Topco Financial Services Inc., an Everett, Wash.-based collection agency, settled a pending lawsuit with Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna's office by agreeing not to threaten, harass or curse at consumers. The agency will pay $5,000 in civil penalties and $33,000 in attorneys' fees and legal costs. An additional $70,000 in civil penalties and $12,000 in fees and costs was suspended provided that Topco complies with the terms of the settlement.
The agency was accused of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act and sued by McKenna's office in February of last year. The state's complaint alleged that representatives of Topco used profanity, called debtors names and threatened to take further action beyond the legal authority of the company.
The state, as part of a settlement filed last month in Snohomish County (Wash.) Superior Court, agreed to dismiss civil charges against individuals provided that the company agreed to comply with certain restriction on how its employees communicate with consumers. The agreement contains no finding or admission of wrongdoing.
Topco also must not threaten debtors with impairment of their credit rating or imply that failure to pay a debt will result in a revocation, suspension or impairment of the debtor's driver's license.