Beware of Collection Scams - Especially After Bankruptcy!
A former bankruptcy client called the other day - a single mom, struggling to work and raise her young kids. She sounded scared, but she told a story I've heard so many times before. She'd just hung up with a bill collector, who told her that she owed money on a loan from 2010, and that if she didn't immediately pay, she would be arrested later that day. Fortunately, my client remembered me telling her that she should not pay any debt that was owed prior to the date she filed her Chapter 7 case. Instead of giving the guy her debit card number, she wrote down his name and number, and called me.
There is a whole lot wrong with this phone call: 1) a creditor cannot threaten to have you arrested if you don't pay a debt, and in fact, it's illegal if they do; 2) a creditor can't refuse to validate a debt, as this one did; 3) a creditor cannot mislead you in any way; 4) even if this debt was valid, it was time-barred (so it was improper for the caller to threaten to sue my client, when he should have known he couldn't); 5) my client received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge in 2015, so even if the debt was originally valid, it was a violation of the bankruptcy discharge injunction to attempt to collect it now. The list goes on.
At any rate, I told my client to take a deep breath, and to trust me that this was a scam. I implored her not to worry, and not to pay this company anything! To further ease her mind, I called the number back, and to my surprise, someone answered the phone. However, when I identified myself as an attorney and simply asked for the agency's mailing address, the representative ("Diane Lane?") said that she wasn't authorized to release that information, and hung up on me!
Reputable collection agencies do not act this way. Collection agencies that do act this way are subject to sanctions, and can be held liable for your attorney fees if you challenge them on their illegal behavior. If you receive a call like this, make careful notes on the details of the call - date, time, number, name given, and exactly what the caller said. Then, call us to discuss what you can do about this inappropriate and unlawful creditor behavior.
On behalf of this client, we're looking for you, Pittman, White & Associates, at (515) 309-2177. If you actually exist, and we manage to find you, we'll be addressing the way you harassed our client!