We have repeatedly sued AFNI, a national collection agency, for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. AFNI’s response has always been to deny its wrongful conduct and to say any “mistakes” were isolated incidents. This week the Attorney General of Minnesota had to file suit against AFNI.
Here is a quote from the press release:
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson today filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court against AFNI, Inc., an Illinois debt collection agency, for attempting to collect debts from Minnesota citizens who stated they did not actually owe the debts and for failing to substantiate debt that consumers stated they did not owe.
The lawsuit alleges that AFNI used unfair collection techniques to attempt to collect debts that Minnesota consumers stated they did not believe they owe, and that AFNI did not adequately verify the validity of debts to ensure it was collecting the debt from the right people. As a result, AFNI repeatedly contacted Minnesota consumers in an attempt to collect debts, some up to ten years old, that in some cases were not actually owed by the citizens.
“In this troubled economy, many people are struggling to pay their bills. Debt collectors are entitled to pursue payment of legitimate debts, but they must do so fairly and in compliance with the law,” Swanson said.
The lawsuit alleges that AFNI continued collection efforts, rather than verify the legitimacy of the debt, after citizens informed AFNI that it was attempting to collect the debt from the wrong person. In response to AFNI’s requests, Minnesota consumers sometimes provided private information, including social security numbers and police reports of identity theft, to prove that AFNI was collecting the debt from the wrong person, but that even after being provided with this requested information, AFNI sometimes continued its collection efforts.
AFNI also sometimes reported invalid “debts” to credit bureaus without verifying that the debts were actually owed by the citizen and did not take the action necessary to remove the debts from consumers’ credit reports.
Congratulations for this strong stance in favor of consumers by the Attorney General Lori Swanson.
If you are dealing with this debt collector, be careful and document everything. If you live in Alabama and would like to discuss your options and whether AFNI or any other debt collector has violated federal or state law, please contact us.
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