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Works & Lentz Ordered by CFPB to Repay over $500,000 to Consumers | medical debt

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Works & Lentz Ordered by CFPB to Repay over $500,000 to Consumers | medical debt

Works and Lentz Ordered to Repay over $500,000 to Consumers

On January 9, 2017, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) entered a Consent Order against Oklahomamedical debt medical debt collection law firm Works and Lentz. As reported by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, the CFPB accused Works and Lentz attorneys with numerous violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in making false representations through calls and letters in which the debt collector attempts to collect debt without first performing any meaningful review on a consumer’s account. If this firm has tried to collect from you, you may be entitled to $1,000.00, plus free legal help. Fill out the webform on the right of this page for more information!

Works and Lentz Collection Agency, and its President, attorney Harry Lentz, have stipulated that the facts described in the Consent Order describing the violations of the FDCPA will be taken as true without further proof in any proceeding to enforce the Consent Order. “Misrepresenting that a lawyer is involved in a debt collection action gives the collection a false weight,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said Monday in a news release. “Works & Lentz intimidated consumers with unfounded threats of potential lawsuits.” The Consent Order additionally states that Works and Lentz did not ensure accuracy of information it provided to credit reporting agencies and used improperly notarized affidavits in lawsuits filed against consumers in Oklahoma County and Tulsa County. Because medical bill debt collection laws prohibit these practices, the CFPB is requiring Works and Lentz and its president, Harry A. Lentz, personally, to refund over half a million dollars in payments to harmed consumers, plus pay a $78,800 penalty to the federal government.

Works and Lentz collects medical debt on behalf of the healthcare providers, doctors and hospitals in the entire state of Oklahoma. Some of their clients include OSU Medical Center, St. John Hospital, Saint Francis Health System, and EMSA. According to the CFPB, Works and Lentz collects on a staggering number of accounts every year — 700,000 consumer accounts worth over $500 million dollars. Works and Lentz is paid on a contingency basis for its collection work, meaning it gets paid a percentage of whatever it is able to collect, and this work has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the company.

Here are the specific findings of CFPB against Works and Lentz:

Calling consumers and implying that lawyer from Works  and Lentz is involved. Works and Lentz has many non-attorney debt collectors working for them. The Consent Order states that these non-attorney collectors gave some consumers the false impression that they been working with lawyers in creating a decision on their account. However, a lawyer never reviews many accounts before the firm starts calling consumers.

Sending collection letters that imply it is from a lawyer. Works & Lentz uses a form “dunning” letter that identifies numerous attorneys that work for the firm. These letters are signed with a computerized signature by one of the attorneys. Some of these letters threaten consumers to pay their debts or face a lawsuit, however the CFPB has determined that despite the threat of litigation, many of these accounts have not been reviewed by any lawyer.

Submit reports for credit reporting without policies for accuracy. Works & Lentz furnishes information to consumer credit reporting companies for over 1 million consumers even though the firm doesn’t have any written procedures or policies about the accuracy of such information.

Submitted falsely notarized affidavits in lawsuits filed against consumers. In lawsuits filed in the Tulsa County and Oklahoma County Courthouse, Works & Lentz solicited affidavits from its clients with information about the client and the debt. However, the CFPB determined that when these affidavits were returned to Works & Lentz with a nonnotarized signature, employees of Works and Lentz notarized the affidavit without verifying the truth of the signature and would then file the affidavit in the lawsuit against a consumer.

The CFPB has made the following orders to Works and Lentz:

  • Refund $577,135.00 to harmed consumers: Works and Lentz will provide monetary compensation to all Consumers who made a payment within 90 days of receiving a Demand Letter between the dates of January 1, 2015 and August 26, 2016 that threatened litigation.
  • Stop using deceptive language in letters and collection calls: In future calls and demand letters that it sends, Works and Lentz prominently disclose that no attorney has reviewed the consumer account where attorneys have not previously reviewed the account. Future letters will also identify the identity or job title of the individual responsible for sending the letter or making the call. In addition, Works & Lentz will omit the name of any attorney and the phrase “Attorney at Law” from the signature block of any collection letter.
  • Permanently enjoined from unlawfully notarizing affidavits: Works & Lentz is now permanently restrained and enjoined from presenting to a court any affidavit in which the affiant represents, expressly or by implication, that the affidavit has been notarized if the affidavit was not executed by the affiant in the presence or a notary or otherwise in strict compliance with applicable state law.
  • Revise and enhance consumer credit reporting protections under the FDCPA and FCRA: Works and Lentz must revise and enhance their written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of information relating to consumers that they furnished to a credit reporting company.
  • Pay a civil money penalty of $78,800: In addition to the half million dollar payment to aggrieved consumers, Works and Lentz will pay $78,800 to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund for the illegal actions.

What to Do if Works & Lentz Contacts You

If you have received a demand letter from Works & Lentz, or seen this company on your credit report, we’d like to hear from you. The FDCPA provides protection to consumers from debt collectors seeking to collect medical debt. These protections include representation by a consumer attorney like Paramount Law without any charge to you, the consumer. The debt collector that has violated the FDCPA is responsible for your attorney fees! In addition, the FDCPA provides for statutory monetary damages of up to $1,000, plus any actual damages that are able to be proven by the consumer.

Works & Lentz is just one of over 6,000 companies that are part of the debt collection industry. The CFPB has previously reported that as many as 1 in 3 consumers contacted for repayment of debt report that the wrong amount was attempted to be collected.

If Saint Francis Hospital, St. John’s Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital, Integris, EMSA or any other healthcare provider in Tulsa or Oklahoma City has engaged Works and Lentz to collect your medical debt, call Paramount Law for a free consultation regarding your rights. Additionally, should you find Works & Lentz appears on your credit report (you can check your report for free at www.creditkarma.com), then please call Paramount Law for a free legal consultation regarding your rights under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You may be entitled to up to $1,000.00, plus free legal help!

 

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