Columbia Collection Service or CCS is a debt collection agency, which receives a lot of consumer complaints to our law firm for debt harassment. Find out who they are, why they might be calling, and how you can stop them.
What is Columbia Collection Service – CCS?
Columbia Collection Service, Inc. (CCS) is a third-party collection agency based in New Jersey that specializes in collecting delinquent medical bills. CCS has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), including using false or misleading information in an effort to collect a debt and threatening to take actions that cannot legally be taken. If CCS has contacted you about past due financial obligations, make sure you know your rights before you respond.
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Is Columbia Collection Service a scam?
They’re legit. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Columbia Collection Service, Inc. was founded and incorporated in 1985. The BBB established a profile page for CCS in 1996, and CCS has been accredited by the BBB since 2013. CCS is listed as a collection agency, billing service, and payment processing service that uses the following alternate business names: Columbia Credit Services, Columbia Services, CCSI, Columbia Credit, Columbia Payment Processing Company, Columbia Recovery, and Columbia Credit & Collection Service.
According to its website, CCS “applies… knowledge, experience, and capabilities to a variety of areas of business and industry” in an effort to “create a collection experience that is in alignment with clients’ brand and revenue cycle.” CCS states that it has “disrupted the collections industry with a unique approach—treat everyone with dignity and respect and create positive outcomes for everyone involved.” CCS has “offices in Oregon and Washington…and… represents some of the most visible and respected organizations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.”
CCS accepts delinquent accounts from a variety of industries, including healthcare providers; financial services companies; residential and commercial property management companies; small businesses; utility service providers; automotive finance lenders; education lenders; veterinarians; and government agencies. In addition, CCS provides commercial business-to-business collection services; judgement recovery services; and professional outsourcing services for “industries such as law offices, accountants, architecture, medical practitioners, and IT professionals.”
CCS states that it “stays on top of the regulatory climate of the collection industry and has implemented an effective Compliance Management System…that reduces liability and exposure.” CCS “offers training to …partners in areas such as Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)/collection laws, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommended best practices, bankruptcy law, and call de-escalation techniques for…staff and/or leadership teams.” However, their Consumers page only offers third-party disclosure forms and proposed payment plans; there are no links or references to consumer protection laws, resources, or enforcement agencies.
Who are we? We are Lemberg Law, a Consumer Law Firm
Lemberg Law is a consumer law firm helping victims of collection harassment and abuse. We are ranked A+ by the BBB. We’ve helped more than 15,000 consumers stop harassment and recover money from debt collectors. Harassed? Abused? Misled by a collector? Call our Helpline today! There is no charge unless we win.
How many complaints are there against Columbia Collection Service?
As of January 2019, the BBB has closed 18 complaints against Columbia Collection Service in the preceding three years, with 3 complaints closed in the previous 12 months. All of those complaints were concerned with billing and collection issues. Since May 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has closed 21 complaints against CCS. Justia lists at least 7 cases of civil litigation involving CCS.
Can Columbia Collection Service Sue Me or Garnish My Wages?
It is illegal for a debt collector to make empty threats to sue you or garnish your wages. It is also unlikely CCS would sue you for a debt you may not owe or they cannot validate. However, debt collection agencies are known to have summoned debtors to court and garnish wages after a default judgement. Contacting an attorney BEFORE this could possibly happen would be a smart move. We’ve helped thousands of consumers fight back against unscrupulous debt collection harassers. Find out if we can help you too today!
Unlawful Debt Harassment? Learn the Law & Sue the Collector.
Can you help me file a No Fee Lawsuit against Columbia Collection Service?
