IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ATLANTA DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,

v.

NATIONWIDE CREDIT, INC., a corporation, Defendant.

Civil Action No.

CONSENT DECREE

WHEREAS: Plaintiff, the United States of America, has commenced this action by filing the Complaint herein; defendant has waived service of the Summons and Complaint; the parties have been represented by the attorneys whose names appear hereafter; and the parties have agreed to settlement of this action upon the following terms and conditions, without adjudication of any issue of fact or law and without defendant admitting liability for any of the matters alleged in the Complaint;

THEREFORE, on the joint motion of plaintiff and defendant, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED as follows:

1. This Court has jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the parties.

2. The Complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted against the defendant under Sections 5(m)(1)(A), 9, 13(b), and 16(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), 15 U.S.C. 45(m)(1)(A), 49, 53(b), and 56(a), and Section 814 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCP Act”), 15 U.S.C. 16921.

3. For purposes of this Consent Decree, the definitions set forth in the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, shall apply.

CIVIL PENALTY

4. Defendant Nationwide Credit, Inc. (“Nationwide”), its successors and assigns, shall pay to plaintiff, pursuant to Section 5(m)(1)(A) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(m)(1)(A), a civil penalty in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) due and payable on or before the fifth day following entry of this Consent Decree. Unless otherwise directed, payment shall be made by electronic fund transfer in accordance with procedures specified by the Office of Consumer Litigation, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530.

5. In the event of any default in payment, which default continues for ten days beyond the due date of payment, the entire unpaid penalty, together with interest, as computed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1961 from the date of default to the date of payment, shall immediately become due and payable.

INJUNCTION

6. Defendant and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, their successors and assigns, and their officers, agents, servants and employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with any one or more of them who receive actual notice of this Consent Decree by personal service or otherwise, are hereby permanently enjoined, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division or other device, in connection with the collection of a “debt” from a “consumer” as those terms are defined in Sections 803(3) and (5) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692a(3) and (5), from:

a) Making any telephone call to a consumer at any unusual time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer, including between the hours of 9:00 o'clock PM and 8:00 o'clock AM local time zone at the consumer's location, without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the defendant or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, in violation of Section 805(a)(1) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692c(a)(1);
 
b) Communicating with a consumer at the consumer's place of employment when defendant knows or has reason to know either that (i) the consumer's employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication or (ii) it is inconvenient for the consumer to receive such communication, in violation of Section 805(a)(1) or (3) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692c(a)(1) or (3);
 
c) Except as provided in Section 804 of the FDCP Act, communicating or threatening to communicate with any person other than the consumer, the consumer’s attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the creditor’s attorney, or the debt collector’s attorney, in connection with the collection of a debt, for any purpose other than to obtain location information about the consumer not previously known to defendant, unless defendant has the prior consent of the consumer given directly to defendant, or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, or defendant can show that such communication is reasonably necessary to effectuate a post judgment judicial remedy, in violation of Section 805(b) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692c(b);
 
d) Engaging in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress or abuse any person, including but not limited to using profane or obscene language, or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader, in violation of Section 806(2) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692d(2);
 
e) Causing a telephone to ring continuously or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly, in violation of Section 806(5) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692d(5);
 
f) Using any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt, in violation of Section 807 of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e, including but not limited to (i) representing or implying that nonpayment of a debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person, or the seizure, attachment, garnishment, or sale of any property or wages of any person, unless such action is lawful and the defendant or the creditor intends to take such action, in violation of Section 807(4) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e(4); (ii) representing or implying that any action will be taken, unless, at the time of the representation, such action is lawful and is intended to be taken or that any action may be taken, when defendant cannot show that, at the time of the representation, there is a reasonable likelihood that such action will be taken, in violation of Section 807(5) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e(5);
 
g) Failing to notify consumers of their right to dispute the validity and obtain verification of the debts defendant is attempting to collect and to obtain the name of the original creditor, in the manner set forth in Section 809(a) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692g(a); provided further that in the event that the written notice required by Section 809(a) is returned to defendant undelivered and defendant does not return the account to the creditor, defendant shall promptly make a reasonable effort to obtain the consumer’s current address and, after the current address is obtained, defendant shall, within five (5) days and before resuming collection activity, remail such notice to the consumer;
 
h) Continuing to attempt to collect debts when consumers have notified defendant in writing that the debts or any portion thereof are disputed and before verification of the debts is provided, in violation of Section 809(b) of the FDCP Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692g(b); and
 
i) Engaging in any other act or practice that would violate the FDCP Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 1692.

