Commercial Recovery Systems (“CRS”) violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) by threatening to sue consumers, obtain liens, judgments, or garnish wages without any intention of doing so according to consumers who filed FDCPA lawsuits. Consumers also alleged that CRS disclosed their alleged debts to other people including relatives, employers, and even landlords. Several consumers alleged that CRS’ representatives harassed, abused, belittled and even cursed at them.
Although the factual allegations in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuits described in this article are just that — alleged facts which never were proven in court — the consumers allege violations of the FDCPA which, in my personal opinion, are unusually severe.
The FDCPA lawsuits filed by many consumers illustrate consumer’s rights and the limits of protection under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
An Orlando, Florida consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems falsely threatened to get a “judgment” against him. The consumer alleged that CRS also suggested that he obtain an attorney and told him that he would be going to jail. Finally, the consumer alleged that CRS’ collector stated “You want to get belligerent? I will give you my address to come down here and take care of it?”
Collection agencies who make false threats that they will file a lawsuit, represent that they have filed a lawsuit, will obtain a judgment (without having the present ability and intention to sue), or threaten to immediately garnish a consumer’s wages (without having obtained a judgment), violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
A Tamarac, Florida consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems called her landlord on “multiple occasions” and, on each such occasion, disclosed the existence of the alleged debt owed by consumer.
The consumer stated that CRS’ representatives were abusive when they called her at work including telling consumer that she “would be crying by the end of the week.”
CRS’ representatives allegedly told consumer’s landlord that a “legal complaint” had been filed against consumer when no such complaint had been filed.
Consumer also said that CRS told her that if payment was not made CRS would pursue legal action against her and garnish her wages although CRS did not intend to take such actions.
The federal lawsuit also alleged that CRS even threatened to take consumer’s “family business” although consumer does not own an family business.
“Debt Validation Letter”
A Virginia consumer alleged that he received a dunning letter from Commercial Recovery Systems and was unsure whether he actually owed the debt because his father who has a similar name also had financial problems.
The consumer alleged that he called CRS and disputed the validity of the debt and requested proof that the debt was his because of the potential for confusion with his father. The consumer got the impression that CRS’ representative was not paying attention to him and would only ask when he was going to pay the debt until the conversation ended.
The consumer’s request for debt validation may have been ineffective because the consumer did not allege that he made it in writing within thirty (30) days of receiving his initial communication from the debt collector (assuming the debt collector mailed the “g” or “30 day” notice.
But, consumers may dispute a debt at any time and such disputes may be verbal although it is usually a good idea to put it in writing.
The consumer alleged that, a couple of months later, CRS began calling him at work a couple of times a day. According to the consumer, CRS called him at work and, after CRS asked him when he was going to pay CRS, the consumer inquired about the debt and requested proof that the money was owed.
CRS allegedly told the consumer that he did not have to show the consumer proof of the debt and the then used profanity by asking consumer why it was so “f@*#ing” important to show consumer documents evidencing that the debt was owed. Consumer alleged that he responded to this tirade by informing CRS that his employer did not allow him to accept such calls at work and requested not to be contacted at work again before he hung up the phone.
The consumer alleged that CRS’ debt collector called him at work again that same day around 10 a.m. According to the FDCPA lawsuit, CRS’ representative called and asked him whether he intended to pay the debt now and stated that he could do what he wanted to collect the debt and that there was nothing that consumer could do to stop him. Consumer allegedly repeated his request that CRS provide proof of the debt and stop calling him at work.
The consumer further alleged that CRS’s representative called him at work again two hours later and stated that he was going to make sure that consumer was thrown in jail and that it was a federal crime not to pay the debt. Consumer allegedly replied that he knew his rights and that CRS’ collector could not speak to him like this. CRS’ collector allegedly replied that there was nothing that consumer could do about it. CRS’ collector allegedly hung up the phone after consumer stated that he was going to contact an attorney.
“Cease Communication Letter”
A Virginia consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems called her at work and at home for eight months. CRS’ calls often displayed as “unknown caller” on her caller ID.
The consumer alleged that when she spoke with a CRS representative, the representative refused to identify herself after the consumer expressly asked her to do so.
A Virginia consumer alleged that CRS harassed and abused her by taunting her, mocking her, ridiculing her, insulting her, and directing profanity at her.
The FDCPA lawsuit alleged that CRS’ harassing and abusive language included calling consumer a “punk ass ho”, a “deadbeat bitch”, and “deadbeat ho” who likes to “go out and get sh*t without paying for it”.
