Debt Collector Verbally Abuses Disabled Elder

P. writes:

I worked for Citibank for 29 years, I became disabled and was put on LTD [long term disability]. …MetLife cancelled my coverage, I applied for my pension and am being jerked around by CitiGroup. Meanwhile, my Citicard is delinquent. The collector, whom I speak to every 4 days has become mocking. I told her I will pay when they begin paying me. She said I was a mean, old disabled person. I was not a man because I am not paying, she know about my disabilities and said that since my legs don’t work, maybe my ears don’t work also.

She then said, I’ll call you in 4 days, good luck with trying to walk and hung up.

This sweetheart is Ashley Brown.

Check out this site so you know your rights. You may also want to check out these posts of ours.

A collector is not allowed to keep calling you simply to collect. If you tell themwrite them a letter to tell them to stop calling you, and they don’t, you can sue. Let Ashley know this is your intention. Debt collectors like to prey on those unaware of the Fair Debt Collections Practice act. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. Ben, have you been smoking? You think they’ll stop calling if you simply tell them you know you can sue?

    They know just as well as you and I that you won’t win unless you have evidence. You need to either record the conversation (possibly illegal depending on where they’re calling from, and where you are) or send them a certified letter informing them of your rights. Then you’ll have proof that they were informed.

  2. cacic says:

    I would record it and make sure you put it up on YouTube. I’d take my chances with being sued by Citibank for illegal recording.

  3. buredemon says:

    A collector is not allowed to keep calling you simply to collect. If you tell them to stop calling you, and they don’t, you can sue them.

    I’ll defer to any actual attorneys on this site, but if this is a reference to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Act, you might reconsider the statement. The act’s definitions limit the restrictions to “debt colletors” which are defined in such a way as to exclude the orignial creditor. Presumably Citibank is the originator of the debt and thus would be excluded from the “harassment” portion of the FDCPA. You may, however have state law protections depending on where you live. [AS ALWAYS--I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY AND THIS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE]

    See: 15 USC 1692a(6); http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/commentary.htm#803

  4. Keter says:

    This person needs to make a recording the abuse and go talk to their state’s Attorney General about both the harassment and the difficulty getting the pension.

    And Consumerist needs to fix this article’s tag ‘Asley-Brown’ to fix the spelling. ;o)

  5. bokononist says:

    I’d actually not tell them to stop calling. Get them to make threats–like that they’ll take away your house, or stalk you. Stay strong. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN, and if it’s legal in your state, RECORD THE PHONE CALLS. Then find a good attorney. If you’re in Pennsylvania, I can recommend a good one. If not, check out http://www.naca.net.

    I’m very familiar with a case settled in the low 5-figures for much less harassment than this. The collection agencies are terrified of having these sleazy practices exposed.

  6. acambras says:

    And Consumerist needs to fix this article’s tag ‘Asley-Brown’ to fix the spelling. ;o)

    Yep — change it to ASSLEY.

  7. jgkelley says:

    From the FTC: (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.htm)

    Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
    You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop.

    What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?
    Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.

    For example, debt collectors may not:

    * use threats of violence or harm;
    * publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
    * use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.


    The collector has done none of these things, and I guarantee telling them verbally to stop calling won’t work, while sending a letter should. I’ve worked with a first party collection office – they constantly made rude comments like this, and very rarely if ever even received BBB complaints. First party collectors have few laws to follow regarding their conduct. If this is a third party collector, they should probably be nicer – but even that is somewhat up in the air.

  8. georget99 says:

    jekelley. The collector has done none of those things? Sounds like harassment and repeatedly using the telephone to annoy someone to me.

  9. royal72 says:

    isn’t that ironic, i just received 3 phone calls last night and 2 this morning from those [bleeps]. to make a long story short, because of an error that was not my fault and actually do to their website my payment for last month was late. once i realized i called immediately and worked it out with a very nice customer service rep that i would go ahead and send a larger payment by my next due date. she even waived the late fees and everything.

    i’ve talked to two people in their “collections” dept. (more like harassment dept.) and they even see the notes in my account about what’s going on and they still [bleeping] call.

  10. LRM216 says:

    Ashley Brown needs to be hung upside down and left to dangle. What a truly wonderful specimen of the human race she must be. I don’t care if that is her job or not, she is scum. Hope there really is such a thing as karma!

  11. Greeper says:

    I’m a lawyer for a big company and we get claims like this all the time; then we pull the tapes and the conversations weren’t anything like what the person claims. (My calls have nothing to do with debt collection but are between the company and ex-employees with information the employee doesn’t like).

    I think it’s a little irresponsible to post stories like this, because they make the Company look like assholes with very slim evidence. It’s like the daily news story reporting how someone is suing a company for discrimination, when the case has no basis in fact or law and gets dismissed on summary judgment. Anyone can claim anything, that doesn’t make it true.

    If it happened, that’s awful, but with the ease of recording things these days, I find it highly unlikely anyone would be that brazen and rude.

