Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, released a public letter Wednesday calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate the debt collection practices of Charter Communications, doing business as Spectrum.
“Fighting Spectrum on rising rates also includes making sure they can’t use debt collection as another money-making tactic,” Brindisi said.
In his letter, Brindisi cited “hundreds” of complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau against Spectrum and Credit Management L.P., a Texas-based debt collection company.
“It has come to my attention that customers are being contacted by this Spectrum-contracted debt collector as it relates to the cancelling of the Spectrum cable and/or internet service,” he wrote. “After believing they had paid their final bill in full and returned their equipment, customers are finding themselves face-to-face with this unknown debt collector from Plano, Texas.”
One former Spectrum customer was solicited for more than $100 by Credit Management L.P., “long after amicably ending their service,” Brindisi wrote, claiming that “Spectrum never notified this customer they owed a penny.”
Lara Pritchard, senior director of communications for Charter’s northeast division, told The Daily Star in a Thursday email that the company contacts customers “repeatedly,” in writing and via phone, with unpaid charges or unreturned equipment, and allows “several weeks” after service cancellation before engaging third parties.
"Charter makes every effort to collect unpaid charges and company-owned equipment like DVRs at the time a customer disconnects,” Pritchard wrote. “When we utilize third parties to collect unpaid charges and unreturned equipment well after the cancellation date, all debt collection efforts are conducted in accordance with state and federal law.”
Brindisi’s office sent a copy of the letter to the House Financial Services Committee, petitioning ranking member Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to consider a hearing on the debt collection practices of cable companies like Spectrum and their partnerships with collection firms like Credit Management.
The congressman further asked the CFPB to investigate Spectrum and Credit Management’s handling of customers’ personal information, including social services and other identifying data.
“A consumer should not be sent to a debt collector, without warning, for a missing remote control,” Brindisi said. “That is both unfair and a sneaky way Spectrum might be padding its bottom line,” calling the actions “unacceptable, worthy of investigation and potentially in violation of federal rules.”
Brindisi urged constituents who have been contacted by Credit Management on behalf of Spectrum to contact his office at 315-732-0713.
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.