Am Ex, NCO Financial named in suit over debt collection

By Kelly Holleran | May 4, 2011

A Florida man claims he attempted to pay back more than $4,000 worth of debt, but lost thousands of dollars when a debt collector and credit card company switched his debt to a different collector without warning.

Leonardo Santos filed a lawsuit May 2 in U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania against NCO Financial Systems and American Express Company.

Santos claims he entered into a settlement agreement with NCO in which he agreed to pay his debt of $4,066 to American Express over a series of months. According to his complaint, Santos agreed to make two payments of $125 in September and October, then eight payments of $477 until June when the debt would be satisfied.

Santos was able to make all payments until March when he received a letter and a returned check for $477 from NCO, stating that it could not identify the correct account Santos money should have been deposited in, the suit states.

American Express later contacted Santos, attempting to set up direct payments with him and informing him it did not accept payments from a third party such as NCO, the complaint says.

“The account should not have been recalled and sent back to Defendant, AmEx since both the Defendant, NCO and Plaintiff’s attorney agreed on settlement terms and Plaintiff complied to terms,” the suit states.

Santos alleges NCO violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by engaging in deceptive means to collect a debt. In addition, it violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act by communicating with Santos instead of his attorney when it knew he was represented by an attorney, according to the complaint.

Both NCO and American Express breached a contract by failing to abide by contract terms, the suit states.

In his complaint, Santos seeks actual damages and the maximum amount of statutory damages provided in Florida civil code, plus attorney’s fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Bruce K. Warren and Brent F. Vullings of Warren and Vullings in Jenkintown will be representing him.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:11-cv-2903.

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