Is GFS Incorporated calling you? Here's what you need to know.
Recent statistics suggest that debt has been growing at a faster rate than take-home pay for most Americans.
The average indebted household in the US owes a revolving balance of over $15,000 on their credit cards, which essentially means that people are paying nearly 9% of their yearly income in the interest rates alone.
When job loss, illness, or a costly setback like a divorce hinders your ability to pay the minimum on your debts each month, you’ll eventually hear from debt collectors.
Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires third party debt collectors to treat consumers with professionalism and respect, actions like the following are regrettably common, making debt collectors the subject of hundreds of complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission every year.
- Swearing, yelling, and using profanities
- Threatening to have you arrested or sent to jail if you do not pay
- Calling you at your workplace after you tell them you can’t talk to them there
- Demanding amounts that are not supported by law or the original creditor agreement
- Telling your friends, co-workers, and neighbors that they’re trying to collect a debt from you
Alleged Violations against GFS Incorporated*
GFS Incorporated, which does business under the name Shaffer and Associates, is a collection agency located in Columbia, Missouri. It was established in 1991, employs 20 to 49 employees, and is a member of the Missouri Collectors’ Association. Records retained by the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website indicate that GFS Incorporated has been accused of violating the FDCPA during its dealings with consumers.
On May 1, 2010, GFS Incorporated contacted Missouri resident’s daughter, Tiffany, in an effort to collect a delinquent debt. A collector who identified herself as Katie left a voicemail message on the daughter's answering machine that was as follows: “Hi, this message is for Ted or [plaintiff's name]. If this is not Ted or [plaintiff's name], please hang up or disconnect now. By continuing to listen to this message you are acknowledging that you are Ted or [plaintiff's name]. This is Katie with Shaffer & Associates collection agency in Columbia, Missouri. Give me a call regarding a personal business matter. I need you to call me back at (800) 478-6103. Thank you.”
The plaintiff's daughter listened to the entire message later in the day and became quite concerned. She immediately returned the call to Katie and introduced herself as the plaintiff’s daughter. Katie stated that she wished to speak only with the plaintiff or her husband. The daughter advised Katie that the plaintiff's husband had passed away in February of 2008 and asked how she was able to obtain the daughter's phone number. Katie allegedly replied that “when we are looking for people with outstanding debts, we use a database to find the phone numbers of people who are close to them.” Katie went on to say that “I probably shouldn’t even share this with you, but the other number besides yours that we have on file is XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
The plaintiff later complained that at no time between the period of time spanning from April 15, 2010 to June 28, 2010 did she receive any written correspondence from GFS Incorporated which provided the information and disclosures required by the FDCPA. She hired a consumer attorney and sued the agency for the following FDCPA violations:
- Speaking with the plaintiff's daughter for any reason other than location attempt purposes
- Discussing the debt with uninvolved third parties
- Failing to send the required validation notice
The matter was later dismissed.
The phone number for GFS Incorporated is 1-573-875-7966. If your caller ID shows an incoming call from this number, a debt collector is trying to contact you or locate someone that you know. If you do owe a debt and the collector goes into detail about it with any of your friends or family members, contact a consumer attorney.
Debt collectors may only reach out to uninvolved third parties for location purposes, and if they disclose any information about the debt, you can take the matter to court and potentially be awarded $1,000 per FDCPA violation, as well as court costs and attorney fees. When your rights are violated, your attorney will help you pursue compensation.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 4:10-cv-01295-DJS from United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division.
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 GFS Incorporated or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.