There are lots of good ways to escalate your complaints. Going to the store, dousing yourself with lighter fluid and setting yourself on fire is not one of them. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what one Newark, NJ man did after becoming frustrated with the amount of late payment notices and collection calls he was receiving from Rent-A-Center.
“He basically pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid, poured it all over his body, pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit himself on fire,” Bloomfield Police Capt. Chris Goul said.
The man, 62-year-old Emilio Saladriagas, entered the Bloomfield Rent-A-Center location Tuesday and asked to speak to a supervisor about the late payment notices and collection calls, says the Star-Ledger. When a manager was not available, he pulled out the lighter fluid.
Employees doused him with water and he is now in stable condition at the burn unit of a local hospital. He has not been charged with a crime because he did not make “overt or criminal” actions to harm anyone but himself, according to police. The employees are receiving counseling.
“We don’t know if he had mental health issues or what sparked it,” [police] said. “Employees said he’d always been a nice man.”
If you’re in debt and having a hard time dealing with the collection calls and notices, there’s help available. The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (PDF). If you’re being harassed, you can sent a letter to the debt collector demanding that they stop contacting you. They do not have the right to keep contacting you simply to try to get you to pay. You can also do a little research and locate some free or low cost legal help in your area. If you have a lawyer, the debt collectors are required to contact the attorney instead of you. If the debt collectors don’t follow these rules, you can sue them! Not being able to pay your bills can be a humiliating experience, but don’t give up.
Newark man sets himself on fire [Star-Ledger] (Thanks, Andrew!)