Synchrony Bank has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the bank harassed residents throughout California with debt collection calls, it was announced Nov. 15.
The case, brought by a coalition of California district attorney’s offices, including Los Angeles and San Diego counties, alleged the Utah-based company and its agents used call centers both in and out of the country to make collection calls that were “unreasonably frequent or harassing.”
According to the complaint, many of the calls were at “an excessive and unreasonable volume,” and continued even after consumers indicated the calls were made in error.
“Repeated phone calls from debt collectors intended to annoy, abuse, or harass consumers is illegal and wrong,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.
The judgment, which was entered last week without admission of wrongdoing, holds that Synchrony Bank will pay $2 million in civil penalties, $975,000 in investigative costs, and $525,000 to a charitable trust fund to support consumer protection efforts.
The bank was also ordered to establish policies and procedures to prevent unreasonable and harassing debt collection calls to California consumers, including limiting the total number of calls to each debtor and honoring consumer requests for calls to stop.
“Often these harassing debt collection calls were made to consumers who didn’t owe any money and sometimes even to a wrong number,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement.