Is Genesee Valley Associates calling you? Here’s what you need to know.
No one likes hearing from a debt collector. It means that bills have piled up, payments have been missed, and unless a supportable payment arrangement is made, being sued in court may lie ahead. If you’ve incurred all this debt through no fault of your own, such as illness or job loss, the added stress can take a toll on your health, relationships, and more.
Fortunately the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, grants certain rights and protections for consumers who owe money. This federal law, which was enacted in 1977, prevents third-party debt collectors from using abusive tactics to a debt. Under the law, they are not allowed to do any of the following:
- Yell, swear, and make threats they cannot legally follow up on, such as having you arrested or imprisoned
- Call you at inconvenient times, such as before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. your time, or at inconvenient places, such as your place of work if your employer does not allow such calls
- Keep contacting you after you send a cease communications notice
- Talk to third parties (friends, neighbors, coworkers) about the debt
- Claim to be police officers or federal agents
Alleged Violations against Genesee Valley Associates*
Not all debt collectors respect the law. Genesee Valley Associates is headquartered in Rochester, New York, but collects consumer debt all over the country. A search of the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)website reveals that this debt collector has been sued several times over the years for alleged breaches of the FDCPA.
In March 2007, a California resident received a voice message stating that she should immediately call 1-800-921-0001 regarding “Case File 5550813,” and which provided no further statements or information.
When the plaintiff called back, she learned that the message had been left by a Genesee Valley Associates debt collector. She spoke to a representative named Marie Jacobs, who said that they were collecting on a debt originally owed to Bank of America MasterCard.
The Plaintiff denied owing the money and asked how she could dispute it. She allegedly responded by saying she didn’t know, so she called the Charge Off / Recovery Services Department at BMA and learned that none of her BMA accounts had ever been delinquent, charged-off, or sent to collections. During a subsequent conference call between the plaintiff, the BMA collections representative, and Ms. Jacobs, the latter insisted that the account had been charged-off in March 2002. She also allegedly refused to provide the plaintiff or the BMA representative with verification of the debt.
When the plaintiff phoned Genesee Valley Associates to obtain the company mailing address for a dispute letter, she was transferred to a supervisor named Mark, who allegedly spoke to her in hostile, threatening tones and said, “Well, you owe us a lot of money.” When she insisted that the Federal Trade Commission required him to provide her with the company mailing address, he allegedly retorted, “I would like to know what law that is.”
The plaintiff engaged an attorney who drew up a complaint accusing Genesee Valley Associates of the following FDCPA violations.
- Using abusive language and indulging in hostile communications in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(2)
- Misrepresenting the debt in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(2)(A)
- Failing to disclose that Genesee Valley Associates is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained from the plaintiff would be used for that purpose in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e( ll)
- Communicating with the plaintiff in a manner that obstructed her right to dispute the alleged Bank of America debt in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b)
- Sending written communications to consumers in states where Genesee Valley Associates is not qualified to transact business, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e
- Using unfair and unconscionable means to collect a debt in violation of 15 U.S.C. §1692f
The matter was later dismissed.
If you receive a call from 1-585-273-6450, 1-800-921-0001, 1-800-247-1993, 1-877-563-1691, or 1-585-278-1370, someone from Genesee Valley Associates is trying to collect payment on a debt. Although legally permitted to seek money from you to settle a valid debt, they may not use sarcastic or abusive language, misrepresent the debt, or refuse to provide you with dispute instructions. If their communications with you violate the FDCPA, consult a consumer attorney, as you could obtain statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation if you take them to court and win.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 4:07-cv-04136-CW from United States District Court, Northern District of California.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Genesee Valley Associates or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.