The New York Congressman calls for an investigation into Spectrum’s collection practices.
- A New York congressman calls on a federal consumer protection agency to investigate Charter Spectrum’s alleged partnership with a debt collection company.
- Anthony Brindisi accused the company of giving debt collection agencies the ability to contact customers about fees or equipment that have already been paid or returned.
- Charter Spectrum says its practices are compliant and that the company will contact customers about excesses before handing them over to a third party collection agency.
A New York congressman attacked Charter Spectrum in an open letter to a federal consumer protection agency on Wednesday calling on the agency to investigate the cable and internet company’s alleged debt collection practices.
Anthony Brindisi of New York’s 22nd district, which stretches from north-central New York to the Southern Tier, is no newbie to what he believes is unacceptable rate hikes and business practices on Spectrum.
One allegation relates to Spectrum’s alleged partnership with a Texas-based debt collection company Credit Management LP to contact former Spectrum customers about alleged outstanding fees or lost equipment.
“After believing they have paid their last bill in full and returned their devices, customers face this unknown debt collection company,” Brindisi wrote in his letter Wednesday to Kathy Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A customer who had terminated the Spectrum service and believed they had paid all outstanding charges was informed that they owed the company more than $ 100. Others claimed credit management contacted them about debts related to “lost” equipment when they thought they had returned all required items.
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These customers allegedly never heard from Spectrum itself about outstanding bills or equipment, Brindisi said. Also, working with a debt collection agency involves transferring sensitive customer information and could compromise customers’ creditworthiness.
Brindisi called on the Bureau to open an investigation into Spectrum, Credit Management and other cable companies into the scope, geography and legality of the collection practices of cable and internet providers.
He is also interested in the collection and dissemination of personal data from customers, he said.
There are over 200 customer complaints on the Credit Management’s Better Business Bureau site, mostly related to alleged false or inaccurate collections calls to customers through cable or internet devices or services. Companies such as Spectrum, Windstream and Comcast are named in complaints.
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Charter is making every effort to contact former customers about arrears of payments or equipment before passing the situation on to a third agency, spokeswoman Lara Pritchard said.
“We contact customers with unpaid fees or unreturned equipment repeatedly in writing and by telephone and allow several weeks after the termination before we involve third parties in the process,” said Pritchard.
“If we hire third parties to collect unpaid fees and unreturned equipment well after the cancellation date, all collection efforts will be conducted in accordance with state and federal law.”
Brindisi encouraged customers who feel they are being unfairly contacted by collectors on behalf of cable companies to call its office at (315) 732-0713.
Sarah Taddeo is the consumer watchdog reporter for the New York State team on the USA Today Network. She investigates stories about your consumer rights, including fraud, negligent landlords, security issues, and wayward business dealings. If you have a story tip or comment, contact Sarah at [email protected] or (585) 258-2774. Follow her on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This reporting is only possible with the support of our readers. Sign up for a digital subscription today.