DOB: American Billing & Collections, Inc. - CD-CP

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IN THE MATTER OF:

AMERICAN BILLING &
COLLECTIONS, INC.

        ("Respondent")



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ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST

AND

ORDER IMPOSING CIVIL PENALTY

I.  PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

WHEREAS, the Banking Commissioner (“Commissioner”) is charged with the administration of Part XII of Chapter 669, Sections 36a-800 to 36a-812, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Consumer Collection Agencies”, and the regulations promulgated thereunder, Sections 36a-809-6 to 36a-809-17, inclusive, of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (“Regulations”);
 
WHEREAS, the Commissioner, through the Consumer Credit Division (“Division”) of the Department of Banking (“Department”), conducted an investigation of the activities of Respondent, pursuant to the authority granted by Section 36a-17 of the Connecticut General Statutes, to determine if Respondent had violated, was violating or was about to violate the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes or Regulations within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner;
 
WHEREAS, on July 14, 2016, the Commissioner, acting pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and subsections (a) and (b) of Section 36a-52 and subsections (a) and (c) of Section 36a-50 of the Connecticut General Statutes, issued a Temporary Order to Cease and Desist, Order to Make Restitution (“Order to Make Restitution”), Notice of Intent to Issue Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Impose Civil Penalty and Notice of Right to Hearing (collectively “Order and Notice”) against Respondent, which Order and Notice is incorporated herein by reference;

WHEREAS, on July 15, 2016, the Order and Notice was caused to be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Respondent (Certified Mail Nos. 70123050000069999772 and 70123050000069999789), and its registered agent Robert A. Catalano (Certified Mail Nos. 70123050000069999796 and 70123050000069999802);

WHEREAS, the Order and Notice provided Respondent with the opportunity for a hearing, and stated that if a hearing was not requested by Respondent within 14 days of its receipt, or if Respondent failed to appear at any such hearing, the allegations would be deemed admitted, the Order to Make Restitution shall remain in effect and become permanent against Respondent, and the Commissioner would issue an order that Respondent cease and desist from violating Sections 36a-801(a), 36a-805(a)(9) and 36a-805(a)(10) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes, Sections 36a-806(a), 36a-808, 36a-811 and 36a-812 of the Connecticut General Statutes and Section 36a-809-9 of the Regulations, and may order a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) per violation be imposed upon Respondent;

WHEREAS, on July 25, 2016, the Order and Notice sent to Respondent’s registered agent (Certified Mail No. 70123050000069999796) was returned to the Department marked “Return to Sender – Not Deliverable as Addressed – Unable to Forward”;

WHEREAS, on July 26, 2016, the Order and Notice sent to Respondent (Certified Mail No. 70123050000069999772) was returned to the Department marked “Return to Sender – Not Deliverable as Addressed – Unable to Forward”;

WHEREAS, on August 4, 2016, the Order and Notice sent to Respondent (Certified Mail No. 70123050000069999789) was returned to the Department marked “Return to Sender – Unclaimed – Unable to Forward”;

WHEREAS, on September 20, 2016, the Order and Notice sent to Respondent’s registered agent (Certified Mail No. 70123050000069999802) was returned to the Department marked “Return to Sender – Unclaimed – Unable to Forward”;

WHEREAS, the Order and Notice issued against Respondent was “deemed received by the person on the earlier of the date of actual receipt, or seven days after mailing or sending”, pursuant to Sections 36a-52(a), 36a-50(a)(1) and 36a-50(c) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, Respondent failed to request a hearing within the prescribed time period and to present evidence, rebuttal evidence and argument on all issues of fact and law to be considered by the Commissioner;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s acting within this state as a consumer collection agency without a consumer collection agency license constitutes a violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  Such violation forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s practice of refusing or failing to account for and remit to its clients all money collected which is not in dispute within sixty (60) days from the last day of the month in which said money is collected, and refusing or intentionally failing to return to the creditor all valuable papers deposited with a claim when such claim is returned, constitutes a violation of Sections 36a-805(a)(9) and 36a-805(a)(10) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  Such violation forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s engaging in this state in unfair or deceptive acts or practices constitutes a violation of Sections 36a-806(a) and 36a-808 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  Such violation forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s failure to maintain its consumer debtor and creditor records so as to clearly identify the amounts and dates of all payments collected or received from consumer debtors and all remittances made to creditors, and failure to keep such records so as to be readily available to the Commissioner and retained for a period of not less than two (2) years after the date of final entry thereon, and Respondent’s commingling of funds, constitute violations of Section 36a-811 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  Such violations form the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt constitutes a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a violation of which constitutes a violation of Section 36a-812 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  Such violation forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, the Commissioner alleged in the Order and Notice, with respect to the activity described therein, that Respondent’s failure to maintain a record of all contacts or attempted contacts with debtors or others regarding an alleged debt, whether such contacts or attempted contacts were made by telephone, in writing, in person or by any other method constitutes a violation of Section 36a-809-9 of the Regulations.  Such violation forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;