7. With respect to every consumer debt received for collection, beginning sixty (60) days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, and their successors and assigns, shall for a period of five years make the following disclosure clearly and conspicuously on each written collection communication that is sent to a consumer:

Collection agencies must comply with a federal law that provides consumers certain rights. One of these is the right to have us stop communicating with you about this debt. If you write to us and ask us to stop communicating with you, we will. But if you owe this debt, you will still owe it and your creditor may continue to collect it from you. If you have any concerns with the way we are collecting this debt, write to our RESPONSE CENTER, P. O. Box 161407, Atlanta, GA 30374 or call us toll-free at 1-800-540-6364 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm ET Monday - Friday.

8. Defendant and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, and their successors and assigns, shall maintain for a period of five years the following information with respect to each consumer who contacts defendant at the address or toll-free telephone number required to be disclosed pursuant to paragraph 7 of this Consent Decree:

a) The consumer’s name, address and telephone number;
 
b) The creditor’s name;
 
c) Each letter or other form of written communication received from the consumer;
 
d) The nature of the contact, i.e, either complaint or information request, as reflected
in any logs or notes of the contact, including a description of the conduct alleged or
the information requested;
 
e) The name, office and position of each employee whose conduct is the subject of
any consumer complaint;
 
f) The disposition of any consumer complaint, including records of all contacts with
the consumer, whether the complaint was resolved and any other records that relate to
the disposition of the matter;
 
g) Any action taken to correct alleged conduct that violates the FDCP Act.

9. Defendant, and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, and their successors and assigns, shall provide written notice of the disposition of the complaint to each consumer who makes an oral or written complaint at the address or via the toll-free telephone number required to be disclosed pursuant to paragraph 7 of this Consent Decree. Such notice shall conform in substance with the form attached hereto as Appendix A.

PERSONS AFFECTED; CONTINUING JURISDICTION

10. Defendant, and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, and their successors and assigns, shall provide a copy of the following notice to all employees having responsibility with respect to the collection of debts, within sixty (60) days of the date of entry of this Consent Decree, and to each such employee hired for a period of ten (10) years after that date, no later than the time the employee assumes responsibility with respect to the collection of debts, and shall secure from each such person a signed statement acknowledging receipt of a copy of the notice, which notice shall be maintained in the employee’s personnel file, and made available upon request for inspection by the Division of Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington D.C. 20580, pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 13 of this Consent Decree:

Debt collectors must comply with the federal Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act, which limits our activities in trying to collect money
from consumers. Individual debt collectors may be financially liable
for their violations of the Act.

11. Defendant and any of its subsidiaries engaged in activity subject to the FDCP Act, and their successors and assigns, shall provide a copy of this Consent Decree and the FDCP Act to each of their officers, directors, employees and other persons having responsibility for creating or implementing collection policies and procedures, secure from each such person a signed statement acknowledging receipt of a copy of this Consent Decree and the FDCP Act, and institute a compulsory training program for all employees, having responsibility with respect to the collection of debts, designed to fully acquaint them with the content and meaning of this Consent Decree. Defendant shall comply with this provision with respect to all employees within the scope of this Paragraph within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of entry of this Consent Decree and, for ten (10) years thereafter, with respect to all new employees having responsibility with respect to the collection of debts, as part of defendant’s regular training program for new employees. Within ten (10) days of first complying with this paragraph, defendant shall file an affidavit with the Court and serve the Federal Trade Commission, by mailing a copy thereof, to the Associate Director for Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Washington, D.C. 20580, setting forth the fact and manner of their compliance, including who has attended and successfully completed the compulsory training program.

