A Swansea woman has filed suit against a financial corporation, alleging the corporation violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it attempted to collect a non-existent debt from her.

Bernadette Benson claims she received a letter from defendant Commonwealth Financial Systems. In the letter, Commonwealth claimed Benson owed it $25,150.90.

Benson responded on Feb. 19, disputing the validity of the alleged debt and requesting verification of it, according to the complaint filed May 18 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

"Defendant did not provide validation or verification of the alleged debt, and did not respond to Plaintiff's February 19, 2010, letter," the suit states. "Any alleged debt the Defendant was seeking to collect through its letter of February 3, 2010, either did not exist or was barred by the statute of limitations."

In her complaint, Benson alleges Commonwealth violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by failing to provide verification of the debt, by demanding payment of a non-existent debt, by demanding payment of a debt barred by the statue of limitation and by failing to respond to Benson's letter.

Because of Commonwealth's actions, Benson claims she sustained emotional distress.

In her two-count complaint, Benson is seeking compensatory damages of more than $104,000, punitive damages of more than $100,000 and attorneys' fees of $50,000, plus costs.

David M. Duree of David M. Duree and Associates in O'Fallon will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-244.

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