Is Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC calling you? Here's what you need to know.
When it comes to getting money, debt collectors are notoriously persistent. Prior to September 1977, their collection methods bordered on the abusive and resulted in so many personal bankruptcies that the US Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, in 1977 to bring the situation under control.
The FDCPA dictated that third-party debt collectors could not use abusive, unfair, and deceptive means to obtain money from consumers. The actions below, which were once part of a standard operating approach, were now illegal and punishable by heavy fines.
- Using profane and abusive language
- Calling a consumer outside of the 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. window in the consumer’s time zone
- Calling the consumer at work after being informed that the workplace does not allow non-business calls
- Calling and hanging up in a deliberate attempt to harass or annoy
- Telling the debtor’s friends, neighbors, and uninvolved family members about the debt
- Threatening legal action that the debt collector is not in a position to take or has no intention of taking
- Ignoring a cease communications notice or directly contacting someone who has legal representation with regards to the debt
The FDCPA also gives consumers the right to dispute a debt, demand its verification, and request no further contact from a third-party debt collector.
Alleged Violations against Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC*
Not every debt collector confines their tactics to FDCPA-approved boundaries. Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC was formed in 2002 and has around 135 employees at its two locations in Haverhill and Beverly, Massachusetts. In April 2014 it was acquired by CBE Group, which has been collecting debts since 1933 and operates in five locations: Cedar Falls, Iowa; Waterloo, Iowa; Haverhill, Massachusetts; Overland Park, Kansas and Manila, Philippines.
A search of records retained by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) turns up dozens of instances of Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC appearing in court to defend charges of improper debt collection.
On or around January 18, 2012, a debt collector from Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC called a Massachusetts resident, to collect a $600 debt allegedly owed to GE Bank. The plaintiff later claimed that the collector threatened to file a lawsuit against her if she failed to pay the debt by January 31, 2012. Ms. Pot informed them that she could not afford to pay $600 in such a short time and asked if she could set up a payment plan.
The collector allegedly insisted that she pay the whole amount by January 31, 2012, and added that she would have to pay court and attorney fees if she failed to do so. They also allegedly demanded that she borrow money from her friends and family.
Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC also allegedly failed to inform the plaintiff of her rights under the state and federal laws by written correspondence within 5 days after the initial communication, including the right to dispute the debt.
On or around January 26, 2012, the plaintiff called Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC and spoke with Holly Adams, a representative. Ms. Adams informed her that her account was in pre-litigation stage, which the plaintiff took to mean that a lawsuit against her was imminent. She hired an attorney.
The complaint filed with the US District Court accused Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC of the following FDCPA violations:
- Engaging in harassing and abusive behavior (15 U.S.C. § 1692d)
- Causing the phone to ring repeatedly to annoy Ms. Pot (15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5))
- Threatening to take legal action, without actually intending to do so (15 U.S.C. § 1692e(5))
- Using deceptive means to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692e(10))
- Failing to send the plaintiff a validation notice stating the amount of the debt, the name of the original creditor, and her right to dispute the debt within 30 days, have verification and judgement mailed to her, and request the name and address of the original creditor (15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(1-5)
The matter was later settled.
If you receive a call from 1-800-870-7218, someone from Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC is trying to contact you to collect a delinquent debt. If they threaten severe and / or illegal consequences for nonpayment, and fail to provide you with a validation notice within five days of the first communication, contact a consumer attorney. Such hostile behavior is illegal under the FDCPA, and you could receive statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation.
Never hesitate to use the rights that the law provides you.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 1:12-cv-10200-RWZ, from United States District Court, District of Massachusetts.
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 Nelson, Watson & Associates LLC or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.