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Complaints
In February 2015, in United States District Court for the District of Oregon, a judge issued an Opinion and Order in case alleging Columbia Collection Service had violated certain provisions of the FDCPA. In this case., the plaintiff alleged that CCS’ communication efforts violated his rights under Section 1692g(a); “overshadowed” his rights under Section 1692g(b); and were misleading under Section 1692e(10). CCS argued that the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred; that their communications were exempt from prosecution because they were not “initial communications”; and that they did not violate the FDCPA as a matter of law. Specifically, CCS hired an attorney to collect a judgement against the plaintiff. The attorney acting on behalf of CCS “issued three writs of garnishment against the plaintiff’s wages: one in 2007 and two more in August 2013 and October 2013. Oregon law requires that four documents be delivered to the debtor when his property is garnished: a copy of the writ of garnishment, a debt-calculation form, a notice-of-exemptions form, and a challenge-to-garnishment form.” CCS mailed these documents in connection with each garnishment. In addition, CCS, “treating each such mailing as an ‘initial communication’ under the FDCPA, …also included… a notice that the plaintiff had certain rights.” However, the plaintiff was incarcerated at the Multnomah County Justice Center at the time of the garnishment, so he never received the initial communication.
The plaintiff alleged that Columbia Collection Service’s debt collection attempts violated Section 1692g of the FDCPA, which “defines the obligations of a debt collector in connection with its ‘initial communication’ with a consumer and during the period immediately thereafter”; and Section 1692e, which prohibits debt collectors from using ‘false, deceptive, or misleading representations’ to collect on a debt.” The plaintiff did not receive the initial communication sent by CCS due to his incarceration. Subsequent communication efforts failed to include statements of his rights during the debt collection process. The plaintiff argued that because from his perspective these subsequent attempts were “initial communication,” they violated the FDCPA. The court disagreed, indicating that CCS fulfilled its responsibility, and the plaintiff’s incarceration, while unfortunate, did not alter the fact that the required statements had been included in the initial mailing. However, the plaintiff argued that the subsequent “mailings contained at least one inconsistency that could” be considered misleading. Specifically, they included a “challenge-to-garnishment form, with a statement in all-capitals lettering, that admonished the plaintiff that he “MAY NOT USE THE CHALLENGE TO GARNISHMENT FORM TO CHALLENGE THE VALIDITY OF THE DEBT.” According to the law, “A debt-collection letter is deceptive where it can ‘reasonably be read to have two or more different meanings, one of which is inaccurate.’” The court agreed that the statement used by CCS could be interpreted to mean “either (1) the consumer cannot challenge the debt at all or (2) the consumer can challenge the underlying debt, just not through the garnishment forms.” As a result, although the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgement with regard to Section 1692(g), they granted his motion under Section 1692e.
Columbia Collection Service Calling You?
Federal laws protect you. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates the behavior of collection agencies by prohibiting actions such as the use of abusive or threatening language; harassment; or the use of false or misleading information to collect a debt. The FCRA regulates how collection agencies and creditors report delinquent debts to credit reporting agencies. Additional consumer protection laws include the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA).
But here’s the rub: If you want to enforce your rights, or recover money for violations — you need to sue. These laws provide individuals like you with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers who have been violated to recover damages of up to $1,000, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Stop Debt Collection Harassment
You may have a case, if…
You are receiving multiple calls per week from third party collection agencies
You are receiving early morning or late night calls from debt collectors
You are receiving calls at work from a debt collection agency
Debt collectors are calling your friends, neighbors, or coworkers
Collectors are threatening you with violence, a lawsuit, or arrest
A debt collector attempts to collect more than you owe
You are being threatened with negative credit reporting
A debt collector attempts to intimidate you
Criminal accusations are being made towards you
Use of obscene language during an attempt to collect
Automated robocalls are being made to your phone in an attempt to collect
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Can You Help Me Delete Columbia Collection Service from My Credit Report?
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About the Author:
Sergei Lemberg is a lawyer whose practice focuses on consumer law, class actions and personal injury litigation. He has been repeatedly recognized as the “most active consumer attorney” in the country. In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid in the United States Supreme Court in the case entitled Duguid v. Facebook. He is the author of Defanging Debt Collectors, a book that teaches consumers how to battle debt collectors and win.