Is AmeriCOL Inc. calling you? Here’s what you need to know.
Most Americans are in debt to one party or another: credit cards, their mortgage lender, a medical services provider, and whatever institution issued their student loans. In most cases, careful money management can keep the situation from spiraling out of control.
Life, however, can issue unexpected setbacks, such as divorce, illness, and job loss, causing debt that was formerly manageable to suddenly become a serious burden. Once you start missing payments, sooner or later a third-party debt collector will be in touch.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, requires them to be professional and respectful when collecting or attempting to collect a debt from you. The law was originally passed in 1977 to curb abusive debt collectors, and prohibits them from doing any of the following while trying to settle a debt.
- Swearing, raising their voice, and calling you names like loser or deadbeat
- Calling you on a daily basis
- Threatening to have you arrested or ruin your credit permanently if you don’t pay
- Ignoring a formal cease communications request
- Trying to collect amounts that are not supported by law or the original creditor agreement
- Telling your friends, neighbors, and co-workers that you owe money
- Calling you at work when they know that your employer does not permit such calls
Although such activities are illegal, many debt collectors keep using them to harass consumers into making payments they can’t afford.
AmeriCOL is a collection agency located in Canyon County, CA. It was established in 2002 and is a smaller agency, with less than 10 employees. According to the records archived at the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website (pacer.gov), AmeriCOL has been accused of violating the FDCPA while attempting to collect debt payments from consumers.
Michael Lecesse v. AmeriCOL Inc.
According to PACER** in or around early 2009, California resident Michael Lecesse began receiving calls and letters from AmeriCOL Inc. He later claimed that the company representatives never sent him a debt verification letter that advised him of his right to dispute, leaving them free to aggressively pursue collection. Their methods allegedly included threatening to report the debt to the credit bureaus and informing him that a lawsuit was imminent.
Mr. Lecesse retained a consumer attorney and sued AmeriCOL Inc. for the following alleged FDCPA violations:
- Engaging in harassing, oppressive behavior while trying to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692d)
- Using false and misleading representations to collect or attempt to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692e)
- Failing to send Mr. Lecesse a validation letter within five days of its initial contact with him (15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a))
- Threatening legal action that the company had no intention of taking (15 U.S.C. § 1692f)
The matter was later settled.
The phone number for AmeriCOL, Inc. is 1-661-252-0222. If it shows up on your caller ID, a debt collector is trying to contact you about an alleged debt.
Under the FDCPA it is illegal for a third-party debt collector to make baseless threats, report inaccurate information to the credit bureaus, and fail to send you a verification letter that summarizes your rights. Should this happen to you, see a consumer attorney immediately. They will deal with AmeriCOL, Inc. on your behalf and help you take the company to court if the harassment continues.
You could be awarded $1,000 per FDCPA violation plus actual damages, court costs, and attorney fees. Exercise your rights, and AmeriCOL, Inc. could end up paying you instead.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is (Case 2:09-cv-03402-RGK-PLA from United States District Court, Central District of California, Western 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 AmeriCOL Inc. or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.