March 21, 2014
Student Loan Collection Co. Accused Of Deceptive Practices
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Law360, Los Angeles (March 03, 2014, 7:01 PM ET) -- The National Collegiate Student Loan Trust and the Law Offices of Patenaude & Felix APC are accused of violating federal and state laws by trying to collect student loan debts through deceptive means, according to a putative class action filed Friday in California federal court.
Dawn Zoerb of California alleges that after falling behind on his student loan payments, Patenaude — on behalf of National Collegiate — tried to collect his debt through a state collections lawsuit that didn't identify the original creditor.
The complaint accuses the defendants of violating the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and a California state debt collection statute, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The putative classes consist of all California residents against whom Patenaude filed a similar California state collections lawsuit that didn't include the original creditor's name, or to whom the firm sent a similar communication omitting the original creditor's name. The class period extends to one year before the filing of Friday's complaint.
"Defendants … unlawfully and abusively collect[ed] a debt allegedly owed by [Zoerb], and this conduct caused [Zoerb] damages," the suit says.
Congress wrote the FDCPA in order to curb abusive debt collection practices — which can lead to job losses, bankruptcies and invasions of individual privacy — and to encourage states to implement measures protecting consumers against abusive debt collection practices, according to the complaint.
California's state legislature has said that unfair or deceptive collection practices undermine the public confidence that is needed in order for banking and credit systems — and the extension of credit to consumers — to function smoothly, Friday's suit says.
After Zoerb fell behind on his payments of the alleged debt, it was transferred to National Collegiate for collection, according to his suit. In June, on behalf of National Collegiate, Patenaude allegedly filed its California state collections lawsuit against him.
Zoerb's attorneys claim that he never entered into a written contact with National Collegiate.
The suit seeks up to $1,000 in statutory damages for each alleged violation of the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Zoerb is also seeking attorneys' fees and litigation costs.
Attorneys for Zoerb declined to comment on Monday.
Attorneys for Patenaude & Felix didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
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