Collection agencies are prohibited from using :
In my opinion, the comments alleged by the consumer would violate the FDCPA if proven true.
The Virginia consumer alleged that, following the conversation described above, she sent a letter to Commercial Recovery Systems requesting that CRS cease all communication with her.
The consumer alleged that, when a CRS debt collector called her, she reminded the debt collector that she’d already sent CRS a cease communication letter. According to the consumer, the debt collector persisted in attempting to collect the alleged debt, mocked the consumer for attempting to exercise her lawful right to request cease communication, and indicated that since consumer owed the money, CRS could and would continue to call consumer at her place of employment and anywhere else they could find her.
Although cease communication letters (also called “cease and desist letters) are often overused and misunderstood, I can appreciate the consumer’s frustration in attempting to cope with a collection agency that refuses to comply with a consumer’s lawful request.
Cease communication letters are distinguishable from requests that the debt collector stop calling the consumer while at work because it is either inconvenient or the employer has a policy which prohibits such calls — these requests may be verbal.
Pending “Legal Matter”
A Lakeland, Florida resident alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems called her mother at work and referred to a pending “legal matter” against consumer. Consumer alleged that she told CRS to “stop calling me, my mother, my coworkers, and my friends” and asked to be contacted only by U.S. mail.
CRS allegedly continued to call the consumer including a call to consumer’s employer’s secretary and left messages which referred to a pending “legal matter”.
The consumer also alleged that CRS left messages which falsely threatened to sue her.
A second Polk County, Florida resident alleged that he called Commercial Recovery Systems and requested that CRS provide him with the account balance and send him the letter setting forth his rights to request debt validation.
CRS allegedly refused to provide any information and told the consumer that his account would go to the “lien department” unless CRS received $ 110 before July 15, 2011.
The consumer alleged that when he informed CRS’ agent that he worked for the Department of Corrections, CRS’ debt collector replied “oh, where the criminals go, just like you”.
“Threats to Garnish”
In 2011, an Albuquerque, New Mexico consumer alleged that
Commercial Recovery Systems told her husband that CRS would file a lawsuit imminently, that consumer would be served process personally, and her wages would be garnished. During another telephone conversation, consumer’s husband asked CRS who the original creditor was and CRS allegedly replied that CRS was indeed the original creditor but in later conversations stated that the account was a credit card opened in 1999. After CRS refused to accept husband’s offers for payment arrangements, CRS allegedly referred to the “case number” and stated that court papers would be served very soon.
The consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems has never even filed a lawsuit in New Mexico against anyone including the consumer.
“Another Threat of IRS Audit”
A Flagler County, Florida couple alleged that CRS’ collection agent not only falsely threatened to file a lawsuit against them but also falsely threatened to file a claim against consumers with the I.R.S. and impound consumers’ vehicle.
The FDCPA lawsuit alleged that CRS called consumers three or four times a day even after consumers repeatedly asked CRS to stop calling them.
Consumers allege that CRS continued to call wife at work although they both requested that CRS stop calling wife at her place of employment. The husband alleged that CRS’ debt collector yelled and cursed at him and told husband that he has the power to do anything. When husband asked CRS to stop calling his wife at work, CRS allegedly replied “I can do whatever the f**k I want because I have the f**king power to do anything and take anything from you people”.
Husband also alleged that CRS’ collector also left a message on his voice mail threatening to contact wife’s work place if she did not get a hold of him within the next 30 minutes.
“Yet More Abuse Including Threats to Issue 1099′s”
An Alabama consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems’ representative falsely threatened him — if he filed bankruptcy, CRS would file a 1099 form on consumer and consumer would be unable to draw Social Security because the IRS and government would have a record of the 1099.
According to the Alabama FDCPA lawsuit, CRS responded to consumer’s refusal to send CRS the money immediately by Western Union by calling consumer a “smart ass”. Not surprisingly, the consumer alleged that he told CRS that the conversation was over and hung up. Despite this unequivocal statement, CRS called twice more that day and engaged the consumer in two conversations.
A couple of days later, CRS allegedly called consumer wanting to know how consumer was going to send the money. Consumer told CRS that he was not sending anything until he received an agreement in writing. According to the consumer, CRS’ representative complained that he would not get the money by the first of the month and told the consumer to send the money and he would send the agreement to consumer. Consumer still refused. CRS’ representative alleged said he would fax the agreement where consumer could go and pick it up but consumer refused because he did not want his personal information faxed anywhere. The FDCPA lawsuit alleged that, at that point CRS’ representative got mad and said “Keep your f—— money, I don’t give a d–” and hung up on consumer.
