Luther Strange joins national fight against illegal debt collections

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Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said Wednesday he’ll join a coalition of consumer and government groups in weeding out fraudulent and deceptive practices in the nation’s burgeoning debt-collection industry.

Strange will team up with the Federal Trade Commission as part of their new “Operation Collection Protection” initiative, which aims to root out bad actors in debt litigation, sales, and swapping.

“Consumers deserve for debt collections to be handled in an appropriate and legal manner,” said Strange, the state’s highest-ranking prosecutor. “My office is committed to assist consumers who are suffering from mistreatment in debt collections, and to ensure more fair practices.”

A news release trumpeted Strange’s efforts to lead the state’s participation in a recent settlement with Chase Bank USA which has so far turned over about $65,000 to 85 Alabama consumers as part of an estimated $50 million settlement after Chase admitted fault in its credit card collection practices. The case was spurred in part by Operation Collection Protection, which said Wednesday it will pursue 110 new actions against coercive or fraudulent collectors.

Strange also urged Alabamians to call his office’s Consumer Protection Section if they suspect they are being subjected to illegal debt collection practices, or to visit the division’s website at ago.alabama.gov.

Operation Collection Protection initiated approximately 118 actions, according to Strange’s statement, some of which have resulted in debt collectors being barred or suspended. The endeavor has secured more than $180 million in monetary relief and $300 million in judgments and brought criminal charges against some 15 defendants.

Strange, a Republican, was first elected in 2010 and subsequently re-elected last November.

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