Is Associated Recovery Systems calling you? Here's what you need to know
The last call anyone wants to receive is from a debt collector. Chances are that your life is already stressful enough, with bills piling up and going into arrears. You may not be surprised when a creditor turns your account over to a third-party collection agency, but if the debt collector becomes hostile or deceptive during any or all of the conversations, it can take a toll on your well-being.
The good news is that as a consumer, you have certain rights and protections under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. This federal law was enacted to prevent third-party debt collectors from using abusive tactics to collect money for a debt. Under the law, debt collectors may not do any of the following:
- Use obscene and/or abusive language
- Call you before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. your time
- Call you at work after you inform them that such calls are not permitted
- Pretend to be attorneys or police officers if they are not
- Tell third parties (friends, neighbors, coworkers) about the debt
- Threaten to have you arrested
Not all debt collectors are mindful of consumer rights. ARS National Services Inc., which does business as Associated Recovery Systems, is a debt collection agency headquartered in Escondido, California. Its employee count falls within the 11 to 50 range, and a search of the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) reveals that Associated Recovery Systems has been sued several times over the years for alleged breaches of the FDCPA.
Joseph D. Stewart v. ARS National Services, Inc. d/b/a as Associated Recovery Systems
According to PACER** in 2009 Joseph D. Stewart, a Connecticut resident, began receiving calls from Associated Recovery Systems about a debt he owed to Capital One Bank. During one conversation a representative who identified himself as ‘Joe’ allegedly demanded an immediate payment of $900. When Mr. Stewart said he had just sent a payment to ARS, Joe replied that it had never been received.
In the complaint he filed with the US District Court, Mr. Stewart said he didn’t feel comfortable sending extra payments for ARS and asked for verification of the debt. Joe allegedly responded that if the amount was not paid, Mr. Stewart’s credit would be ruined “for life” and he would wind up living in a cardboard box.
Hearing this, Mr. Stewart hung up, but Joe called back and allegedly demanded a payment. He implied that failure to pay would be ruinous. Mr. Stewart alleged that he was so upset by these conversations that he had to see a therapist.
Mr. Stewart’s attorney accused Associated Recovery Systems of the following violations:
- engaging in telephone communications that were intended to abuse and harass a debtor (15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5))
- using unfair and unconscionable means to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692f)
The suit was later dismissed.
If you receive a call from 1-800-456-5053, someone from Associated Recovery Systems is trying to collect payment on a debt. Although the law permits a third-party debt collector to seek money from you to settle a financial obligation, they are not allowed to deceive you or behave in a way that a reasonable person would find abusive and harassing.
If a debt collector’s communications with you break the law, consult a consumer attorney. Once you have obtained legal representation with regards to the debt, the agency must stop contacting you about it. If they don’t, and the behavior persists, you are eligible for statutory damages of up to $1,000 per FDCPA violation if you take them to court and win.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is (Case 3:09-cv-01360-AWT from United States District Court, District of Connecticut)
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Associated Recovery Systems or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.