  12. PandemicSoul says:

    Since I can’t seem to figure out how to register to comment, here are some thoughts on the post title “Debt Collector Verbally Abuses Disabled Elder”:

    Agree w/buredemon and jgkelley. I was an in-house debt collector for an auto finance company, and just telling us to stop calling doesn’t do the trick. We have a right to collect the debt you owe us. However, if you write a letter asking us not to call you anymore, we have to honor your request. We will, however, continue to send you letters and mail, and we WILL continue to collect on the debt.

    Furthermore, I would NOT recommend that you tell them to stop calling. I remember a few specific cases in which people had told us, “back in the day” to stop calling them, via a letter, and so we did. But, say, two or three years down the line, when they’re 90+ days past due and we went to pick up their car, they would throw a huge fit and say we never contacted them. If nothing else, having someone call you at least keeps you in the loop about what’s going on with your account.

    My suggestion is to ask to speak to the girl’s supervisor, IMMEDIATELY when she starts mouthing off like that. Tell the supervisor exactly what was said, and if the supervisor doesn’t do something, then just start going up the chain. One of the most frustrating things for a low-level collector is when the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I know in my case, specifically, I was assigned a group of accounts that I worked on a daily basis. Inevitably, however, there were accounts who either got so far past due that they were handed to a supervisor, or they started complaining and asking to speak to supervisors whenever I called them, or they called in. In those cases, often the supervisor would make completely bogus payment arrangements that I would never have agreed to, just to get the person off the phone. It pissed me off, but the person behind in their payments got their way :)

    Remember: your debt is worth more to the company when you actually pay it. They don’t want to have to go after you in other ways. If they CAN resolve it via regular collection practices, it’s more profitable to them. SO, complain, complain, complain! Ask to talk to everyone’s supervisor until you’re talking to a VP. Don’t shut up until they do what you say. Don’t take NO for an answer.

  13. PandemicSoul says:

    Agree w/buredemon and jgkelley. I was an in-house debt collector for an auto finance company, and just telling us to stop calling doesn’t do the trick. We have a right to collect the debt you owe us. However, if you write a letter asking us not to call you anymore, we have to honor your request. We will, however, continue to send you letters and mail, and we WILL continue to collect on the debt.

    Furthermore, I would NOT recommend that you tell them to stop calling. I remember a few specific cases in which people had told us, “back in the day” to stop calling them, via a letter, and so we did. But, say, two or three years down the line, when they’re 90+ days past due and we went to pick up their car, they would throw a huge fit and say we never contacted them. If nothing else, having someone call you at least keeps you in the loop about what’s going on with your account.

    My suggestion is to ask to speak to the girl’s supervisor, IMMEDIATELY when she starts mouthing off like that. Tell the supervisor exactly what was said, and if the supervisor doesn’t do something, then just start going up the chain. One of the most frustrating things for a low-level collector is when the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I know in my case, specifically, I was assigned a group of accounts that I worked on a daily basis. Inevitably, however, there were accounts who either got so far past due that they were handed to a supervisor, or they started complaining and asking to speak to supervisors whenever I called them, or they called in. In those cases, often the supervisor would make completely bogus payment arrangements that I would never have agreed to, just to get the person off the phone. It pissed me off, but the person behind in their payments got their way :)

    Remember: your debt is worth more to the company when you actually pay it. They don’t want to have to go after you in other ways. If they CAN resolve it via regular collection practices, it’s more profitable to them. SO, complain, complain, complain! Ask to talk to everyone’s supervisor until you’re talking to a VP. Don’t shut up until they do what you say. Don’t take NO for an answer.

  14. Sam Glover says:

    I sue abusive debt collectors for a living. Here is my comment:

    Take careful notes (date, time, collector, what was said, length of call, etc.), record if you can, find a consumer lawyer (www.naca.net is a good place to start), and sue.

    Once they cross the line into abuse, it isn’t about the debt, it is about your right to be treated like a human being.

  15. Sam Glover says:

    As an addendum to my previous comment, you are entitled to $1,000 plus actual damages (including emotional distress), costs, and attorney fees (i.e. you shouldn’t have to pay your attorney unless you win).

    Don’t make threats, just get as much evidence as you can and enforce your rights in court.

  16. spanky says:

    I was an in-house debt collector for an auto finance company, and just telling us to stop calling doesn’t do the trick. We have a right to collect the debt you owe us. However, if you write a letter asking us not to call you anymore, we have to honor your request.

    As I understand it, you are legally required to stop calling if you’re told to. The only reason that sending a written notice is recommended is that debt collectors are dishonest and unscrupulous and will ignore verbal requests, as you’ve just admitted to here.

  17. kaila says:

    test.

  18. Stepehn Colbert says:

    Electoral College Dropout

    Its called a “certified letter”. There’s your proof. look it up.

  19. bokononist says:

    Greeper,

    It happens. Often. See the cases the PA Attorney General has settled. See any number of reports documenting abuse by debt collectors.

