According to a CFPB press release, the Bureau
filed a proposed settlement to resolve a lawsuit against a debt collection enterprise and its owner. The CFPB alleges that Fair Collections & Outsourcing (FCO) violated federal law by failing to establish or implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of the information it furnished to credit reporting agencies and failed to conduct reasonable investigations of indirect consumer disputes, resulting in inaccurate information remaining on consumers’ credit reports. The CFPB also alleges that FCO and its owner, Michael Sobota, violated federal law when FCO represented that consumers owed certain debts when, in fact, FCO did not have a reasonable basis to assert that the consumers owed those debts. If entered by the court, the settlement would require FCO and Sobota to put in place reasonable policies and procedures to prevent future violations and pay a $850,000 civil money penalty.
According to the 2019 complaint, “FCO and Sobota operate the largest debt-collection company in the multiunit-housing industry, and they collect debt on behalf of large apartment complexes, including student and military housing, and assisted-living facilities.”
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More