Nelson, Hirsch & Associates, Inc., a Georgia debt collections company, and its owner, Tanya Santiago, have entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), resolving charges that the company committed multiple violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. The investigation by OCP stemmed from a series of reports from consumers who stated that Nelson, Hirsch & Associates harassed and deceived them by:
• Failing to disclose that it was a debt collector attempting to collect a debt;
• Threatening consumers with arrest, imprisonment or charges of fraud if they did not pay the debt;
• Refusing to send consumers written proof of the debt owed;
• Collecting more than the amount owed or authorized;
• Threatening to call the consumer’s employer and have the consumer’s wages garnished;
• Falsely representing to consumers that it was affiliated with a law firm and/or that the caller was a fraud investigator;
• Continuing to contact consumers even after they told the company to stop calling them;
• Calling consumers at unusual hours such as before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm;
• Calling consumers at work, knowing that their employers prohibited such contact;
• Speaking to consumers in a harassing and abusive manner;
• Threatening consumers’ family members; and
• Calling repeatedly, sometimes as much as 50 times a day.
Under the Assurance, Nelson, Hirsch & Associates and Ms. Santiago are required to cease business operations. Further, Ms. Santiago must refrain from engaging in any aspect of debt collection activities in Georgia or in connection with Georgia consumers for a period of at least five years. In addition, the company and Ms. Santiago will forego collection of 5,809 consumer accounts that they had purchased from creditors who had previously written off the debts. These accounts total $4,307,658. The company must also pay a $26,000 civil penalty and reimburse OCP for investigative and legal expenses in the amount of $24,000. John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, had this to say:
We are sending a strong and clear message that this kind of abuse and harassment of consumers, and the egregious disregard for the law that these practices typify will not be tolerated.
The Georgia agency should be commended for taking this action. It was brought to my attention by Tammy Massengale, a dedicated public servant, who is with OCP. The agency continues to do good work for all Georgia citizens. Protecting consumers is a responsibility that some in government refuse to do. It’s good to see that our neighboring state has public officials who recognize their responsibilities and will work to get the job done.
Source: OCP News Release
WAL-MART PULLS FORMULA AFTER BABY DIES IN MISSOURI
Wal-Mart removed a batch of powdered infant formula from more than 3,000 stores nationwide after a Missouri newborn died from a rare infection, after consuming the formula. The bacteria in question occur naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice. But the most worrisome appearances have been in dried milk and powdered formula. That is why manufacturers routinely test for the pathogens.
Wal-Mart pulled the Enfamil Newborn formula from shelves as a precaution following the death of the infant in Lebanon, Mo. At press time, the government had not ordered a recall. The manufacturer, Mead Johnson Nutrition, said tests showed the batch was negative for the bacteria before it was shipped. Additional tests were under way at press time.
Wal-Mart said it felt that it was best to remove the product until it learned more. Customers who bought formula in 12.5-ounce cans with the lot number ZP1K7G have the option of returning them for a refund or exchange. While the product is not exclusive to Wal-Mart, the manufacturer has not said how widely distributed the formula was among other stores.
A second Missouri infant became sick after consuming powdered baby formula in the last month, but that child recovered, according to state health officials. Powdered infant formula is not sterile, and experts have said there are not adequate methods to completely remove or kill all bacteria that might creep into formula before or during production.
Preliminary hospital test results indicated that the Missouri infant died of a rare infection caused by Cronobacter sakazakii. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than one month old and those born prematurely. The family submitted two types of infant formula for testing — the powdered version and a pre-sterilized, ready-to-eat liquid — as well as the distilled water used to prepare the powdered product. The infant was taken to a pediatrician on December 15th — a week after he was born — after showing signs of stomach pain and lethargy. When the pain persisted the next day, his parents took him to an emergency room.
The infant died at a hospital in Springfield after being removed from life support. The Missouri Department of Health advised parents to follow safety guidelines for preparing powdered infant formula, including washing hands, sterilizing all feeding equipment in hot, soapy water and preparing enough formula for only one feeding at a time.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.