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National Grid Excessive Debt Collection Calls Massachusetts Class Action

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The complaint for this class action alleges that National Grid USA Service Company, Inc., First Contact, LLC, and iQor US, Inc. have violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws and its debt collection regulations. The complaint alleges that the companies are responsible for calling consumer debtors more than twice a week.

The class for this action is all consumers living in Massachusetts who, between November 13 2015 and November 13, 2019, received more than two telephone calls regarding a National Grid debt, from National Grid, First Contact, or iQor, within a seven-day period, to their residence, cell phone, or other provided telephone number.

National Grid and iQor are creditors under the Massachusetts Debt Collection Regulations (MDCR). First Contact is a subsidiary of iQor. 

The complaint quotes MDCR as deeming it an unfair or deceptive act for a creditor to “initiate a communication with any debtor via telephone, either in person or via text messaging or recorded audio message, in excess of two such communications in each seven-day period to either the debtor’s residence, cellular telephone, or other telephone number provided by the debtor as his or her personal telephone number.”

This two-calls-per-week limit applies, the complaint says, “regardless of the outcome of the call.” It refers to the initiation of a call by the creditor. The complaint quotes a previous case as saying, “The fact that [creditor] did not successfully directly convey information to [debtor] is unimportant, because [creditor] nevertheless initiated the process of conveying information to [debtor] via telephone.”

In this case, the original debt was allegedly incurred by plaintiff Robert Nightingale with National Grid, for personal, family, or household purposes. At some point, National Grid assigned iQor and First Contact to collect the debt. However, the complaint alleges, the companies did not obey the law, calling Nightingale on June 20, June 21, June 22 (twice), and on June 23, 2018.

Unusually, Nightingale sent National Grid a demand letter on July 3, 2018 complaining about the excessive and unlawful calls. The complaint says, “The letter sought, inter alia, statutory and actual damages, double or treble damages, and for National Grid to cease the illegal calls.” To date, Nightingale has not received any response to this letter. 

The complaint’s sole count is violation of the MCPA and MDCR. It claims that the defendants in this case “willfully or knowingly violated” the law and that Nightingale is therefore “entitled to double or treble damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”

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