WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – EZCORP Inc., a small-dollar lender, will pay $10 million for alleged illegal debt collection tactics.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) alleged that EZCORP made illegal visits to consumers at their homes and workplaces. Along with empty threats of action that they would take against these consumers, EZCORP allegedly lied about consumer rights and exposed consumers to bank fees through unlawful electronic withdrawals.
“People struggling to pay their bills should not also fear harassment, humiliation, or negative employment consequences because of debt collectors,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “Borrowers should be treated with common decency. This action and this bulletin are a reminder that we will not tolerate illegal debt collection practices.”
The agreement forces EZCORP to refund $7.5 million to 93,000 consumers. Additionally, it must pay $3 million in penalties and stop trying to collect any remaining debts owed by more than 130,000 consumers. The agreement further bars EZCORP from debt collecting in person.
In addition to this settlement, the CFPB issued an industry-wide warning. Looking especially at lenders and debt collectors, the bureau has noted that any company who attempts to visit a consumer in their home or workplace to collect debt is at risk of violating the Dodd-Frank Act and the Fair Debt Practices Act.