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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

A Pennsylvania-based debt-collection company has been hit with a $1.5-million judgment in a Texas court for repeatedly leaving vile voice messages over an alleged $200 debt.

Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT) barraged Allen Jones, of Dallas, with a series of harassing and racially charged phone calls. The company's behavior clearly was over the top, but it raises this curious question: Which is worse, (1) to have a debt collector call you vile names; or (2) to have a debt collector lie to you--about who they represent, what they legally can do to collect the alleged debt, and other relevant matters?

Both are violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), and it's disgusting to be the recipient of either. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have had debt collectors hurl insults and abusive language in our direction. But we are particularly familiar with blatant falsehoods, the kind noted in No. 2 above.

The ACT case is a brazen example of just how depraved debt collectors can be. Here is a sampling of a few cheery greetings the company's representatives left for Allen Jones:

"This is your motherf------ wake-up call you little lazy a-- b----," a collector said in one early-morning message obtained by Dallas/Fort Worth's WFAA-TV. "Get your motherf------ n----r ass up and go pick some motherf------ cotton fields."

Unfortunately for the debt collectors, Jones saved the messages as evidence. And it turns out a jury wasn't amused. Here is a news report from Dallas:

Jones' attorney said, "If we did not have tapes, no one would ever have believed that this happened."

Well, we have tapes, too--of representatives from Birmingham-based Ingram & Associates, working on behalf of Pennsylvania-based NCO to collect an alleged debt to American Express.

Our tapes do not contain the kind of vulgarities that Jones experienced. But they do include plenty of abusive language and, more importantly to us, out and out lies. In fact, we suspect the kind of falsehoods that were used against us are used against alleged debtors all over the country--probably because they work.

What kind of underhanded tactics have we experienced from debt collectors? You will be learning, and hearing, much more shortly.

Meanwhile, we are delighted that Allen Jones is holding at least one debt collector accountable. We have already shown on this blog that the actions of unethical debt collectors take a high toll on society. If more juries hand down verdicts like the one in Texas, perhaps debt collectors will think twice before resorting to falsehoods, deceit, and abuse.

Originally posted to RogerShuler on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 09:12 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Phone companies selling fraudulant debts (6+ / 0-)

    GTE North bill from over 10 years ago, paid in full when a I had the phone shutoff.GtE North was sold off to Verizon.
    3 Years later to get a Verizon phone it had to be paid a second time.
    Around 2 years ago a debt collector based out of Illinois started trying to get paid for this old fraudulant zombie debt.
    Verizon and phone companies across this country sell old and in alot of cases fraudulant debts to these collectors.This particular debt collector has had a class action suit brought against it by either the state of MN or WI dont remeber which and its home state of Illinois with Lisa Madigan pushing changed laws becuase of this 1 debt collector.
    Last year with medical bills piling up I filed bankruptcy to get rid of all the unsecured debt.
    That phone bill was included so I would not be bothered by the debt collector.
    When the federal court discharged the bankruptcy they sent me a notice saying Wells Fargo, my mortgage company was the only creditor they hadnt been able to notify.
    Several months later that debt collector started trying to collect on that zombie debt yet again.
    Informed that I had filed bankruptcy they tried to deny that they had been informed by the court.
    Was told by the supivisor that they would note it on the account and move on.
    How much do you wanna bet they try again in the next year or 2?

    •  years ago (5+ / 0-)

      my teenage child was sent overdue notices on a credit card that had nothing to do with her... you wouldn't believe the crappola the collection company gave me on the phone; I'll tell you what :-) fax those suckers a demand letter that the matter be straightened out in 2 days time tops ( this was back when credit reports didn't have to fix things under a time table so they didn't fix them at all ) or you'll do this that whatever you feel comfortable leveraging..... I'd suggest don't bluff if you tell them you are going to report them to the Atty. General of your state be prepared to do it.... and hope you won't have to .... list the Better Business Bureau that you intend to contact get all the relevant agencies and organization listed in your fax and then put a CC: your family attorney ( I fudged  on the attorney and listed a name of well known legal firm in my state said they were the  family lawyer that was a bluff and the only bluff... but ) the idiot collection agency and their insane assertion that my kid was responsible for a credit card debt went away very fast... they  zeroed their records corrected in two days... I faxed them two times per day for two days with updates on each letter ... always polite but very firm and pushy....pushy....pushy

      FAX always use a fax they hate that ....

      that was many many moons ago but last week for the first time in years I had to deal with a stubborn contract problem with foot dragging people ... I sent them an email with CC: to relevant associated entity... and geeze did that get them moving in record time with a cooperative attitude ....

      don't ever give the impression that you are doing your letter replies or email alone.... let them know you'll CC: your congress person, their superiors, the home office, the attorney general the district attorney... whomever you think, if push came to shove, you would actually get on a phone and ask for their help if you know that your issue is not frivolous to their office and if you're ready to make a complaint or charge against them to follow it through if you have to... don't back down one single inch with those creatures

      Watch the Senate floor. You know what you'll see happening? Nothing. I sit there wondering what are they doing in China right now. - Sen. Michael Bennet

      by anyname on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 10:27:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Every few months I get a rash of calls (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, Josiah Bartlett, Dave in AZ

    from numbers I don't know.  When I've answered, they speedily mumble who they're with, then try to get me to give my name, address, ss# to confirm I'm who they're looking for.