WHEREAS, also in the Order and Notice, the Commissioner ordered, pursuant to Section 36a-50(c) of the Connecticut General Statutes, that not later than thirty (30) days from the date the Order to Make Restitution becomes permanent, Respondent shall repay any Connecticut consumer debtors plus interest who made payments to Respondent after October 1, 2005, and provide evidence of such repayments to the Director of the Division;

WHEREAS, Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes provides, in pertinent part, that “[i]f the person does not request a hearing within the time specified in the notice or fails to appear at the hearing, the commissioner shall issue an order to cease and desist against the person.  No such order shall be issued except in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54”;

WHEREAS, Section 36a-50(a)(2) of the Connecticut General Statutes provides, in pertinent part, that “[i]f such person does not request a hearing within the time specified in the notice or fails to appear at the hearing, the commissioner may, as the facts require, order that a civil penalty not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars per violation be imposed upon such person”;

WHEREAS, Section 36a-50(a)(3) of the Connecticut General Statutes provides that “[e]ach action undertaken by the commissioner under this subsection shall be in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54”;

AND WHEREAS, Section 36a-1-31(a) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies provides, in pertinent part, that “[w]hen a party fails to request a hearing within the time specified in the notice, the allegations against the party may be deemed admitted.  Without further proceedings or notice to the party, the commissioner shall issue a final decision in accordance with section 4-180 of the Connecticut General Statutes and section 36a-1-52 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies”.
 
 
II.  FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
 
1.
The Commissioner finds that the matters asserted, as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 16, inclusive, of Section II of the Order and Notice, shall constitute findings of fact within the meaning of Section 4-180(c) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and that the conclusions, as set forth in Section III of the Order and Notice, shall constitute conclusions of law within the meaning of Section 4-180(c) of the Connecticut General Statutes and Section 36a-1-52 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.
2.
The Commissioner finds that Respondent has engaged in acts or conduct which, pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, forms the basis to issue an order to cease and desist against Respondent, and, pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, forms the basis to impose a civil penalty upon Respondent.
3.
The Commissioner finds that the Order and Notice was given in compliance with Section 36a-52(a), subsections (a) and (c) of Section 36a-50 and Section 4-177 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
 
 
III.  ORDER

Having read the record, I HEREBY ORDER, pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) and subsections (a) and (c) of Section 36a-50 of the Connecticut General Statutes, that:

1.
American Billing & Collections, Inc., CEASE AND DESIST from violating Sections 36a-801(a), 36a-805(a)(9) and 36a-805(a)(10) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes, Sections 36a-806(a), 36a-808, 36a-811 and 36a-812 of the Connecticut General Statutes and Section 36a-809-9 of the Regulations;
2.
A CIVIL PENALTY of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) be imposed upon American Billing & Collections, Inc., to be remitted to the Department of Banking by cashier’s check, certified check or money order, made payable to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”, no later than thirty (30) days from the date this Order is mailed;
3.  The ORDER TO MAKE RESTITUTION issued on July 14, 2016, remains in effect and became permanent against American Billing & Collections, Inc. on August 6, 2016; and
4.
This Order shall become effective when mailed.
 

Dated at Hartford, Connecticut
this 24th day of October 2016.             

  ________/s/_________
  Jorge L. Perez
  Banking Commissioner

This Order was sent by certified mail,
return receipt requested, to Respondent
and its Registered Agent
on October 25, 2016.


American Billing & Collections, Inc.             Certified Mail No. 70151520000018249139
705 North Mountain Road
Newington, Connecticut 06111

American Billing & Collections, Inc.             Certified Mail No. 70151520000018249351
P.O. Box 283
Simsbury, Connecticut 06070

Robert A. Catalano, Registered Agent         Certified Mail No. 70151520000018249368
8 Treeborough Drive
P.O. Box 310356
West Hartford, Connecticut 06117

Robert A. Catalano, Registered Agent         Certified Mail No. 70151520000018249375
45 Tom-Lin Road
Newington, Connecticut 06111



Administrative Orders and Settlements