The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from unethical and abusive debt collection practices. This federal law bestows the following rights on consumers who have a financial obligation:
- Notify debt collectors that they must stop contacting you
- Request and receive verification of the alleged debt within five days of being contacted about it
- Sue debt collectors who violate the FDCPA in their dealings with you
- Be represented by an attorney in a debt collection case, requiring debt collectors to only deal with your attorney about the matter
Although collecting a debt is legal, threatening and harassing consumers is not. Debt collectors may also not claim to be attorneys or law enforcement when they are not, or threaten you with incarceration if you do not pay.
Alleged Violations against Niagara Credit Solutions*
Niagara Credit Solutions is located in Williamsville, New York. The company’s corporate profile on ZoomInfo states that the employee count ranges between 100 and 250, and its speciality is the recovery of charged-off credit card, consumer loan, and auto deficiency accounts. Frequent complaints have been made about debt collection practices that allegedly breach the FDCPA.
According to PACER (public access to court electronic records), in July 2011 a resident of Ellsworth, PA, learned that Niagara Credit Solutions (NCS) had contacted her father, who cosigned a debt she had incurred. the plaintiff contacted NCS to discuss payment arrangements, and was told that her father’s property would be seized if she did not pay the debt. The agent also threatened to garnish her wages if the debt was not paid off by July 23, 2011. On July 20, an NCS agent called her and said that despite the July 23 deadline, there would be consequences if she did not pay by the end of the day.
Four days later, another agent called her workplace. When a coworker who answered the phone advised that the plaintiff could not receive personal calls there, the agent allegedly accused to coworker of lying. On July 29 another call was made to her workplace, and when the coworker repeated the earlier warning, the collector said, “I know she’s allowed to take personal calls.” The agent requested contact information for the employer’s corporate headquarters and threatened to contact it and complain that the plaintiff would not accept NCS’ phone calls.
In the Complaint filed with the US District Court, Niagara Credit Solutions was accused of the following FDCPA violations:
- Contacting the plaintiff at an inconvenient place and time
- Contacting her at her workplace even after learning that her employer prohibits such calls
- Using profane and abusive language
- Misrepresenting the character, amount, and legal status of the debt
- Threatening her with wage garnishment and property seizure
- Employing false and deceptive means to collect a debt
The matter was later dismissed.
What to do if you get ‘the call’
If you receive a call from 1-716-681-6816, Niagara Credit Solutions is contacting you about an alleged debt. When you speak to the representative, request information about the debt in writing as well as proof that NCS is authorized to collect it. If the agency does not provide you with the requested details and become harassing or threatening in their communications with you, contact an attorney. Suing an abusive debt collector can earn you up to up to $1,000 for each FDCPA violation, as well as attorney’s fees, and ultimately bring the harassment to an end.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 2:11-cv-01039-TFM, from United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania.
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 Niagara Credit Solutions or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.