Retail Merchants Association or RMA 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 Retail Merchants Association?
Retail Merchants Association, Inc. (RMA) is a third-party collection agency based in Louisiana. RMA has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), such as failing to provide written verification of debts and attempting to collect debts not owed. If RMA has contacted you about past due financial obligations, make sure you understand your rights before taking action.
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Is Retail Merchants Association a scam?
They’re legit. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Retail Merchants Association, Inc. was incorporated in 1928. The BBB established a profile page for RMA in 1975, and RMA has been a BBB-accredited business since then. The BBB lists RMA as a collection agency and credit reporting agency. Buzzfile estimates RMA’s annual revenue at $3.7 million and the size of its headquarters staff at 35 employees. Buzzfile also indicates that RMA uses the alternate business name, Credit Bureau of Greater Shreveport and hosts a secondary website at www.creditbureauofla.com.
According to its website, RMA “has been in business since 1898,” which has given them “plenty of time to perfect the practice of debt collections.” RMA has “implemented the best technology available to the collection industry, mixed it with a staff of fully certified collectors, and formed the largest and strongest agency in their area.” RMA employs “techniques that work…to collect …debt…while maintaining the relationship between… client and customer.”
Who does Retail Merchants Association collect for?
The Retail Merchants Association website does not provide any detailed information about the types of businesses or industries for whom they collect debts. RMA states that they are the best choice “for all third-party debt collections because of the solutions that they provide and the way they operate.”
Retail Merchants Association offers a full range of debt collection services, including skip tracing, employment verification, bankruptcy filing, third-party collections, and legal options. RMA’s skip tracing division “automatically scrubs each account at the time of placement to help…locate debtors.” Their employment verification services “verify employment on the debtors… to help… in determining the extent of action that can be taken on an account.” RMA employs a bankruptcy court filing process when a “debtor files for bankruptcy and the client account is tied up in the bankruptcy process.” RMS’s collections division uses “a series of notices and phone calls… to negotiate payment plans and offer solutions to get the debt satisfied.” RMA’s legal options include “obtaining a judgment against the debtor in an attempt to collect the debt,” with RMA “paying all upfront court costs and attorney fees.”
The RMA website does not include any information about their regulatory compliance policies. Their Frequently Asked Questions page provides brief answers to typical consumer concerns, but there are no links or references to consumer protection resources, laws, 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 Retail Merchants Association?
As of September 2019, the BBB has closed 11 complaints against Retail Merchants Association in the preceding three years, with 3 complaints closed in the previous 12 months. All of those complaints cited problems with billing and collections. As of October 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has closed 12 complaints involving RMA. Justia lists at least 1 case of civil litigation involving RMA.
Retail Merchants Association, Inc. 620 Crockett St. Shreveport, LA 71101 Telephone: (318) 222-4641
Can Retail Merchants Association 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 RMA 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!
In May 2013, in the Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit of the State of Louisiana, a judge issued a decision in a case alleging Retail Merchants Association had violated several contractual and legal requirements in its efforts to collect a delinquent medical bill. In the original case, the plaintiff had received outpatient medical treatment at a local medical facility. At the time of the medical treatment, the plaintiff had supplied the medical facility staff with his insurance card before signing the patient agreement. Almost two years later, the plaintiff received a collection letter from RMA that “demanded payment of the balance due in the amount of $4,300 within 30 days.” A month later, RMA “filed suit on an open account against the plaintiff, seeking payment of the balance due plus legal interest, costs, and reasonable attorney fees…The petition alleged that the plaintiff failed to pay the amount due within 30 days of the demand letter.” The plaintiff answered the complaint by stating that RMA’s claim was not valid because the medical facility had “failed to timely file a claim with his insurer and thereby voided his coverage.” In addition, he “asserted that the medical facility failed to mitigate its damages by filing an insurance claim. Lastly, the plaintiff asserted a third-party demand against his insurer.” At the original trial, attorneys for RMA attempted to argue that because the plaintiff had signed an agreement at the time he had received treatment, he was now liable for the charges because “the contract provides that the patient is responsible for all medical bills incurred.” However, RMA also acknowledge that they “had no documentation of any claim having been submitted to the plaintiff’s insurer;…of any denial of such claim by the insurer; or of any….documentation of any statements having been sent to the plaintiff prior to the demand letter.” The plaintiff also testified that he had had been continuously insured, and that his insurance company had told him they had no record of any claim ever having been filed by the medical facility. As a result, because the medical facility had failed to take any action to bill the plaintiff’s insurance company, the claim against him was dismissed.
At the appeals hearing in 2013, Retail Merchants Association stated that the trial court had made an error of law in dismissing the claim and requested that the decision be overturned. The appeals court reviewed the trial court’s decision. They also reviewed the patient agreement the plaintiff had signed at the time he received services. The court noted that the agreement, which refers to patients as “debtors,” states that by signing the agreement, patients agree to “pay in full … customary charges for the goods and services rendered” and that “the indebtedness is due and payable at the discretion of the medical facility during the hospitalization or in full at the time of discharge.” However, the agreement also stated that if the medical facility accepts proof of insurance coverage, that “claims for payment of benefits will be filed on behalf of the…insured and that these benefits will be considered… in determining the amounts due…and that the medical facility will accept payments from third-party payors and insurers on behalf of the debtor and apply such payment to the indebtedness to the extent that they are received.” Because the plaintiff had provided proof of insurance and the medical facility had failed to file a claim on his behalf, the appeals court upheld the trial court’s decision and denied RMA’s claim against the plaintiff.
Retail Merchants Association 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).
Can I sue RMA for harassment?
Yes. If you want to enforce your rights, or recover money for violations — you need to sue. Federal 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.
“I used to get up to 15 calls a week from several collection agencies. It got so bad I felt like I should just get a new phone number to make it quit. Happily, I discovered Lemberg Law. They immediately put an end to the calls. Now, when my phone rings I do not dread it.”
“I would recommend your company to anyone. You have the debt collectors off my back, and I will finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the entire procedure your employees were courteous and professional. I was blown away by their efficacy also.
“Prior to contacting you, we had tried repeatedly to handle this matter without threatening litigation. In the end, not only were they unapologetic, but they were dismissive – even of an attorney friend who called on our behalf. Sincerest thanks for resolving this matter for us!”
Can You Help Me Delete Retail Merchants Association from My Credit Report?
We can absolutely help. Call us today.
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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.