If you’ve fallen behind on your monthly debts, you’ve probably heard from a debt collector. These encounters are not typically pleasant, but for some indebted consumers, the experience can be traumatic. This is because many collection agencies use intimidation tactics to obtain debt payments, not caring that they are breaking the law.
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires third-party debt collectors be professional when communicating with consumers. Tactics like the following violate federal law and can result in significant sanctions being levied against the company.
- Calling you several times per day using an autodialer
- Refusing to prove that a debt is valid and that they are authorized to collect it
- Trying to collect amounts that are not authorized by law or the original creditor agreement
- Swearing and calling you names
- Failing or refusing to identify themselves as debt collectors in every communication
- Telling uninvolved third parties like your friends and co-workers that you owe money
Company Profile: Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc.
Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. is a debt collection agency located in Mobile, Alabama. A member of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, it was established in 1983, has less than 10 employees, and is managed by its President, David Carden.
Civil litigation records viewable at the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website indicate that several people who believed they were being harassed by Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. filed lawsuits to seek compensation.
Alleged Violations Against Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc.
According to PACER, in or around July 2012, Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. allegedly began trying to collect two medical debts from a St. Louis, Missouri resident. These calls, which were made to her cell phone, frequently resulted in voice messages that allegedly did not identify the caller or the reason for the call.
On or about July 6, the plaintiff obtained a copy of her credit report and discovered that Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. had been reporting one of the debts as delinquent. She phoned the agency to inquire.
During this conversation, agency representatives allegedly admitted that mail sent to her had been returned due to it having an incorrect address on file, but the agency reported the debt to the credit bureaus anyway.
The representative also told her about the second debt for the first time, and allegedly admitted that it had not mailed her anything on the subject, but would start reporting it to the credit bureaus too.
Taken aback by this aggressive tactic, the plaintiff asked if she was going to get into legal trouble as a result of the debts. The alleged response was, “If it is outstanding, well, I'd say that wasn't a good thing.”
Since she was feeling harassed by Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc., she hired a consumer attorney and sued the company for allegedly violating the FDCPA by:
- Using harassing and abusive means to collect a debt
- Violating her dispute rights by reporting the debt to the credit bureaus without her even knowing about it
- Failing to identify itself as a debt collector in all communications
- Using false, deceptive, and misleading means to collect a debt
- Using unfair and unconscionable means to collect a debt
- Implying that she would be sued if she didn’t pay
The matter was later dismissed.
Hire an Attorney
The phone numbers for this collection agency are:
If you see either number on your caller ID, it means that you are being called by Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. If they report your debt to the credit bureaus before you have a chance to dispute it and threaten litigation if you don’t pay on the spot, hire a consumer attorney who can help you assert your rights.
Gather as many materials as you can for your claim; they’ll be very useful for your FDCPA attorney.
If you file a claim against Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc. with your attorney’s help and win, you could potentially receive $1,000 per FDCPA violation plus applicable costs and damages. There’s no need to be afraid of filing a claim. Collection agencies need reminders that there are consequences for breaking the law.
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Gulf Coast Financial Associates, Inc., or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.
**Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is Case: 4:12-cv-01786-JAR from the Circuit Court, St. Louis City, State of Missouri, Associate Division.