’s mission is “to provide…clients with the Gold Standard of legal collections in a professional and technologically advanced manner.” They cite consistently high liquidation and recovery rates, long-term client relationships, and award-winning management as the primary indicators of their success in the collections industry.
However, their website does not offer any specific details about the services they provide. Their services page does not identify the industries in which their collections staff is active, nor does it specify the tools or techniques it uses in its debt collection efforts. Instead, it merely states that its multi-lingual in-house staff is fluent in French, Tagalog, and Spanish.
In fact, P&F appears to rely almost entirely on computer automation for effectiveness. Its technology page cites a state-of-the-art “collection software system, with an innovative rules engine, [to enable] the design and implementation of automated workflows that maximize the efficiency of legal and pre-suit recovery efforts.”Even their legal compliance efforts are automated with “built in alerts for potential FDCPA violations and real-time control over the work queues [that] ensure…accounts are always actively worked in a professional manner with the highest levels of flexibility and security.”
Their site does not contain any references or links to consumer resources, protection laws, or agencies.
As of October 2017, the BBB has closed 5 complaints against P&F in the preceding three years, with 3 complaints closed in the past 12 months. All of these complaints allege problems with billing and collections. Since April 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has closed 48 complaints against P&F. Justia lists at least 23 cases of civil litigation naming P&F as a defendant.
Patenaude & Felix, APC
4545 Murphy Canyon Road, 3rd Fl.
San Diego, CA 92123
It is illegal for a debt collector to threaten to sue you or garnish your wages. It is also unlikely P&F would sue you for a debt you may not owe or they cannot validate. However, debt collection agencies are known to have summoned debtors to court and garnish wages after a default judgement. Contacting an attorney BEFORE this could possibly happen would be a smart move. We’ve helped thousands of consumers fight back against unscrupulous debt collection harassers. Find out if we can help you too today!
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Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases
In June 2017, in United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, a judge issued a Decision and Order regarding a case charging P&F with violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). In this case, the plaintiff incurred a financial obligation with TD Bank and then defaulted. The original creditor placed the debt with P&F for collection. In May 2016, the plaintiff received a letter from P&F that indicated the plaintiff’s “‘debt [had] been assigned to [P&F] to initiate collection efforts,’ and refer[red] to the creditor as the firm’s client.” The plaintiff assumed from the wording of the letter that P&F had been hired to aggressively pursue debt collection, ultimately with legal action, and that in order to avoid a lawsuit, she would have to call P&F. The plaintiff alleged that the letter did not make it clear to her that P&F had not been retained to file a lawsuit, or that P&F does not employ any attorneys licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, where she was residing. She alleged that P&F’s collection practices are largely automated and that their form letters stating, “If you wish to avoid further collection activity, please contact us at (866) 606-3290,” contain “false, deceptive, and misleading” language that “suggests to an unsophisticated consumer that the only way to prevent further collection activity is to call” P&F, which is “inconsistent with the consumer’s right to request, in writing, that a debt collector cease further communication.” Thus, the plaintiff alleges violations of the FDCPA, Sections 1692e, 1692e(3), 1692e(10), 1692f, and 1692g, by denying her the right to certain information necessary for successful resolution of the debt collection claim.
P&F objected on the grounds that because she did not suffer a tangible injury, she had no standing to bring the claim. The court disagreed, citing case law that upholds interpretations of the legal definition of an “injury in fact” that allow for the inclusion of intangible injuries, as long as those injuries are actual and not merely theoretical or procedural. In this case, the court determined that “the purpose of the FDCPA is to protect consumers from certain harmful debt collection practices and create a private right of action for consumers, namely, the right to be free
from ‘false, deceptive or misleading’ information.” Furthermore, the confusion resulting from the false information contained in P&F’s letter “is precisely the harm Congress ‘sought to curb’ in enacting the FDCPA.” As a result, P&F’s objection to the plaintiff’s allegations was denied.
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 receiving 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.
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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 NOW.
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