Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT) barraged Allen Jones, of Dallas, with a series of harassing and racially charged phone calls. The company's behavior clearly was over the top, but it raises this curious question: Which is worse, (1) to have a debt collector call you vile names; or (2) to have a debt collector lie to you--about who they represent, what they legally can do to collect the alleged debt, and other relevant matters?
Both are violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), and it's disgusting to be the recipient of either. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have had debt collectors hurl insults and abusive language in our direction. But we are particularly familiar with blatant falsehoods, the kind noted in No. 2 above.
The ACT case is a brazen example of just how depraved debt collectors can be. Here is a sampling of a few cheery greetings the company's representatives left for Allen Jones:
"This is your motherf------ wake-up call you little lazy a-- b----," a collector said in one early-morning message obtained by Dallas/Fort Worth's WFAA-TV. "Get your motherf------ n----r ass up and go pick some motherf------ cotton fields."
Unfortunately for the debt collectors, Jones saved the messages as evidence. And it turns out a jury wasn't amused. Here is a news report from Dallas:
Jones' attorney said, "If we did not have tapes, no one would ever have believed that this happened."
Well, we have tapes, too--of representatives from Birmingham-based Ingram & Associates, working on behalf of Pennsylvania-based NCO to collect an alleged debt to American Express.
Our tapes do not contain the kind of vulgarities that Jones experienced. But they do include plenty of abusive language and, more importantly to us, out and out lies. In fact, we suspect the kind of falsehoods that were used against us are used against alleged debtors all over the country--probably because they work.
What kind of underhanded tactics have we experienced from debt collectors? You will be learning, and hearing, much more shortly.
Meanwhile, we are delighted that Allen Jones is holding at least one debt collector accountable. We have already shown on this blog that the actions of unethical debt collectors take a high toll on society. If more juries hand down verdicts like the one in Texas, perhaps debt collectors will think twice before resorting to falsehoods, deceit, and abuse.
You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger." -Lee Atwater
# ^ Lamis, Alexander P. et al. (1990) The Two Party South. Oxford University Press.
# ^ Herbert, Frank (October 6, 2005) "Impossible, Ridiculous, Repugnant." New York Times.
# ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater
Very interesting quote from Lee Atwater. His spirit lives on. Thanks for sharing, Rob.
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