Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced last week that a local ambulance service will be canceling nearly $1.6 million in EMS transport charges and paying $50,000 in restitution to resolve consumer protection complaints into its collection practices.
The Attorney General’s Office began investigating Trinity EMS, Inc., collection attorney Robert White, and a debt collection firm, Stevens Business Services (SBS). They were accused violating state law by engaging in illegal collection practices that included threatening consumers with arrest and imprisonment.
In 2017, AG Healey took the extreme step of obtaining an injunction against White to prohibit him from bringing any more debt collection suits. According to a press release at the time “White routinely intimidated, harassed, and abused consumers when seeking to collect debts. It also found that White used baseless threats to coerce low-income consumers into burdensome repayments plans, even when they had income that was exempt from court-ordered collection.” AG Healey at the time said:
- This attorney’s unlawful debt collection practices caused financial and emotional injury to consumers and deprived consumers of their right to a fair hearing.
- With this injunction, he will no longer be able to abuse consumers and the court system.
White subsequently passed away, but the investigation revealed that Trinity and SBS were aware of, and benefitted from, White’s misconduct. The settlement impacts roughly 880 consumers. According to the press release:
- Trinity and SBS have agreed to identify consumers sued by White on Trinity’s behalf and all resulting judgments, forgive and stop collecting any debt alleged to be owed based on the resulting judgments, disclaim the right to sell or transfer the debts to another debt collector, inform affected consumers they no longer have to pay outstanding debts, and report these debts as satisfied to credit reporting agencies.
- Trinity and SBS, which are both based in Lowell, have also agreed to help repair the credit of all consumers sued by White on Trinity’s behalf and repay those most affected by White’s misconduct.
- Trinity and SBS will also submit an annual report on their compliance with the debt collection laws to the AG’s Office for three year.