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Lawsuit Says Capital One Practices Illegal Debt Collection

Paul Taggart/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- According to a federal class action lawsuit filed in White Plains, N.Y., Capital One Bank and Cohen and Slamowitz, a law firm that represents it, “practice illegal credit and collection practices.”

The charge is made by attorney Shimshon Wexler, who filed suit against Capital One and Cohen and Slamowitz for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The FDCP was added in 1978 to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which eliminates abusive debt collection practices.

The complaint was filed Sept. 25 on behalf of “all individuals with a New York address who have had an action filed against them in a Supreme Court of the State of New York for a consumer debt(s) for less than $3,000″ and in which Cohen and Slamowitz is Capital One’s lawyer. The defendants’ “unlawful credit and collection practices,” according to the complaint, can include communicating with consumers at their place of employment after being asked not to, or publishing the consumer’s name or address on a “bad debt” list.

Wexler told ABC News that he would “prefer not to talk about it.” A spokesperson for Capital One, Tatiana Stead, said she could not comment on pending litigation.

But Mitchell Selip, counsel for Cohen and Slamowitz, said, “There is a cottage industry of attorneys out there who make a living suing banks and the companies that represent them  based on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many are brought by those attorneys for the sole purpose of banks paying them ‘nuisance values’ — several thousand dollars — to make the case go away, regardless if there is any merit.”

He added, “If someone doesn’t pay money, it’s only fair that they should pay it back. If they don’t, those of us who pay back our bills wind up paying a higher interest rate on our credit cards.”

In July, Capital One agreed to reimburse $140 million — and pay an additional $25 million penalty — to more than two million customers for deceptive marketing tactics used by Capital One’s call center operators to pressure or mislead consumers into paying for “add-on products” such as payment protection and credit monitoring when they activated their credit cards.

The action “puts $140 million back in the pockets of two million Capital One customers who were pressured or misled into buying credit card products they didn’t understand, didn’t want, or in some cases, couldn’t even use,” said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which ordered the refund, in a statement.  ”We are putting companies on notice that these deceptive practices are against the law and will not be tolerated.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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