Obtains $25 Million for the State of Texas in Illegal Debt Collecting Suit
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last week obtained a final judgment and permanent injunction against Samara Portfolio Management, LLC, Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka, P.C., and Joseph O. Onwuteaka, for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices—Consumer Protection Act (DTPA), Texas Debt Collection Act and the Identity Theft Protection and Enforcement Act (ITPA).
The defendants violated the DTPA by filing 898 consumer debt collection cases in Harris County against debtor-defendants who neither signed the underlying loan contract in Harris County or lived in Harris County at the time they were sued. In violation of the ITPA, defendants also failed to implement reasonable procedures to protect sensitive personal information in 123 of the lawsuits by filing unredacted social security numbers and driver’s license numbers.
Furthermore, defendants violated the Texas Debt Collection Act by attempting to collect on 63 motor vehicle debts without a license. The jury awarded civil penalties of $25,165,500 and attorneys’ fees of $559,231.30. Assistant Attorneys General Rick Berlin and Stephanie Eberhardt represented the State of Texas.
The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division receives and reviews complaints submitted to the office by consumers. While the attorney general is prohibited from representing such individuals, these complaints are used by the office to help shape priorities and identify issues affecting Texans. Consumers can file complaints by visiting: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/file-a-consumer-complaint