    My response is a polite no, then a request for specifics from their info. Usually the middle initial or the ss# is different, so I tell them to remove my number from their account info and hang up.

    Now I just let them go to vm and I hardly ever get any messages (surprise!).

    I got tangled with Direct Buy over a decade ago - one of their collections guys called me all kinds of things. They contacted me in writing as requested, then after a year or two, just dropped of the earth.

    IIRC, I read recently they lost a court case that said they tricked people into memberships, etc. -- pretty much my experience with them.

    I'm still waiting for the ****ing free gift I was s'posed to get for taking the tour [sniffs, tear rolls down cheek]

    Republicans RUIN, Democrats Improve & Empower -- No More BU**SH**!

    by Chirons apprentice on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 10:14:53 AM PDT

    •  If you ever hear . . . (4+ / 0-)

      from an outfit called NCO, be very wary. They are among the worst of the worst. They are based in Pennsylvania, and I believe they do work across the country.

      Anyone dealing with debt collectors should check out Bud Hibbs' web site. Very informative:

      Here is Bud Hibbs' list of some of the worst collection outfits:

      •  When i filed bankruptcy last year (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody, myboo, Dave in AZ

        on my hospital bills NCO was among them as was Asset Acceptance.
        I was paying my bills but decided to file when NCO demanded 150 a month.
        The hospital had split the bill 9 ways to sunday and shipped the bills to multiple companies, and there was no way I could pay 150 towards just 1 bill.

      •  I remember NCO . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I moved back into a house that I had previously rented out, in 2003. Shortly I got a letter from NCO claiming I had an unpaid debt and demanded that I call them immediately to arrange payments. My first reaction was that maybe my renters had received one of the many credit card offers I used to receive in the mail, and had opened a CC in my name. So I called them right away. They claimed the debt was a credit card account I had opened in 1981!!! I didn't recognize the name of the bank, and they said that didn't matter, and they wanted me to give my banking info & authorize a debit immediately to "avoid further legal action". I told them no way in hell I was giving out any banking info, and told them I had declared bankruptcy in 1983 and would have included that CC account in the bankruptcy, if indeed it was my account. (I went through a divorce in 1983 and also declared bankruptcy as the to be ex-wife had maxed out all our joint CC accounts, and I wasn't sure what else she might have opened that I might be on the hook for)

        Well, NCO started calling 5-6 times a day making all kind of threats - putting a lien on my house, garnishment of wages, etc. So, I had to send them a letter telling them not to call me again, and if they produced they CC contract with my signature on it and if I couldn't prove I had included it in my bankruptcy, I would pay it in full immediately. I got a few more calls after that and, surprisingly, one came from an honest debt collector. He admitted that all they had was my name, and the amount of the alleged debt - no SS# for me, no DOB, no CC account #. They didn't even have my address, they'd found it in public records, and didn't have my phone # - until I had called them.

        A bunch of dirty crooks.

    •  I used to get calls on my Google voice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bluerall, Dave in AZ

      number like this. At the time I wasn't using the number for anything, and it was set to ring through to all my home and business numbers at the same time. I had forgotten about the service, anyway. So I couldn't even tell which number they had been trying to reach.

      A lot of them have the call set up so that after a robo spiel you must transfer in or call back, and the person you reach at their company (or the answering service they employ that has been told to lie and say they have no idea what it is about) is just going to pass it on anyway.

      Sometimes there is just no way to get to the bottom of it.

      "Too big to fail" is not too big to jail.

      by Angela Quattrano on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 11:36:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good, thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, marabout40, Dave in AZ

    The GOBP party is the destroyer of the middle class and of America on behalf of their corporate masters.

    by a2nite on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 10:32:06 AM PDT

  •  I have been besieged by (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluerall, Dave in AZ

    collection calls lately, for debts that I have nothing to do with. They are for other people, and I haven't known any of them. Most have been for men I've never heard of. One, was a claim for some kind of medical equipment provided to the daughter of a woman whose name is the same as mine.

    All of these calls have been to my cell phone, except the medical equipment one, which was to my work number. I am mystified as to how my cell phone or work numbers have become available to collectors.

    In all cases, when I explained that I did not know the party sought, (and that I don't have a daughter!), I received an apology and was told my number would be removed from the account. So not too bad. However, it's helpful to know that if they start lying to me or leaving me abusive messages, I might have some recourse.

    We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. --Willy Wonka

    by DreamyAJ on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 11:21:23 AM PDT

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