Allen Jones, from Lewisville, Texas, won a large verdict earlier this month against a collections agency that violated Texas debt collection laws. Jones, 26, claims he owed an $81 credit card debt, which was actually paid off at the time he began receiving harassing calls from Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT).
Jones, who is black, claims ACT employees repeatedly used the n-word, the f-word, and made racially insensitive comments. In a voicemail, one of the debt collectors recommended that Jones “go pick some ________ cotton fields.” One of the messages also included a sexual comment about Jones’s wife. The calls would occur as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. Jones was awarded $50,000 for mental anguish, $143,000 for attorney’s fees and $1.5 million in additional damages.
In addition to the Jones case, another recent debt collection case made headlines – a New Mexico man, Al Burrows, sued Verizon Wireless. He claims that he owed $308 to Verizon and worked out a payment plan over 90 days. After the plan had been arranged, a debt collections firm hired by Verizon called and threatened to “blow your _______ house up”. Burrows claimed that the call frightened him so badly that he changed his locks, had his brother stay with his family, and eventually moved to another state.
Burrows sued Verizon, and the lawsuit is pending. If the lawsuit goes forward, Verizon will be forced to defend itself against third-party debt collectors it hires.
In 2009, the FTC received over 88,000 complaints about third-party debt collectors, more than about any other industry.