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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Settles with Nursing Home and Collection Agency
Regarding Debt Collection Practices

BALTIMORE, MD (September 6, 2007) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that his Consumer Protection Division has reached settlements with Clearview Nursing Home in Hagerstown and its collection agency, CollectAssure, Inc., regarding their debt collection practices. The Division alleged that the now closed Clearview Nursing Home and its owners sought to collect debts from residents and their families that were not owed and used aggressive tactics when attempting to collect those debts. The Division also alleged Clearview improperly obtained financial guarantees from the relatives of its former residents, a violation of Maryland law. In addition, the Division alleged that CollectAssure, Inc., a California-based debt collector hired by Clearview, operated without a license to collect debts in Maryland and used abusive collection tactics, a violation of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act.

The owners of Clearview Nursing Home and CollectAssure denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to refund all of the money that the Division contended was improperly collected from consumers. Both companies and their owners agreed to no longer collect debts in violation of Maryland law and the nursing home’s owners also agreed to no longer require the relatives of any residents of any nursing home they may operate in the future to sign financial guarantees. Both companies also agreed to pay the Division $1,000 for its costs and a $5,000 civil penalty.

“Debt collectors cannot demand money from consumers unless they are licensed to collect debts and the money demanded is, in fact owed,” said Attorney General Gansler.

The Consumer Protection Division will be contacting consumers who may be entitled to restitution under the settlement.

 

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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