The FDCPA complaint alleged that CRS called him because the caller understood that consumer had a problem with the representative who called him recently.
The caller transferred the call to a lady who send that she would send the consumer an agreement in writing if consumer would go through with the offer that he made to the previous representative. Understandably, the consumer alleged that he told the lady that he was not sure what he needed to do now and that he may need to get an attorney. Plaintiff said that he asked her who she worked for and she said Hyundai Motor. (The account was a Kia account). Consumer alleged that he asked the lady if she worked for Hyundai and not a collection agency and she replied that she was trying to collect the debt for Hyundai. The consumer said that he asked her who she worked for again and she finally said “Commercial Recovery Systems.”
“I Deal With Trash Like You From Florida All The Time”
A Highlands County, Florida resident alleged that he explained that he was currently unable to pay CRS. Commercial Recovery Systems’ debt collector allegedly replied “I deal with trash like you from Florida all of the time.” The consumer alleged that CRS also disclosed the debt to his mother.
The consumer alleged that CRS called him at the doctor’s office where he works and that he informed CRS to call his place of employment and hung up the phone.
Instead of respecting the consumer’s lawful request, Commercial Recovery Systems allegedly called back immediately and told the receptionist that she was a “patient” who needed to speak with the consumer’s supervisor because she had issues with the consumer.
The receptionist transferred the CRS collector to consumer’s co-manager. The CRS collector identified herself as a debt collector with CRS and inquired about consumer’s employment and stated that someone was going to come to the office in a day or two to discuss wage garnishment as a result of the alleged debt.
Unless a debt collector is attempting to collect on a judgment, debt collectors usually violate the FDCPA if they contact a consumer’s employer and identify themselves as a debt collector or disclosing the debt.
“Negotiations Gone Wild”
A Nevada consumer alleged that she called Commercial Recovery Systems during August, 2011, in an effort to resolve the account. The consumer alleged that when she started to speak to discuss settlement, CRS’ representative screamed at her and also called her a “stupid idiot”. CRS’ representative allegedly then threatened to garnish thirty-five (35%) of her wages if consumer did not pay within fifteen days.
“That’s How We Get You People to Call”
A Minnesota consumer alleged that, when her husband called Commercial Recovery Systems in response to a truncated telephone message, CRS’ representative answered the phone “Law Office of Caleb Smith”. The representative asked consumer’s husband for the “case number” which he provided. According to the FDCPA complaint, CRS’ collection agent responded “This is Commercial Recovery Systems” and husband asked “What? You just identified yourself as a Law Firm.” CRS allegedly replied “That’s how we get you people to call.”
Regardless of whether it is effective in coercing people to call the debt collector, debt collectors who falsely claim to be lawyers, law firms or attorney violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
“Paying the Original Creditor”
A Louisiana couple alleged that husband was paying Mitsubishi $ 200 a month. Husband alleged that he received a call from someone who identified themselves as calling from Mitsubishi who told him that his payments of $ 200 per month were no longer enough and that such payments were not properly set up anyway and were not “official”. The caller demanded the full balance and allegedly threatened to call the sheriff and institute a wage garnishment if the balance was not paid in full. The consumer alleged that the caller hung up after he explained that he could not pay the full balance.
Later that day, the consumer allegedly called Mitsubishi and the company offered to accept $ 4,044.23 in a lump sum payment to be paid within four days. Fortunately for the consumer, he requested that Mitsubishi send him the offer in writing and he was able to pay it a day earlier than the deadline set by Mitsubishi.
The consumer alleged that he informed Mitsubishi that he was going to stop payment on a $ 200 check that he had recently mailed in because they were settling the account and that Mitsubishi did not object.
According to the Fair Debt lawsuit, Commercial Recovery Systems called consumer approximately five weeks later demanding that consumer pay $ 1,743.63 allegedly still due to Mitsubishi. Consumer alleged that he promptly called Mitsubishi and the company’s representative assured him that he would contact CRS to clear it up. According to the consumer, he called both Mitsubishi and CRS two days later to confirm that the situation was resolved but neither would return his call.
The consumer alleged that, three weeks later, CRS called consumer and informed him that consumer owed $ 1,743.63 and that CRS had never received anything from Mitsubishi stating otherwise.
Consumer said that he faxed CRS the letter containing Mitsubishi’s settlement offer and the confirmation number given Mitsubishi furnished him when the company accepted his payment.
Later that day, the consumer called Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi allegedly told consumer that he would “only” have to pay $ 200 for the check he stopped payment on and that she would have someone from Mitsubishi communicate this to CRS.
