A debt-collection firm backed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)’s private equity unit agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that it illegally harassed consumers.
The fine, the largest levied by the FTC against a third-party debt collector according to an agency news release today, stems from charges that it used tactics including calling consumers multiple times a day, calling them early in the morning or late at night, and calling at consumers’ workplaces. The company, Expert Global Solutions Inc., was also accused by the FTC of continuing to call consumers who denied owing a debt to its clients.
Under the settlement, if a consumer disputes the validity of the debt, the company must either end collection efforts or suspend them until they’ve conducted a “reasonable investigation” to establish the debt’s validity. The agreement also prohibits the company from treating consumers in the manner outlined in the FTC’s charges, according to the agency’s statement.
Tom Hoy, a spokesman for the Expert Global, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The FTC news release describes the company as “the world’s largest debt collection operation.”
JPMorgan’s stake in the firm is held by its private investment arm, One Equity Partners. According to the JPMorgan investment unit’s website, Expert Global is based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, and has revenues of about $2 billion dollars, and 40,000 employees in 14 countries.
To contact the reporter on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at email@example.com