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Bankruptcy Law Blog

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Phantom Debt Fuels Harassment

If someone was incessantly calling your house, harassing you about debt, and even threatening to rape one of your family members, you’d want to do something about it. Right? Andrew Therrien sure did. He was so upset with debt collectors harassing him, that he went on a years-long quest to clear his name and bust scammers in the debt collection industry.

Therrien’s story is a wild one. Out of the blue he and his wife start getting nasty phone calls from debt collectors claiming he owes money on a payday loan. Therrien knows the calls are bogus because he hasn’t taken out a payday loan in years, and he definitely paid off the one he did take out. So, he puts is sales background to use and starts talking to the folks that call him, telling them “You’ll never get your money back. You might as well get blood out of it.”

He knows the collectors calling him paid someone for a debt call sheet, and it is obviously filled with fake information, so he bets that they will flip on the person that sold them the bad info in order to get a bit of revenge. And he’s right. He works his way up the chain of shady debt dealers one by one, gathering more and more info from each person he talks with. And learning more and more about what an awful industry debt collection is.

He learns that, “Scammers often sell the same portfolios of debt, called ‘paper,’ to several collection agencies at once, so a legitimate IOU gains illegitimate clones. Some inflate balances, a practice known as ‘overbiffing.’ Others create ‘redo’ lists—people who’ve settled their debt, but will be harassed again anyway. These rosters are actually more valuable, because the targets have proved willing to part with money over the phone. And then there are those who invent debts out of whole cloth.”

Therrien thinks that his name was added to a fake list by a debt kingpin named Joel Tucker who got desperate when he ran out of cash. Therrien took his evidence to the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission, and they ended up winning a civil lawsuit against Tucker. Therrien is pleased, but he’s still not satisfied because he’s still getting bogus collection calls.

Therrien’s situation is crazy not because he is being haunted by phantom debt, but because he went to such extreme lengths to stop the harassment. Thousands of other people across the country are dealing with the same crap, but few have the time or desire to fight back so aggressively.

If debt collectors are harassing you, and you want to do something about it, you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372). You can also contact the Alabama Attorney General.

If the calls you are getting are about legitimate debts you owe, you might also want to talk to a bankruptcy attorney. Filing for bankruptcy puts a pause on collections, and can give you an opportunity to get your financial life back on track.


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Padgett and Robertson assist clients with Bankruptcy, Personal Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and The New Bankruptcy Law in Mobile, Alabama and throughout southern Alabama. Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”



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Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”