Approximately nine days later, CRS allegedly told the consumer that CRS had not heard anything from Mitsubishi and that he still owed $ 1,743.63. The consumer said that CRS also told him that they’d sent him a “final warning” letter and that the alleged balance would be reported to the credit bureaus.
The consumer also alleged that CRS called again a week later and told him that he would have to pay now in order to avoid further collection activity and damage to his credit. Consumer replied that he would be hiring an attorney. CRS allegedly replied that it would be a waste of time as an attorney would tell him that the debt was valid and that he should pay it in full.
According to the consumers’ lawsuit, CRS called his wife two days later asking if he’d “overlooked” the fact that he owed them $ 1,743.63 and told wife that the matter was with the “final processing department”.
The consumers alleged that, two days later, CRS’ collection agent called claiming that she found additional notes validating Mitsubishi’s claim against him. CRS allegedly told husband that, if he did not pay CRS that day, the account would go “into the legal system” and his wages would be garnished for the full amount.
Wife alleged that CRS’ representative called her later that day and told her that they would be hearing from a CRS attorney that day. (The consumers said that they never heard from a CRS attorney.
According to the consumers, they faxed CRS the Mitsubishi settlement letter, a copy of the cancelled check paid to Mitsubishi, and Mitsubishi’s confirmation number for the payment.
Despite consumers efforts to dispute the settled debt and repeated requests that CRS stop calling them, the consumers alleged that CRS continued to call them for several more months.
According to an Alachua County, Florida consumer, even working with CRS and making payments did not stop the harassment. The consumer alleged that while making payments to CRS, CRS continued to call him and his relatives including his wife’s grandmother. The consumer alleged that he repeatedly requested that CRS stop calling his relatives but CRS continued to call his family. The consumer allegedly sent CRS a cease communication letter requesting that all CRS cease all communications with him and everyone else. The consumer alleged that CRS called his grandmother approximately two months after he mailed the cease communication letter. Finally, the consumer alleged that CRS left messages on his phone which failed to state that the call was from a debt collector.
“Get It In Writing”
A Virginia consumer alleged that she agreed to pay Commercial Recovery Systems $ 50 per month and requested that CRS not contact her employer or her at work at any time since her employer did not permit these types of personal calls at work.
The consumer complained that approximately six months later, CRS called her at her place of employment stating that her $ 50 monthly payments were not covering the interest on the debt and were no longer acceptable. The Fair Debt complaint also alleged that CRS told the consumer that she needed to come up with $ 1,500 by the end of the week or they would take her to court.
The consumer said that CRS’ representative also told her to submit her bank statements and pay stubs to see if she would qualify for any type of settlement of the debt and suggested she would work with the consumer on her monthly payments to pay back the debt.
The FDCPA complaint also alleged that CRS’ employee threatened to garnish her wages in order to pay back the debt and, when consumer asked what she meant by that, CRS’ employee hung up the phone. According to the consumer, CRS’ employee then called right back asking to speak with consumer’s boss who was not available to take the call.
“Share Your Experience”
Consumers who Commercial Recovery Systems, Inc. has attempted to collect a debt from are welcome to comment about their experiences with Commercial Recovery Systems.
At least one consumer alleged that Commercial Recovery Systems blocks its caller id information so that consumers are unable to identify the incoming telephone number or that the call is from CRS. Several other consumers alleged that CRS failed to identify the name of their company and/or that they were attempting to collect a debt. This makes things unnecessarily burdensome and potentially confusing or even deceptive for consumers.
The FDCPA lawsuits alleged that CRS used the following telephone numbers to accept return calls from consumers : 214-321-7800, 800-214-5305, 800-214-5356, 800-214-5379, 800-214-7801, 800-214-7806, 800-214-7816, 800-214-7834, 800-214-7838, and 800-214-7850.
Consumers who have additional telephone incoming telephone numbers that they believe are used by Commercial Recovery Systems are encouraged to share these telephone numbers by commenting. We will attempt to verify the numbers and add them to our list.
Consumers who are receiving calls from Commercial Recovery Systems are also welcome to describe their experiences in the comment section following this article.
“Being Harassed? Had Enough?”
If you are receiving calls from Commercial Recovery Systems, Inc. and are not sure about your rights, please feel free to contact me privately by completing the Collection Agency Harassment form in the right hand column of this page.
If you live in Florida, you are also welcome to call my office and I will contact you to discuss your potential case
and how I may be able to help you.
(C) 2011 – 2013 Donald E. Petersen
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