I have been dealing with employees of this company for just a little while but it is very distressing because they keep calling not only me but my elderly mother about something my ex-husband owes or has done, but I'm not sure which it is. I have been divorced from this man for over 20 years, we had no children, and he owes me thousands of dollars. No need to bore everyone with the details but the point is that he defrauded me during our brief marriage. I had to repay thousands of dollars of his debt and was left with only a worthless contractual promise from him to repay me. It was worthless because he disappeared after our divorce became final and I have not had any contact with him. Heck, if I knew where he was I would go after him myself to get the money he owes me.
The first time they called I was so surprised that someone was calling me asking about my ex-husband not only because we divorced over 20 years ago but because I had also relocated to a new state. The person refused to answer any of my questions including the one that I was most perplexed about which was how they got my name and phone number. But since I never wanted to hear from them again I gave them the info on our divorce and explained how this horrible man had defrauded me (which is why I divorced him) and that he still owed me a lot of money. I assured this person I had no contact with this con man and since he owed me so much money he would not be calling me. This person was gruff and uncooperative (about giving me any answers as to why they were calling me, why they were looking for the ex, etc.) but after hearing the facts she did finally apologize for bothering me and told me that she would update the records. I thought the matter was finished, but no such luck. A week or so went by and a man from this company called my mother (who is 79 years old) asking for my ex-husband. Fortunately I had told her about the call I had received so she wasn't as surprised as I had been. She asked this person the same sort of questions I had asked and did not get too many answers but she still reiterated the information about my divorce, etc. He said he would update the files. My mother then jokingly asked the person to let her know if they did find him [my ex] because he owed me thousands of dollars and the man hung up on her. As distressing as it was to get these calls and unearth a very stressful and unhappy time in my life I hoped that this would finally put the matter to rest, but it did not.
A couple of weeks go by and I get another call from this company about the ex-husband. I demanded answers to my questions about what was going on and how they got my name and phone number. This person told me that all she knew was that I was listed in her file as a member of his family. I then told her the complete story (just as the previous employees of this company had been told) and demanded that she remove me and my mother from her list and to never call us again. She told me that she would update the records and hung up. Then about a week or so later there was a voice mail message on my answering machine demanding that [name of my ex-husband] call the company immediately, etc. I ignored the call. A couple of days later I received another call from this company. Now I am getting really upset. I told the person about the previous calls, the promises made by other employees of this company to update the records so that no more calls would be made to me and my mother, and again demanded to know how they got my name and number and why they kept calling me. This person tells me that he [the ex] had some sort of banking issue and that the person got my name and phone number because he [the ex] had listed me as a reference. Well, you can imagine given what he had done to me during our brief marriage in the 1980s that this info really freaked me out.
I again reiterated the facts and this time DEMANDED that they cease calling immediately. Again, I was promised that the records would be updated and the calls would stop. Again, not true. Today my mother was called. Bless her heart she was really forceful about them explaining what was going on. This person said that they had our names because they do a background search to find all people that had connections to him and that he [the ex] was in big trouble with Citibank and that it rose to the level of being a criminal matter. My mother told her about the other calls, retold her the facts and again told her to stop calling us because given the history with this con man their calls (and misinformation) was causing great distress to me and that we had NO information about him or his whereabouts. This person again said that the records would be updated and the calls would stop. My Mom then asked this person why the records had not already been updated and why were they continuing to harass us. The person hung up on her.
The employees of this company have lied to me about how they got our names and phone numbers. Their promises of updating the records so the calls would stop were also lies. Although we finally got some information about what was going on the information that was provided was very vague and given the other lies they have already told I guess I will never know for sure whether they are being truthful.
It is not my debt (or whatever the banking issue he has with Citibank) yet me and my mother are the ones getting these calls. How many times do I have to tell them the same facts? How many times do I have to tell them I have not had any contact with this man for over 20 years? This is a very upsetting and frustrating situation.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- A collection agency based in Philadelphia and its owner have agreed to pay a $2.25 million civil penalty to settle an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over a laundry list of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violations and other unfair business practices.
The FTC announced the settlement Friday. The government agency noted that it is the largest civil penalty the FTC has received for a debt collection case.
Academy Collection Service, Inc. and owner Keith Dickstein agreed to the penalty to settle charges that the company and its collectors misled, threatened, and harassed consumers; disclosed their debts to third parties; and deposited postdated checks early, in violation of federal law. Dickstein was cited for not stopping the violations.
The FTC said in a statement that more than 1,000 complaints were filed against Academy with the FTC, various state attorneys general, the Nevada and Pennsylvania Better Business Bureaus, and the company itself, prompting an investigation. During the investigation, the FTC determined that Academy often ignored consumer complaints.
“These defendants are responsible for their debt collectors' abusive practices,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “They ignored people's complaints and rewarded the collectors who broke the law. This is not a business model that the FTC tolerates.”
Two other Academy officers, Edward L. Hurt III and Albert S. Bastian, were also named in the complaint, but did not participate in the settlement.
According to the FTC, Bastian and Hurt led Academy's Las Vegas collection operation. Leonard Gordon, director of the FTC's Northeast Regional Office – the office that filed the complaint – told insideARM that the FTC “was not able to reach a settlement with Bastian and Hurt.” The suits against the men are ongoing.
“The Las Vegas office was clearly the nexus for a lot of the [violating] activity,” said Gordon. “And these two men ran that office.”
In addition to the monetary penalty, Academy agreed to alter many of its business practices and refrain from certain activities such as misrepresenting debts to consumers, improperly communicating with third parties about a debt; using false, deceptive, or misleading representations in debt collection efforts; communicating with a consumer at any unusual time or place, including the workplace; or harassing, oppressing, or abusing any person in connection with debt collection.
Gordon noted that Academy “appeared to be making steps to correct their business practices.”
Calls to Academy were not returned.
by Patrick Lunsford
November 24, 2008
COLORADO -- I was called on May 26 8 am. by
Bob Travis and given a phone number to call and his extension he said this was according to some federal law. He said he had sent a letter to my home and did not receive a reply and I had to call him back. I called the 1800 number and it was Academy Services not knowing anything about this Bob Travis or who this co was I asked what kind of service do you do and I was hung up on. My phone number is unlisted. How did he get my phone number? He did not say he was a bill collector or the name of the co. I am not about to give any information on my business to anyone I do not know. I did not get a letter from him. I have not been told any of my accounts have been turned over to a collection agency. I left a message on my message machine when I went out that if this was Bob Travis calling back That my number is unlisted, how did he give the number. the agency hung up on me when I wanted to know what they do and not to call me again. there are laws to protect people against harassment of bill collectors. I am on welfare. My money is ungarnishable. I am judgment proof The collectors are to do all contact by mail not by phone. I reported this to Attorney General advocacy office consumers affairs in Denver . And I reported this to my lawyer. I am handicapped and elderly. I will not pay a cent to this agency or talk to this bill collector. I do not work. this is a horrible company with many complaints against them.. I will have a radio station host help me if necessary and give this company the publicity they deserve.