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Texas Man Wins $1.5 Million from Debt Collector That Used Obscenities and Racial Slurs

June 15, 2010

Our Corona debt collection harassment lawyers wrote recently about a New Mexico man who is suing a debt collector for alleged threats to blow up his house. On the heels of that story came a June 1 article from ABC News about another egregious violation of the law and basic decency by a debt collector. Allen Jones of Lewisville, Texas sued Advanced Call Center Technologies for making multiple collections calls to him that used profanity, at least one racial slur and racially charged language. The debt in question was under $200, Jones said. After a trial in state court, a jury found that ACT had violated a state fair debt collections law and awarded Jones $1.5 million in damages. A lawyer for ACT said this was not the standard practice and that the two employees involved no longer work at the company.

Jones has eight of the calls recorded to voice mail. In them, the caller uses the "n-word" and several types of profanity. ABC News plays the voice mails in its video report:

One of his attorneys said it was the worse case he'd ever seen and that jurors might not have believed it if it hadn't been recorded. In addition to the profanity and racial language, the messages allegedly included a sexual comment about Jones's wife. The calls came as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m., both of which are outside the times federal law allows debt collection calls to be made. Jones said he had actually paid the credit card debt ACT was calling about and said so to the callers, but this didn't stop the harassment. In addition to the $1.5 million, the jury awarded him $50,000 for mental anguish and $143,000 in attorney fees.

As Placentia debt collection abuse attorneys, we see plenty of stories about abusive debt collection tactics. But, as the attorney for Jones said, the alleged actions in this story go beyond even the normal abuses and deceptive tactics used by collection agencies. Jones sued under a Texas state consumer protection law, but all of the alleged actions described in the article violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well. That law forbids calls that use abusive or profane language; threats; and calls outside of the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the debtor's time zone. It also forbids communicating after a request for validation of the debt, which Jones may or may not have requested. Failure to follow the FDCPA makes debt collectors like ACT vulnerable to a federal lawsuit, in which victims can win up to $1,000 plus attorney fees. Jones won a great deal more in state court, suggesting that the jury in that case sought to punish ACT and set an example for other collection agencies using illegal tactics.

Howard Law PC represents people who are the victims of abusive, harassing, deceptive or otherwise illegal debt collection attempts. Unfortunately, while stories this extreme are unusual, abusive tactics are standard for many debt collectors. Debt collectors know that shaming and harassment work, so they pile on the insults, threats, constant calls and other illegal conduct. They also routinely ignore requests for validation, even ones made properly under the FDCPA. If you are a victim of these types of tactics, our San Clemente unfair debt collection attorneys can help. You can turn the tables on a debt collector that breaks the law by filing a lawsuit under the FDCPA or the California state law, the Rosenthal FDCPA, and winning financial damages to compensate you for their behavior, as well as attorney fees and any financial or personal loses the conduct caused.

If you've been harassed by a debt collector and you'd like to fight back, you should call Howard Law right away. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, contact us online or call 1-800-872-5925 today.