September 4, 2012
Burger Chain Puts Collection Agency in Deep Fryer
Who would have thought a corporation would be protecting an employee against the talons of a collection agency?
Whataburger is suing nationally known collection agency NCO, who has a history for making harassing debt collection phone calls. The collection agency refused to stop calling the chain's toll-free number to attempt to collect a debt from an unnamed employee, which is what prompted the action.
Fed-up managers at Whataburger sued NCO for punitive damages, claiming it called the restaurant's customer relations line repeatedly to collect a debt allegedly owed by an employee. Whataburger Restaurants sued NCO Financial Systems in Bexar County Court, San Antonio Texas. It claims the Pennsylvania-based collector has been calling its phone line at least once a day every day.
Whataburger claims NCO blew off a cease-and-desist from letter requesting the collector stop contacting the company.
In the suit, Whataburger alleges that NCO's "disruptive conduct causes phone lines to ring, keeping the phone lines as well as Whataburger employees occupied and prohibiting (them) from performing their respective duties." Among damages sought is $1,000 per call violation after July 16, including at least 27 calls to Whataburger headquarters from NCO.
Whataburger, founded in 1950, has 700 outlets across the country, according to its website. NCO has more than 30,000 employees in 11 countries, making it one of the biggest debt collectors in the country, according to its website.
Whataburger seeks punitive damages for violations of the U.S. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Texas Debt Collection Act. It is represented by Court Smith with Crouch Ramey in Dallas.
Why should you care about a restaurant company fighting back against FDCPA violations? Well, how do you know your bad debt collection agency is not practicing the same methods to collect for you?
When auditing your collection agency, look for systems, which are in place to eliminate the possibility of making FDCPA violations and check into the processes and procedures which keep collectors in check from harassing patients to collect their medical bills.
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