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Check Cashing Company Sued After Customer Records Threats of Violence From Debt Collector

September 30, 2009

Thanks to the bad economy, our Buena Park debt collection abuse attorneys have seen a sharp increase in customer complaints about unfair debt collection practices. So perhaps it's not surprising that more and more reports are surfacing about debt collectors stepping over the line from aggressive into illegal. That was the case in a Sept. 29 article from television station WLTX about a Florida lawsuit alleging actual threats of violence from a debt collector for a check cashing company. Jeff Gordon of Jacksonville, Florida sued Jacksonville Check Cashers over its employee's threats to "f--- [him] up" and threats against his wife.

Gordon does not dispute that he bounced a check at the business (a debt he has since paid), but says the reaction from an employee believed to be Horace Swafford Jr. was illegal and disproportionate. According to the article, an employee called "Mickey" left three recorded messages on the Gordons' answering machine. In addition to the obscene threat against Gordon himself, which was repeated, the tape also caught Mickey's promise to find Debra Gordon and another promise that "you're not going to know when I'm coming." Swafford, who goes by the name Mickey, later showed up outside the Gordons' home and wouldn't leave, prompting Debra Gordon to call the police. Both the Gordons' debt collection attorney and a Florida prosecutor the station contacted said the messages violated multiple laws.

The station posted an online video that included the threatening messages:

As Corona collection agency abuse lawyers, we believe this conduct is not only a violation of consumer protection laws, but also a potential violation of criminal laws. Whether the matter is appropriate for prosecution is up to Florida state's attorneys. But regardless of whether there is a criminal case, victims of this kind of severe overreaching by debt collectors may still hold them responsible for their actions with a lawsuit under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or similar laws at the state level. In addition to penalizing debt collectors for their unfair and abusive practices, these lawsuits can also recover the costs the harassment caused, such as the cost of time off work, and reasonable court costs and attorney fees.

At Howard Law LLP, we're proud of our work stopping harassment, abuse and other illegal practices by debt collectors. The FDCPA and state laws set out strict limitations on what debt collectors may do, including restrictions on how often they may call, the language they can use and a strict requirement not to lie. However, collection agencies routinely violate these laws -- and they rarely get punished because too many consumers don't know their rights. Our Carlsbad debt collection harassment attorneys help consumers fight back by filing lawsuits against the debt collectors to stop their illegal behavior and secure compensation for the losses it caused. In addition to actual damages, consumers may claim $1,000 per violation of the law, attorney fees and court costs.

If you believe your rights have been violated by a debt collector and you'd like to learn more about fighting back, you should talk to Howard Law right away. To set up a free consultation on your case and your rights, please contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925.