This evening I had a truly bizarre experience. Once again I found that no matter how high you set the bar on imbecilic criminality, somebody will come along and set a new record. A client called, all upset, because “First State Attorneys,” supposedly a California law firm, was threatening to have her arrested over a payday lender account. She said that they had called her 34 times that day and were threatening to have her “taken downtown for an investigation.” They wanted her to pay them $200 by credit card immediately, or she would be sued for $9,000. They even told her that she should arrange to have her children taken care of when she gets taken in for questioning.
When my client and I called this gang of thieves back, the “head collector” told us that there would be no more calls to my client. However, 10 minutes later, they were calling again. They told my client that they did not believe that I am a lawyer. The only funny part of the whole thing is that they all sounded like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian shopkeeper in the Simpsons, but gave their names as Dexter Brown, Brian Davis, Tom Nelson, Lloyd Davis and Alex Jones.
After a little inquiry, I found out that “First State Attorneys” is neither a law firm nor in California. They are scammers, probably on the Indian subcontinent.
I am astounded at how outrageous these swindlers are. They do not even pretend to follow debt collection law and the threats they make would be laughable if there were not so many consumers who do not know their rights. It is illegal to call debtors at work, or to make incessant calls. Legitimate debt collectors are prohibited from making misrepresentations such as that the consumer may be arrested.
It is possible for a creditor to have a debtor arrested, but only for contempt of court. This can only happen after the debtor ignores a subpoena.
A subpoena is way different from a summons. A subpoena is a command from a judge to appear in court at a certain time on a certain date. Ignoring a subpoena is contempt of court and may result in being arrested and thrown in jail. However, a subpoena for a debtor to appear in court is issued only after there is a judgment against the debtor that has not been satisfied. Then the creditor can ask the judge to order the debtor to come to court.
A summons is issued at the beginning of a civil case. If you ignore a summons, the worst that can happen is that the court will enter a judgment against you.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has many consumer protections. For example, it requires collectors to send consumers a written notice within five days of the initial contact. The consumer must be informed of the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a statement that the consumer has 30 days to contact the creditor in writing to file a dispute or request validation. If they do not give you a written demand, write them off as guttersnipes.
The phone numbers that showed up on caller identification were from the 818 area code: 818 584 7330, 818 396 9009, and 818 483 0162. The calls are coming from overseas, so the caller identification registers are false. I was able to call these extortionists back on 415 670 9149, but that will probably only last a day. If you do an Internet search for these numbers or the numbers showing up on your phone you will find a host of complaints about harassing phone calls and vicious threats by these bogus collection agents.
If you get bogus calls from a collection agency about debts you do not owe, do not get upset. They cannot harm you unless you give them a credit card number to try to pay them off. This is a poorly-executed attempt at extortion. They may call incessantly for a day or so, but eventually they will get tired of calling and leave you alone.
You could also mess with them if you have time on your hands. Give them a fake credit card number and keep changing a digit here or there when they read it back to you: “I didn’t say 5479, I said 5497; no, not 5497, 5947; I’m so sorry, the numbers on these cards are so small and I can’t afford to get new glasses; hold on while I go look for a magnifying glass . . . [minutes pass] . . . I’m still looking for that magnifying glass.”
You might try seducing them into phone sex. They probably are in a criminal enterprise that punishes time-wasting with flogging or loss of a finger. With a little luck, you might hear your caller getting the beating you would like to give him.
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com ©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney