Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Synchrony Bank will pay $3.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the company made unreasonably frequent or harassing phone calls to debtors in California.
“Repeated phone calls from debt collectors intended to annoy, abuse or harass consumers is illegal and wrong,” District Attorney Gascón said.
Under a judgment negotiated with the Utah-headquartered company, entered on November 9 in the Los Angeles Superior Court and signed by Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong, Synchrony was ordered to pay a total of $3.5 million:
• $2 million in civil penalties, $500,000 to each of the four District Attorney’s offices involved;
• $975,000 in investigative costs;
• $525,000 in restitution to be distributed to a nonprofit charitable organization to support work that advances the public interest.
Under the settlement, Synchrony must implement and maintain policies and procedures to prevent harassing debt collection calls for four years after the judgment date. The federal savings association bank did not admit wrongdoing.
Beginning in 2014, Synchrony engaged in unlawful debt collection activities from call centers in and outside the United States, according to the complaint. The bank continued to make such illegal calls to alleged debtors when those consumers indicated they no longer wished to receive the calls, the complaint said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division led the investigation and prosecution as part of the Debt Collection Task Force, which includes San Diego, Santa Clara and Riverside county district attorney’s offices.