FORT WORTH - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged a Tarrant County-based collection firm with attempting to unlawfully collect invalid debts from consumers nationwide. The Attorney General's enforcement action seeks a permanent injunction against DTech Billing Service, L.L.C., whose illegal collection practices include threatening telephone calls, deceptive mailers and excessive fees and charges.

“Today's enforcement action protects Texans from harassing phone calls and other unlawful debt collection efforts,” Attorney General Abbott said. “By attempting to collect from someone who does not owe a debt, collectors are violating the law. Debt collectors who break the law have no place in Texas.”

According to court documents, DTech Billing Service used numerous unlawful collection tactics on behalf of several telecommunications companies that provide payphone services, including collect calls, to inmates and other payphone users. DTech frequently made rude and harassing phone calls to consumers who maintained they had either satisfied the debt they owed or never accepted the collect calls and never incurred the alleged debt. Consumers also complained that DTech Billing Services failed to validate the debts owed and continued billing for those debts, even after consumers disputed the bills.

The Attorney General's lawsuit also charges DTech Billing Service with sending unlawful mailers to consumers, claiming the corporation's membership with a “credit reporting agent” and thereby threatening to harm consumers' credit ratings when consumers had not accepted the collect phone calls. DTech also failed to notify consumers about its two-week billing cycle, sometimes even charging a $29 late or processing fee before the consumer received a written statement.

The Attorney General seeks restitution for consumers who did not owe money but were coerced into paying the defendants. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties for violations of both the Texas Debt Collection Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Consumers who receive harassing calls or mail from debt collectors about invalid debts may call the Office of the Attorney General's toll-free complaint hotline at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us.