    I know of 3 companies used by Citicorp for their credit cards that are abusive and violate the law.

  20. ddwibb says:

    Citibank is terrible. They sued me after I sent them a letter about my old unpaid account. I wanted to make payments, and they wanted a pound of flesh.

  21. TinaT says:

    Why do people even answer the phone to these creeps? Doesn’t everyone have caller ID now?

  22. jackdangers says:

    I’ve had a little experience being on the receiving end of debt-collection calls, and can tell you all at least one thing: Verbally telling the collector to not call you will not work, but writing to them will. Send a letter via certified mail (so you can prove you sent them a letter) and you will stop getting calls.

    You want to be a little careful when you are doing this, though. Be sure that you want no further contact with the debt collection agency. Some creditors, once a debt is in collection, will not work with the debtor since the debt has been sold and they’ve written it off. If you ever want to get back in contact with the owner of your debt, its a hassle if you’ve sent them a letter saying “Don’t contact me!”.

    As always, IANAL…but this advice is from some personal experience. Sending a letter is helpful especially if you are in a situation where these calls will be fruitless because you simply HAVE NO MONEY. I know the feeling…

  23. kaycee says:

    TinaT,

    No, not everyone has Caller ID. It costs $12/month in my area (plus whatever the fee is to get it started – $30, I think), and I would much rather spend $12 a month on something else.

    I don’t have bill collectors after me, though, nor do I have annoying relatives who won’t leave me alone. I’ve registered our phone number on the federal and state do-not-call lists, so I don’t get solicitations. The rare calls I get that I don’t want (“surveys”, political calls, etc), I can easily tell them I’m not interested.

    P.S. I don’t have cable TV, either, because I don’t want to spend money on TV or be tempted to waste time watching more than I do. So I guess I’m really out of step compared to the majority.

  24. thrillhouse says:

    A collector is not allowed to keep calling you simply to collect.

    Yes, they can. The harassment portion of the FDCPA is quite subjective, and as others noted, requires proof.

    If you write them a letter to tell them to stop calling you, and they don’t, you can sue.

    And if you send them a C&D letter (I think thats what you are getting at), then you will almost imeadiately be sued. And when it goes to court, if you owe the debt legitimately, then you will lose.

    Let Ashley know this is your intention. Debt collectors like to prey on those unaware of the Fair Debt Collections Practice act. – BEN POPKEN

    I’m sure that “Ashley Brown” is quaking in her boots. What do you suppose her “name” is today? Tomorrow? Ashley White? Ashley Black?

    Seriously, P. Agree to take his/her call once every 2 weeks, and do just that. If you owe the money, and it sounds like you do, then begin to make payments or offer a lump sum as payment-in-full. Get everything in writing and do just as you tell them – do not take their abusive calls, pay what you agree to, and get these sum out of your life. So long as you are paying/communicating they will not sue you.

    No, what they are doing is not right (nice how they treat their own, eh?), but that does not cancel out the debt.

  25. PandemicSoul says:

    As I understand it, you are legally required to stop calling if you’re told to. The only reason that sending a written notice is recommended is that debt collectors are dishonest and unscrupulous and will ignore verbal requests, as you’ve just admitted to here.

    I’m not sure where the malfunction is here, but the law states that written requests are required. Please read the post above…

    Now, let’s say we’re on the phone and you tell me not to call back, and then hang up. I CAN NOT call you back immediately, or even that same day. The law states that you can’t “harass” someone, and the company I worked for took that to mean no more than one call where I SPEAK WITH YOU a day. (I can call 10x a day if I don’t speak with you…) There are other provisions that are more specific, i.e.- no calls before 8am, or after 9pm, etc.

    As far as debt collectors being dishonest or unscrupulous, all I have to say to that is: look at who we’re dealing with. 90% of my customers (I was a 30 days past due and over collector, meaning everyone I talked to was more than 30 days past due on their bill) were people who I had seen before in my queue, meaning they were habitually late on their bill. About 10% were the “hard luck” cases who really were just in over their head because they lost their job or whatever. The rest of them were people who couldn’t afford what they had, and were taking us for everything they could. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Well, you’re not going to pick up the car for another 50 days, so why in the hell should I pay?” Point being: most people who work as debt collectors are not evil, they are not dishonest, and they are not “unscrupulous.” They are people who deal with the dregs of society every day, and they are people who are trying to make a living, just like you. I know it’s easy to feel bad for the guy who’s down on his luck, but most people aren’t like that. MOST people who are dealing with debt collection companies are people who didn’t manage their money properly, and are now trying to bilk the “company” out of money, because they feel that the “company” can afford it. I don’t have much sympathy. If we follow the law, then that’s what’s required of us. Don’t like it? Talk to your congressman. Or, you could go the quick and easy route to stop talking to debt collectors: pay your bills.

  26. govkid201 says:

    @TinaT: no