CHARLESTON -- A Raleigh County woman is suing JCPenney Credit Services, General Electric and NCO Financial Systems after she claims they engaged in unlawful debt collection, unfair or deceptive practices and invasion of privacy, among other things.

Esther Viola Abrams husband died on Aug. 1, 2008. Near the time of his deat, Abrams received a billing statement from her late husband's JCPenney's card with a payment due date of Aug. 15, 2008, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Abrams claims the billing statement showed that her late husband was the only name on the account and that he still owed a balance of $1,543.49 on the account with a minimum payment of $77. She claims she made a payment of $81 online on Aug. 5, 2008, to the account.

Before the next billing statement could be sent, Abrams called JCPenney and informed them that her husband and died and it should make a claim against his estate, according to the suit, but the defendant continued to send monthly billing statements to her late husband at her address.

Abrams claims the second billing statement was received on Sept. 15, 2008, but that she did not make payment on it because she had already informed JCPenney to make a claim against her late husband's estate.

In October 2008, JCPenney's Collection Department began to call Abrams about the unpaid bill and in December 2008, she received a letter from NCO stating that the account had been referred to it for collection, according to the suit.

On March 11, 2009, Abrams received a fifth billing statement from JCPenney, but the defendant had changed the account into her name instead of her late husband's name, even though she had not requested this, according to the suit.

Abrams claims the defendants falsely published to at least one credit reporting agency that she and a delinquent account with them.

The defendants engaged in unlawful debt collection; unfair or deceptive acts or practices; negligence; defamation; and invasion of privacy, according to the suit.

Abrams is seeking that her action be certified as a class action on behalf of the proposed Class; that the court grant a permanent injunction against the defendants forbidding them from undertaking unlawful actions and/or omissions; and that the court award her and all Class members damages that do not exceed $75,000. She is being represented by Harry F. Bell Jr.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-1145

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