Navient Ordered to Pay $300,000 for Robocall Harassment
Robocall harassment is a growing problem in the United States. Creditor agencies and loan companies make hundreds of phone calls to the same individual seeking payment, and they often continue to call even after being told to stop. Federal and state regulations are cracking down, but credit agencies are fighting back. If you tell a credit agency to stop contacting you, and they persist in their harassing calls, you can file a lawsuit. Here is one example of this situation that occurred in Pennsylvania.
Paul DeMuth, a Harmarville, Pennsylvania resident, fell behind on his student loan payments because of extenuating circumstances. Before long, Navient, the largest student loan company in the United States, began calling him seeking payment. DeMuth repeatedly told Navient to stop calling, as shown in recordings, but Navient continued to send him and his cosigner robocalls several times a day.
In one instance, DeMuth told Navient clearly to stop contacting him. Just 6 hours later, he received another call. He then picked up and warned Navient that the calls were on the borderline of harassment. However, Navient continued to send robocalls repeatedly despite the warning, and DeMuth filed a lawsuit.
DeMuth filed a lawsuit against Navient for harassment. During the discover process, an independent arbiter revealed that Navient had made 200 unauthorized calls to DeMuth over the course of 2 years. The arbiter concluded that Navient’s actions had been willful and intentional, and ordered the student loan company to pay a total of $300,000 to DeMuth. This came out to $1,500 for each call.
DeMuth’s student loan debt was $15,700, and this amount was subtracted from the settlement award. According to Amy Ginsburg, DeMuth’s attorney, it was clear that Navient’s actions were intentional. Recordings of the phone calls proved that DeMuth repeatedly told the company to stop contacting him, and he warned Navient of the harassing nature of the robocalls. However, they refused to listen.
Navient is now arguing that DeMuth never took away his consent to receive the calls, making them appropriate and legal. The student loan company will fight the arbiter’s decision. This is not the first time the company has found itself in troubled legal waters, and not the first time it has fought back either.
Earlier in 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against Navient, claiming that the company cheated borrowers by putting obstacles in place to make it harder for them to make payments. This led to higher student loan balances and greater interest rates. In response, Navient asserted its innocence and stated that it was compliant with the Department of Education regulations under the Higher Education Act.
The loan company essentially blamed the obstacles on disorganization within the Department of Education. While the company might have had a point (seeing as CFPB’s allegations must have derived from federal consumer finance laws that added onto preexisting regulations), it still must be held responsible for its illegal and unfair practices. The lawsuits have not hindered the company’s profits. In fact, it recently purchased a portfolio of $7 billion in federal and private student loans from J.P. Morgan. The Department of Education is now taking action to implement a system change that would involve only one student loan servicer.
Call Atlas Consumer Law Today at (312) 313-1613 for Passionate Representation
Atlas Consumer Law has represented hundreds of clients in consumer law cases. We work hard and use creative, effective legal strategies for each case. If you are being harassed by robocalls, or you need representation to fight unfair debt collection practices, our Chicago consumer law attorneys can guide you through the process. We believe in holding collection agencies responsible for harassment and unfair collection practices, and we can fight to uphold your rights as you seek a favorable solution.
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