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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, October 3, 2016

$95 million settlement resolves claims against retailer USA Discounters

By Richard A. Roth, J.D.

USA Discounters, Ltd., has agreed to settle claims of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices raised by 49 states and the District of Columbia. Under the settlement agreement, the company will provide approximately $95.9 million in relief to consumers who were harmed by its sales and collection practices. The company is in bankruptcy, and the settlement was approved by the bankruptcy court on September 29.

According to a press release by the Georgia Attorney General’s office, USA Discounters sold jewelry, consumer electronics, appliances, and furniture, focusing its marketing on servicemembers and veterans. The company, which also operated as USA Living and Fletcher’s Jewelry, sold its merchandise at inflated prices, charged high interest rates, and then engaged in abusive collection practices. These included contacting individuals that were higher in a servicemember’s chain of command and filing all of its collection suits in a few Virginia counties, regardless of where the servicemember lived or where the purchase was made.

Relief. Under the settlement, USA Discounters has agreed to:

  • write off all outstanding balances on accounts that date from June 1, 2012, or earlier;
  • give a $100 credit to all other accounts that have not been discharged in bankruptcy;
  • write off all judgments that were not obtained in a proper state;
  • reduce all judgments that were obtained in a proper state by 50 percent; and
  • correct all negative information on consumers’ credit reports;

The company also has agreed to pay a $40 million penalty to the jurisdictions that participated in the settlement. However, that settlement is subordinated to other claims allowed by the bankruptcy court, making its payment questionable.

Colorado did not participate in the settlement.

Companies: Fletcher’s Jewelers; USA Discounters, Ltd.; USA Living

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