According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Texas employs more debt collectors than nearly any other state. The Southwest Region (SWR) has therefore been active in enforcement and outreach activities directed to the debt collection industry and related financial service providers. In recent years, SWR staff has brought more than ten enforcement actions to enforce the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other laws, including United Recovery Systems, Inc. (2002), Whitewing Financial Group, Inc. (2006), Tono Records (2007), LTD Financial Services, L.P. (2007), Luebke Baker Associates, Inc. (2012), Goldman Schwartz, Inc. (2013), RTB Enterprises, Inc. (2014), Commercial Recovery Systems, Inc. (2015), Credit Protection Association (2016), Warrant Enforcement Division (2016), and American Municipal Services Corporation (2017). These cases resulted in nine permanent bans on debt collection activities, the assessment of more than $6,600,000 in civil penalties, and judgments of nearly $8,340,000 in equitable monetary relief.
SWR has also brought numerous cases challenging the practices of companies purporting to provide credit repair or debt settlement, including Debt Consultants of America, Inc., Debt Relief USA, Inc., RMCN Credit Services, Inc., United Debt Counselors, LLC, and Student Aid Center, Inc. In 2015, SWR teamed up with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Financial Practices, to hold a Debt Collection Roundtable discussion with industry players in Dallas. That same year, the SWR originated and led the Commission’s first joint state and federal law enforcement initiative to combat abusive or deceptive debt collection practices. Operation Collection Protection ultimately resulted in the announcement of 165 law enforcement actions by the FTC and more than 65 of its local, state, federal, and international partners. From that effort, SWR established the Collection Protection group, a working group that includes the FTC, CFPB, DOJ, 47 state Attorneys General, and 18 state regulatory agencies; the group meets quarterly to discuss debt collection trends and issues and to coordinate investigations.