Watch out for bogus debt collection calls
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Feb 24, 2008
Dear Action Line: I have received at least three phone calls
in the past three weeks from out-of-state law firm Bennett & DeLoney showing up on Caller ID as
(800) 815-1177. It is a recorded
message asking me to call concerning "an important matter"
and gives a "reference number."
If this is really an important matter, they would call directly to talk
to me. I don't know why I am getting these calls. Is it legit or are
they trying to sell me something?
-- L.D.Y., Broken Arrow.
Bennett & DeLoney: This is a
collection agency that buys up
old debts and "insufficient funds"
(bounded check) cases written
off by banks. It makes its living
bugging people on the phone,
threatening them with legal action unless they pay up. Check
out the complaints on Bennett &
DeLoney on the pro-consumer
Web site RipoffReport.com?needs redirect
from people claiming the firm
made multiple calls based on erroneous name or account information. Also see the report on
them in the Bud Hibbs Web site
Debt proof required: Some complainants say the firm assesses
excessive bounced-check fees on
old checks worth small amounts.
The federal Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act requires collection
agencies to verify they are pursu
ing the right person and that the
debt is legally owed. It is the consumer's right, under the act, to
demand proof that the debt is still
owed and requires collectors,
once they receive a letter disputing a debt's legality, to cease further contact until they can verify
the debt is still owed. Once verification is received, the debtor can
dispute its legality.
Statute of limitations: Few people realize debts can expire.
Checking the state's statute of
limitations on enforcing a debt,
for the state in which the debt
was owed, can save a lot of time,
money in expired debt and aggravation. The statute of limitations
on contracted consumer debt in
Oklahoma is five years (Title 12,
Section 95-A-1). For information
on the statute of limitations in other states, see www.tulsaworld.com/StatuteLimitations. But
if you let the collectors get the
best of you on the phone and
agree to enter a contract to repay
an Oklahoma debt older than five
years, the act no longer protects
you and you owe the old debt
based on the new contract.
Write them off: If you know the
bad-debt information is not current and the collector refuses to
accept your explanation and
keeps calling, you have the right
to demand he cease and desist.
From the time he receives your
cease-and-desist letter, sent "certified mail, return receipt requested," he must comply with your
demand. Write the collector, expressly referencing the debt and
containing the following: "Please
cease all further communication
with me concerning this debt or
any other matter." Check the consumer-info Web site www.tulsaworld.com/FairDebtCollection for
more information on this. Send
your letter to Bennett, DeLoney
& Noyes PC, 1265 E. Fort Union
Blvd., Suite 150, Salt Lake City,
Utah 84047. Also fax it to (801)
963-9955 and save the "transmission report" as proof the letter
was received and e-mail it to
Dear Action Line: You once
published a sample letter for telling debt collectors to buzz off. I
cut it out but safe-kept it too well.
Please run it again. -- Name
"Regarding your (letter/phone
call) of (date}, (copy enclosed) I
do not owe what you say I owe. In
accordance with the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, Section
809(b), regarding my right to no
tify you in writing within 30 days
that I dispute this supposed debt,
I am disputing it and requesting
the name and address of the original creditor.
"I demand you cease your
debt-collection attempts until you
provide verification of the debt
and a copy of any judgment to
that effect. I demand you mail this
to me at the address provided.
Until validated, you are hereby informed your debt information is
inaccurate. If you reported this to
credit-reporting agencies, immediately inform them of my refutation. Reporting information you
know to be inaccurate, or failing
to report information correctly, violates the Fair Credit Reporting
"I am aware of my rights under
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act -- that I have the right to
sue you in state or federal court
within one year of your violation
of these laws and am prepared to
prove same through meticulous
records of all oral and written
contact by you or your assignees.
I will not hesitate to report such
violations to Oklahoma Attorney
General Drew Edmondson, the
Federal Trade Commission and
the Better Business Bureau."
Submit Action Line questions to
699-8888. Action Line pursues consumer
complaints submitted with photocopies of
documentation to Tulsa World Action Line,
P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.