If you’re being contacted by a collection agency about a delinquent debt, it is important to understand that you still have rights even if you owe money.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that governs debt collection activities. It prohibits debt collectors from using hostile, deceptive, and unfair means of obtaining money from you.
Generally speaking, debt collectors may not call you at unusual or inconvenient times and places. If you’ve advised them that your employer has a policy against such calls, they are not permitted to contact you at work. They must also stop contacting you if they know that an attorney is representing you about the debt.
Other FDCPA stipulations include:
- If you request in writing that a debt collector stop contacting you, they must cease further communications unless it is to confirm that there will be no further contact or notify you that legal proceedings are under way.
- Any debt collector who tries to obtain payments from you must legally provide certain details about the debt, such as the name of the creditor, the amount you owe, and how you can seek verification of or dispute the debt.
- If you dispute a debt, the debt collector must cease contact until the dispute has been investigated.
Not all debt collectors abide by the rules. Accounts Receivable Management, Inc., which was acquired by Northland Group, Inc in October 2014, provides debt collecting services all over the US. Founded in 1975, the company is based in Thorofare, New Jersey and operates call centers in Kentucky and Georgia. A search of US District Court files archived by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) shows that multiple FDCPA lawsuits have been filed against Accounts Receivable Management, Inc.
Tiffany N. Thorne v. Accounts Receivable Management (Case 1:11-cv-22290-RNS, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida)
According to PACER**, in November 2010 Tiffany Thorne, a Florida resident who allegedly owed a debt, received the following voicemail on her home phone:
This message is being left during business hours for Thorne Tiffany N. Please return our call at 888-548-8829 between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm Monday thru Thursday, Friday 8 am until 5 pm, Saturday 8 am until 12 noon. Thank you.
The caller, who was from Accounts Receivable Management, did not identify themselves or indicate that the communication was from a debt collector. Therefore, the message was a direct breach of the FDCPA, which requires collection agents to state that they are debt collectors seeking payments for an outstanding financial obligation, and any information received may be used for that purpose.
Ms. Thorne initiated a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Florida residents who received a similar telephone message. Later, a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
What to do if you get "the call"
If you get calls from 1-888-548-8829 or 856-931-4500, someone from Accounts Receivable Management Inc. is trying to contact you about repaying a debt. Being pursued by a debt collector can be an intimidating experience, but don’t let yourself be threatened or pressured into unfair payment plans.
If the debt collector misrepresents themselves or the debt, or uses abusive language to frighten payments out of you, see an experienced consumer attorney. Harassment and deception are are against federal law, and if the matter escalates to court, you could be compensated financially. The standard remedy is $1,000 per FDCPA violation, but successful plaintiffs can also be awarded court costs and attorney's’ fees.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is (Case 1:11-cv-22290-RNS, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida)
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Is Accounts Receivable Management or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.