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U.S. Collections West, Inc. (USCW) is a third-party collection agency based in Arizona. USCW has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), including illegal communication tactics and misrepresentation. If you have been contacted by USCW, make sure you understand your rights before responding.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), USCW was founded and incorporated in 1986. The BBB opened its file in 1988. USCW is listed as a collection agency and has a secondary website located at www.ethicalaz.com/uscollectionswestinc. Buzzfile estimates USCW’s annual revenue at $4.4 million and the size of its staff at 42 people.
According to its primary website at www.uscollectionswest.com, USCW “incorporates innovation and experience to produce the leading percentiles for our customers.” USCW collects “all types of debt” and does not specify or limit the industries it serves. Their collection services include civil debt litigation, pre-collect service, credit reporting, consumer online payment solutions, and online client login.
USCW’s collection staff accepts accounts on a contingency basis and also purchases debt. Their contingency rates are based on the age of the account; the account balance; the volume of accounts placed; and the type of account with regard to its “collect-ability.” USCW pays court costs and attorney fees for litigated claims up front. Pre-collect services include standard per-letter rates for litigated and non-litigated accounts. USCW offers several options for clients interested in assigning accounts for collection.
The USCW website contains a client service guarantee, but no references or links to consumer protection resources, laws, or agencies. There is also no information about USCW’s compliance policies or employee training.
The BBB has closed 23 complaints against USCW in the past three years, with 9 complaints closed in the past 12 months. Almost all of those complaints allege problems with billing and collection. Since April 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has closed 33 complaints against USCW. Justia lists 6 cases of civil litigation naming USCW as a defendant.
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases against U.S. Collections West, Inc – USCW.
In June 1998, in United States District Court for the District of Arizona, a judge issued a Memorandum and Order in a case alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). In this case, the plaintiff had rented an apartment in 1995 and later defaulted on the lease. The property manager for the apartment complex obtained a judgment against the plaintiff and assigned it to USCW for collection. In 1996, USCW mailed the plaintiff four letters, each attempting to collect a different amount. Later in 1996, USCW filed an Application for Writ of Garnishment of the plaintiff’s earnings with an assignment to the property management company in the amount of $832.80. The amount of the judgment in the writ entered by Scottsdale Justice Court was $702.77. The USCW representative who applied for the writ was not an attorney.
The plaintiff cited violations of the FDCPA on four counts:
1. The difference in the amount of the debt stated in the assignment and the writ constituted a violation of the FDCPA’s prohibition against “falsely representing the amount of a debt in order to collect a debt.”
2. The non-attorney USCW representative’s signing of the application for writ of garnishment violated the FDCPA’s prohibition against using “any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt,” because such actions can only be taken by an attorney.
3. The act of filing the application for the writ of garnishment constituted a violation of the FDCPA’s prohibition against threatening to take actions that cannot legally be taken.
4. USCW’s actions constituted actions intended to “harass, oppress, or abuse” a debtor.
USCW argued that its violation on count 1 should be excused on the basis of the “bona fide error” defense because it relied on the figures supplied by the property manager. The court disagreed, because the “bona fide error” defense only works when the accused can prove that they had a process in place to prevent the error and used it. The court found in favor of the plaintiff on count 2, citing the Arizona Supreme Court’s broad definition of “practice of law,” and the requirement that practitioners be registered with the Arizona State Bar. USCW attempted to argue it was not guilty on count 3 because they did not threaten to take actions they could not legally take; they actually took the action. The court disagreed and found for the plaintiff. However, the court found that the plaintiff had not carried the burden of proof showing an intent to “harass, oppress, or abuse,” so left that issue for a jury to decide.
U.S. Collections West, Inc.
P.O. Box 39695
Phoenix, AZ 85069
Telephone: (888) 254-6967
Understanding your Debt Collection Rights
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are federal laws that regulate how collection agencies may conduct themselves.
The FDCPA prohibits actions such as the use of abusive or threatening language; or the use of false or misleading information to collect a debt.
The FCRA regulates how collection agencies report information to credit reporting agencies.Additional consumer protection laws include the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The complaints above illustrate why it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under these laws when attempting to communicate with collection agencies.
These laws also provide individuals with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers to recover damages of up to $1,000, plus attorney fees and court costs, in cases proving violations of the FDCPA. Seek legal assistance if you are having difficulty resolving a dispute with a collection agency.
If you’ve been harassed by debt collectors, 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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