Target Settles Illegal Debt Collection Practices Class-Action Lawsuit for $2.3 Million
If you are a consumer, there are limits to what debt collectors can do in terms of contacting you for payment of a debt. If they cross a certain legal line, they can even be made to pay for their actions. The Debt Collection Practices Act, or even state laws, allows for civil lawsuits to be filed against overaggressive debt collectors who break the law. this is exactly what happened to Target's debt collection subsidiary when it repeatedly called debtors to try to collect their payment. The debtors fought back, filing a class-action lawsuit that Target just settled for $2.3 million. This is just the latest example of consumers using the legal process to right a wrong.
Target's Debt Collecting Subsidiary Called Debtors Too Often
Many consumers likely did not know that Target has its own subsidiary that engages in debt collection. Gabrielle Carson learned this the hard way when the company's debt collectors called her repeatedly in a one-week span. In fact, she was called six times in the week by the debt collector. However, there is a state law in Massachusetts that limits debt collectors to no more than two calls over a seven-day span. Target's actions allegedly violated state law.
Thousands of other people who owed debts also reported receiving frequent phone calls from Target's debt collectors in violation of state law. Carson filed the lawsuit and was soon joined by thousands of other class members. There were records of the frequent phone calls so Target obviously could not factually deny that they occurred. Instead, the company promptly began to negotiate a settlement. The company agreed on a settlement number with the plaintiffs before the case could go to trial. A federal judge approved the settlement on March 23. The settlement in the case came rather quickly as there were not many issues that were in dispute. As a result, the judge awarded the plaintiffs' lawyers less than their customary one-third share of the settlement proceeds.
As the named plaintiff in the case, Carson received $7,500 as her share of the settlement. Other plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit are eligible to receive roughly $300 after the attorneys receive their share of the settlement. As part of the settlement, Target did not admit any wrongdoing.
Target Has Been Sued for This in Other States
There have been numerous other cases filed against Target in connection with its aggressive debt collection practices. Apparently, frequent calls to debtors may have gone on over six years. Massachusetts is not the only state that has strict limits on how and when debt collectors may contact consumers. There was also another case filed against Target in its home state of Minnesota that resulted in a settlement. In that case, the settlement was for approximately $2 million. This resulted in a payment to class members of approximately $70. Even those who were not debtors but still received the calls on their cell phones were able to file for their part of the settlement so long as they were able to prove that they received the calls.
Given the fact that this Target subsidiary operated in many different states, there is the possibility for numerous additional lawsuits to be filed against Target. If you have received improper calls from a debt collector, you may be entitled to compensation as a result. Improper can consist of calls that were at an inappropriate time or were simply too frequent. It is difficult for the company to dispute that these phone calls occurred if you have proof of them in your phone records. As a result, companies are often forced to quickly settle aggressive debt collection lawsuits since the proof is easy to bring. The payments may not be large, but they are some compensation for the inconvenience which you have been forced to bear due to harassing or overeager debt collectors.
As you can see from Carson's case, there is an incentive to be the first one to report this conduct to an attorney and to become the named plaintiff in a lawsuit. If you have received these phone calls, make sure to contact a lawyer within the applicable statute of limitations within your state to see if you can file a lawsuit for illegal debt collection practices. Companies must not be allowed to flout laws that exist to protect consumers from the practices that Carson and other consumers were forced to endure.
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