A Congressman from New York is asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to open an investigation into the debt collection practices of a collection agency working on behalf of Spectrum Cable, seeking to determine whether the allegations amount to violations of federal law.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi [D-N.Y.] outlined his concerns in a letter to Kathy Kraninger, the director of the CFPB, that was sent yesterday.
Spectrum Cable is owned by Charter Communications. The letter from Rep. Brindisi mentioned Spectrum’s “collection partner,” a company called Credit Management L.P., which is based in Plano, Texas, according to the letter.
The letter references a couple of anecdotal examples, including one individual who was notified by Credit Management that there was a balance on the individual’s account “long after” the service was canceled, without the individual ever hearing from Spectrum about the debt. As well, Rep. Brindisi cites complaints about individuals receiving bills for equipment, such as remote controls, that were never returned to the cable company when service was canceled.
Rep. Brindisi outlined five objectives he wanted to see the CFPB accomplish with its investigation:
- The extent to which Credit Management L.P. is contacting customers on behalf of cable companies to collect on debts stemming from services already paid-for and equipment already returned;
- The extent to which Credit Management L.P. is attempting to collect on debts stemming from equipment, as opposed to non-payment for services;
- Where these debt collection practices are most prevalent, and if certain regions of the country are being unfairly targeted;
- How Spectrum and Credit Management L.P. are handling the personal information of customers, including social security numbers and other identifying data; and
- Whether collection practices related to Spectrum and other cable companies violate federal law.
In a published report, a spokeswoman for Charter Communications said the company does everything it can before placing accounts with third-party agencies.
“Charter makes every effort to collect unpaid charges and company-owned equipment like DVRs at the time a customer disconnects,” said Lara Pritchard, senior director of communications for Charter’s northeast region. “When we utilize third parties to collect unpaid charges and unreturned equipment well after the cancellation date, all debt collection efforts are conducted in accordance with state and federal law.”
Rep. Brindisi also sent a copy of the letter to the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee, requesting a hearing on “the debt collection practices of cable companies like Spectrum and their partnerships with collection firms like Credit Management L.P.”