Is American Recovery Service Inc calling you? Here's what you need to know.
When financial pressures start building up and you fall behind in your bill payments, it’s only a matter of time before debt collectors start calling you. These calls are stressful at best when you know you owe money, but if the collector behaves in ways calculated to intimidate, deceive, or threaten you, it’s even worse. Consequently, many debtors make payment promises that they can’t afford or keep, and in the long run it makes the debt collector even more hostile and persistent.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federally enacted law that regulates the way that personal, household, or family debts can be collected.
These include credit card debts, car and mortgage loans, student loans, medical debts, and bounced checks. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FDCPA defines debt collectors as those who collect debts on behalf of creditors. Examples include:
- Collection agencies
- Attorneys who specialize in debt collecting
- Companies that try to collect on debts they purchase
Not everyone is aware that the FDCPA prevents debt collectors from doing the following:
- Using profane and/or abusive language
- Calling you nonstop using robodialers
- Contacting you after you ask them to stop
- Calling you before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. your time
- Call you at work if they’ve been advised that your employer does not allow such calls
- Pretend to be an attorney, police officer, or another law enforcement official
- Contact you when you have legal representation regarding the debt
- Discuss the debt with anyone except you, your spouse, or your attorney
American Recovery Service Inc (ARSI) is a collection agency with headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California. Founded in 1986, the company states on its website that it employs almost 200 people in Southern California. Published specialties include demand letters, first party collections, and third party collections. The PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website has several archived lawsuits with American Recovery Service Inc being named as a defendant. In each instance, one or more FDCPA violations are alleged.
Joan Whildin v. American Recovery Service Inc.
According to PACER**, in May 2011 Joan Whilden, a senior citizen who had fallen behind in her bill payments, received a letter from American Recovery Service Inc requesting payment for a debt she owed JC Penney. Ms Whilden approached a legal aid attorney in Chicago, who wrote ARSI in May to advise the following:
- She was now represented by counsel
- The collection agency was to cease contacting her
- All further collection activities were to be stopped because she was financially unable to pay the debt
The communications continued, so another attorney from the legal aid clinic sent a second letter in August 2012. Finally, a lawsuit was filed with the US District Court, accusing ARSI of the following violations:
- Communicating with a consumer after being told to cease communications, which is prohibited under Section 1692c(c)
- Continuing to demand payment of a debt that the consumer has indicated that they refuse to pay. (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c).)
- Communicating with a consumer who is represented by an attorney (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(2).)
The matter was then settled.
The phone numbers for American Recovery Service Inc are 1-805-379-8500 and 1-888-395-ARSI. If you see either number on your caller ID, one of the company's debt collectors is trying to contact you. If they indulge in illegal activities such as use an automated dialer to phone you incessantly, keep contacting you even after you ask them to stop, or try to intimidate you into making payments, see an attorney. You may be in debt, but you still have rights. If you end up suing American Recovery Service Inc, you could win statutory damages of up to $1,000 per FDCPA violation.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is (Case: 1:12-cv-06811 from United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division)
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against American Recovery Service Inc or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.