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N.Y. Glass Shop Owner Banned from Continuing to do Business Under Current Name; Neon Barred from Collecting Consumer Debts in State

The state attorney general for New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, announced yesterday that his office has obtained settlements with Neon Claims Advantage LLC of Nebraska and Alan Moore, the former owner of the defunct Quality First Auto Glass, in Amherst, N.Y.

With the settlement, the attorney general's office has barred Neon from collecting consumer debts in New York state after it failed to include required language in letters it sent to consumers in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Likewise, the attorney general's office permanently barred Moore from doing business as Quality First Auto Glass (though he did close the business in February 2006). Moore had attempted to collect more than $233,000 from 424 consumers in the state, resulting from reduced reimbursements from insurance companies. Moore had contracted Neon to collect the outstanding balances directly from consumers-after their insurers failed to pay the full amount invoiced by Moore's shop.

"Insurance companies and the auto repair industry have established processes for reimbursing service providers for automobile glass replacement," says Cuomo. "Fortunately, my office discovered the business's and its debt collector's attempts to illegally collect the difference before they actually defrauded Western New York consumers."

According to a statement issued by the attorney general's office, Moore was in business from 1993 to 2006. After he went out of business in February 2006, he contracted Neon to assist him in collecting outstanding balances directly from consumers.

Among the items listed in the statement from the attorney general's office was one claim in which Moore submitted a $1,061.69 claim to an insurance company, and received a payment of $476.19. After going out of business, Moore sought the remaining $585.50 from the consumer, according to the statement.

Moore provided 424 accounts worth a total of $233,000 to Neon Claims Advantage, according to the report. The Attorney General's Office found that Neon made misleading claims and failed to validate the amount of the debt in letters to consumers, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Neon representative Lynette Hartman issued the following statement to™/AGRR magazine this afternoon regarding the allegations.

"We relied on legal counsel to design the letters and develop a collections program legal and useable in all 50 states," says Hartman. "An issue was discovered, [and] it has been rectified and we have since turned the letters and program development over to an attorney who specializes in collections."

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