SALINA, N.Y. — Med-Rev Recoveries, a consumer-debt collection agency formerly located in Salina, has to stop operating as a debt collector and pay $550,000 in consumer reimbursements, civil penalties, and costs.
That’s part of a court order that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced in a news release Wednesday.
John St. Denis, Med-Rev’s sole owner, and Jamie Fortino, its former president, signed a stipulation agreeing to the terms, Schneiderman’s office said in the release.
Consumers filed complaints with Schneiderman’s office and the Better Business Bureau alleging Med-Rev collectors’ “verbal harassment” and their refusal to provide consumers with account balances or verification of the debts they were attempting to collect.
In addition, consumers and medical providers complained that Med-Rev was “not timely” remitting consumers’ payments to the creditors, according to the release.
Some consumers learned their payments had not been credited to their past-due accounts when they sought medical, dental and/or veterinary care and were denied treatment due to unpaid debt, Schneiderman’s office said.
“Living with medical debt is difficult enough as it is, without the added stress of being bullied by debt collectors,” Schneiderman said. “This settlement sends the message that debt collectors that employ abusive tactics will be held accountable.”
The conduct alleged in the consumer complaints indicated that Med-Rev Recoveries was “not abiding” by the terms of a settlement agreement that it had signed in 2009.
The attorney general’s office had accepted the settlement agreement at that time to resolve allegations of “deceptive acts and practices and repeated illegality in its debt collection business.”
After a year-long investigation, Schneiderman filed a lawsuit on Feb. 11, 2015, alleging that Med-Rev “repeatedly” violated state and federal debt-collection laws and New York’s consumer-protection law, and continued to “engage in conduct that violated” the 2009 agreement.
Prompted by the attorney general’s lawsuit, Fortino resigned as president and Med-Rev ceased collecting consumer debt, Schneiderman’s office said.
The consent order, which Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice James Murphy signed, “permanently” bars Med-Rev Recoveries, Inc., Jamie Fortino, and John St. Denis from “engaging in the debt collection business.”
The consent order also requires Med-Rev to issue refund checks to consumers who were charged a fee for paying with a credit card and to consumers who paid a collection fee to Med-Rev in connection with Monroe Ambulance accounts, Schneiderman’s office said.
Under state and federal debt-collection laws, a debt collector may only charge additional fees if such fees are authorized by the consumer’s original contract with the creditor.
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