12. The compulsory training program to which Paragraph 11 refers shall consist of the following:

a) An explanation and discussion of the background of this Consent Decree, including a description of the allegations of the Complaint;
 
b) A detailed summary of the provisions of this Consent Decree;
 
c) A discussion and analysis of the kinds of conduct that would violate this Consent
Decree or the FDCP Act;
 
d) A description of the potential legal consequences, both to defendant and to individuals within defendant who either create or implement defendant’s debt collection policies and procedures, of violating this Consent Decree or the FDCP Act; and
 
e) A discussion of the provisions of the FDCP Act and the Commission’s Official Staff Commentary on the Act.

The program shall be at least one half day in length and must be conducted by one or more persons with expertise in the FDCP Act and the provisions of this Consent Decree. It shall be first presented within one hundred twenty days (120) of the date of entry of this Consent Decree to all employees within the scope of Paragraph 10 and, for ten (10) years thereafter, to all new employees having responsibility with respect to the collection of debts, as part of defendant’s regular training program for such new employees.

Not later than ninety (90) days from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant shall submit for review and approval to the Associate Director, Division of Credit Practices, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, a draft syllabus for the program and drafts of any materials to be disseminated during the program. Once the syllabus and materials are approved, no material changes may be made without further prior approval from the Associate Director.

13. Defendant, its successors and assigns, shall, within sixty (60) days of the date of the entry of this Consent Decree, and once each year thereafter for ten (10) years within thirty (30) days of the anniversary of that date, file with the Associate Director for Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, a written report setting forth in detail the manner and form of its compliance with this Consent Decree.

14. For a period of ten (10) years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant, its successors and assigns, shall maintain and make available to the Federal Trade Commission, within thirty (30) days of receipt of a written request, business records demonstrating compliance with the terms and provisions of this Consent Decree.

15. For a period of ten (10) years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant, its successors and assigns, shall notify the Associate Director for Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, at least thirty (30) days prior to any change in defendant's business including, but not limited to, merger, incorporation, dissolution, assignment, sale which results in the emergence of a successor corporation, the creation or dissolution of a subsidiary or parent, or any other change which may affect defendant's obligations under this Consent Decree.

16. This Court shall retain jurisdiction of this matter for the purpose of enabling any of the parties to this Consent Decree to apply to the Court at any time for such further orders or directives as may be necessary or appropriate for the interpretation or modification of this Consent Decree, for the enforcement of compliance therewith, or for the punishment of violations thereof.

JUDGMENT IS THEREFORE ENTERED in favor of plaintiff and against defendant, pursuant to all the terms and conditions recited above.

Dated this day of , 19 .

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The parties, by their respective counsel, hereby consent to the terms and conditions of the Consent Decree as set forth above and consent to the entry thereof. Defendant waives any rights that may arise under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412, amended by Pub. L. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847, 863-64 (1996).

FOR DEFENDANT
NATIONWIDE CREDIT, INC.

By:________________
Jerrold Kaufman
Chief Executive Officer

__________________
Sheldon Feldman
Attorney for Defendant

FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:

FRANK W. HUNGER
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Division
U.S. Department of Justice

RICHARD H. DEANE, JR.
United States Attorney
Northern District of Georgia

By:__________________________
Assistant United States Attorney

EUGENE THIROLF
Director
Office of Consumer Litigation

By:__________________________
Attorney
Office of Consumer Litigation
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington D.C. 20530

FOR THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION:

__________________________
DAVID MEDINE
Associate Director
for Credit Practices

__________________________
LUCY MORRIS
Assistant Director
for Credit Practices

__________________________
ANTHONY E. DIRESTA
Regional Director

__________________________
KATHARINE B. ALPHIN
Attorney
Atlanta Regional Office
404-656-1350
Georgia Bar No. 013675