Washington AG Reaches Settlement with Debt Collector to Resolve Lawsuit Concerning Its Alleged Failure to Offer Garnishment Exemptions and Collection of Unlawful Fees

On June 8, 2020 the Washington Attorney General’s office (Washington AG) announced that a consent order had been reached with a Colorado-based debt collection agency that would require the agency to pay $475,000 to approximately 5,000 Washington consumers to resolve a lawsuit originally filed in April 2020 in Washington state court.  In the lawsuit, the Washington AG alleged that the debt collection agency violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and Collection Agency Act when it purportedly failed to offer consumers garnishment exemptions, and allegedly assessed unlawful  fees and costs despite not collecting any money from consumers. In addition, the agency allegedly failed to have a required license for approximately one year beginning in August 2011.

The consent order also requires the agency to forgive up to $250,000 in fees and costs, and pay $414,000 to the AG’s office for enforcement costs.  Additionally, the order further prohibits the agency from further engaging in unlawful collection practices, and requires the company to return money collected from one Washington consumer who received​ a garnishment notice during a COVID-19 garnishment moratorium.