McKenna settles with collection agency

Nick Rees Jan. 8, 2010, 2:45pm


SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - As part of a settlement with Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, an Everett-based collection agency has agreed not to harass, threaten or cuss at consumers.

Topco Financial Services Inc., and its officials were sued by the Attorney General's Office in February. The suit accused them of violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act.

The state's complaint alleged that representatives of Topco used profanity, called debtors names and threatened to take further action beyond the legal authority of the company.

The State, as part of a settlement filed on Dec. 22 in Snohomish County Superior Court, agreed to dismiss civil charges against individuals provided that the company agreed to comply with certain restriction on how its employees communicate with consumers. The agreement contains no finding or admission of wrongdoing.

Under terms of the agreement, Topco is now prohibited from communicating in a harassing, intimidating, threatening or embarrassing manner, including using profanity, from a debtor or anyone else.

Topco must also not imply that failure to pay a debt will result in a revocation, suspension or impairment of the debtor's driver's license.

The settlement also requires that Topco not threaten debtors with impairment of their credit rating. The company is allowed, however, to lawfully report debts to credit-reporting agencies.

Topco will pay $5,000 in civil penalties as part of the settlement as well as $33,000 in attorneys' fees and legal costs. An additional $70,000 in civil penalties and $12,000 in fees and costs was suspended provided that Topco complies with the terms of the settlement.

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