Is Apothaker and Associates calling you? Here’s what you need to know.
Financial hardship takes a toll on anybody. When credit card debt, overdue mortgages, and delinquent student loans leads to harassing calls from debt collectors, it makes things even worse.
Many people are so stressed out by their situation that they forgot one important point. While attempting to collect a debt from you is legal, outright harassment is not.
Such behavior is illegal and can draw punitive action from the Federal Trade Commission, but some debt collectors ignore the fact, hoping that the debtor will be frightened into paying.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted for the sole purpose of protecting consumers from harassment by unethical debt collectors. It requires collection agents to identify themselves in every communication, notify the consumer that any information gained will be used for the purpose of collecting a debt, and notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt.
The following actions are NOT permitted:
- Calls outside of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in the consumer’s timezone are unreasonable
- Continuously calling with the intent to annoy, harass, or abuse
- Refusing or failing to stop communications upon request
- Calling a consumer’s workplace after being advised that such calls are not allowed
- Contacting a consumer represented by an attorney with regards to the debt
- Representing themselves as attorneys or law enforcement officers if they are not
- Threatening arrest or legal action that they cannot or have no intention of taking
- Using profane or abusive language
- Communicating with any third party about the debt except the consumer’s spouse or attorney
Apothaker and Associates is a law firm headquartered in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Established in 2001, it is one of the busiest collection law firms, with both collection agencies and junk debt buyers as clients. (Junk debt buyers purchase debt that has been charged off by the original creditor and attempt to collect.) Records archived by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website indicate that Apothaker and Associates has been sued for allegedly crossing the line with certain consumers and accused of violating the FDCPA.
Camille Miressi v. Is Apothaker and Associates, P.C. et al.
According to PACER**, in or around 2010, Ms Camille Miressi, a Pennsylvania resident, received the following message on her voicemail:
Camille, it’s Donna Apothaker. Give me a call back at 800-672-0215, extension 112. Thanks.
Ms Miressi, who allegedly had a delinquent credit card account, claimed that during subsequent communications with collection agents from the firm, she was intimidated and verbally abused: during one call, an Apothaker and Associates representative allegedly warned Ms. Miressi that if she did not pay, a sheriff’s sale of her personal belongings would take place.
Her attorney accused Apothaker and Associates of the following FDCPA violations:
- 15 U.S.C. §§1692d(6), which prohibits leaving telephone messages that do not meaningfully disclose the caller’s identity
- 15 U.S.C. §§1692e(11) which requires debt collectors to disclose that any information they obtain will be used for that purpose.
- 15 U.S.C. §§1692e(4), which prohibits debt collectors from making threats of property seizure, etc, that they do not intend to take.
In its filed answer to the complaint, Apothaker and Associates denied that Ms. Miressi had suffered distress-induced damages, “and if she did, then all such damages were as a result of her own actions, particularly her use of a credit card and subsequent failure to pay for her purchases in a timely manner.”
The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
The phone numbers for Apothaker and Associates are 1-800-672-0215 and 1- 856-780-1000. If you see this number on your caller ID, a debt collector is trying to contact you. If they leave a message that does not identify them as debt collectors seeking payment for a debt, or if they threaten to have your property seized or wages garnished as a consequence of nonpayment, contact a consumer attorney. You could be compensated up to $1,000 per FDCPA violation as well as actual damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees, reminding debt collectors that there are lines that cannot be crossed.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is Case (Case 3:10-cv-02411-RDM from United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania)
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Apothaker and Associates or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.