Your phone is ringing for the fifth time in just as many hours, and a glance at the caller ID confirms that the collection agency pursuing your credit card arrears is calling again.
You’ve told them that you can’t afford to pay and to stop calling, but they seem to take your protests as encouragement. To learn more about your rights as an indebted consumer, read on.
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a consumer protection law that prohibits debt collectors from using abusive tactics to bully you into paying them. If they subject you to treatment like the following, they are breaking the law and you have grounds to sue.
- Swearing at you, yelling, or threatening violence
- Saying that they will seize your property or garnish your wages
- Attempting to collect a debt discharged in a previous bankruptcy
- Calling at all hours of the day and night
- Claiming that you owe an amount that’s not supported by law or the original creditor agreement
- Discussing your debt with anyone except you, your spouse, or your attorney
Company Profile: Shaffer & Associates
If you are being called by Shaffer & Associates, information about the company is below.
Shaffer & Associates, which also does business as GFS, Inc., is a debt collection company located in Columbia, Missouri. It was established in 1991, has approximately 35 employees, and is managed by Sherman Crites.
It is a member of both the Missouri Collectors Association and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals.
Litigation records stored online at the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website suggest that consumers who believed they were being harassed by Shaffer & Associates filed lawsuits to stop the unwanted contact.
Alleged Violations against Shaffer & Associates**
According to PACER, on or about May 1, 2010, Shaffer & Associates allegedly attempted to collect a consumer debt from a Missouri resident by calling her daughter home phone number. One collector who identified herself as Katie left the following voicemail message on her daughter's answering machine:
“Hi, this message is for [Paintiff's Name]. If this is not [Paintiff's Name], please hang up or disconnect now. By continuing to listen to this message, you are acknowledging that you are [Paintiff'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.”
When the plaintiff's daugther called back and spoke to Katie, she asked how Shaffer & Associates had gotten her number. Katie allegedly replied, “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.”
Feeling harassed by Shaffer & Associates, the plaintiff's daughter hired a consumer attorney and sued the company for allegedly violating the FDCPA in the following ways:
- Discussing the alleged debt with uninvolved third parties
- Failing to send a debt validation notice
The matter was later dismissed.
Hire an Attorney
The phone numbers for this debt collection law office are:
If you see either number on your caller ID in response to an incoming call, it means that you are being called by Shaffer & Associates. If they discuss your debt with any unauthorized third parties, hire a consumer attorney immediately.
If you file a claim against Shaffer & Associates and win, you could potentially receive $1,000 per FDCPA violation plus attorney fees and court costs. When debt collectors reveal your confidential debt information, the law gives you the means to fight back.
*Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Shaffer & Associates, 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: 4:10-cv-01295-DJS from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division.