Are you being called By Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC?* Here's what you need to know.
You may not be surprised when a creditor turns your account over to a third-party collection agency after arrears build up, but if the debt collectors are rude or manipulative, it can take a toll on your health. Don’t let them literally make you sick: you have grounds to stand up to them and even sue them if the harassment doesn’t stop.
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, hostile or deceptive means to obtain debt payments from you. Illegal collection actions include:
- Refusal to provide you with information about the debt upon request
- Threatening to have you arrested or imprisoned
- Using abusive language
- Failing to identify themselves as debt collectors seeking to collect a debt
- Contacting you even after you dispute a debt
- Claiming to be law enforcement officials who will arrest you for nonpayment
Company Profile: Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC
If you are being called by Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC, information about the company is below.
Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC, is a debt collection agency located in Stone Mountain, Georgia. It was established in 2009, and has had several complaints made against it to the Better Business Bureau and other agency. Civil litigation records retained at the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website confirms that many consumers who believed they were being harassed by Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC protected themselves by filing lawsuits, with some resulting in substantial awards.
Alleged Violations against Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC
According to PACER, in or around January 2010 Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC began attempting to collect a debt from a California resident. During its initial communication, the firm allegedly contacted her mother at the latter's workplace and left two messages asking to speak to the California resident regarding a legal matter involving her social security number.
When she called the number left in the messages, a recorded message informed her that she had reached the “Pending Warrants Department.” She spoke to a party who identified himself as Adam Shaw and allegedly told her that she had to pay $800 for a $350 debt incurred in 2005. Frightened, she agreed to a payment arrangement, so Mr. Shaw sent her a letter proposing six payments of $150, which totaled $900, rather than the $800 he had claimed she owed. The California resident disputed this amount and stated, “Any agreement I have made with you is null and void”, but the first payment of $150.00 was still withdrawn from her checking account.
Feeling harassed by Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC, the California resident hired a consumer attorney and sued the company for allegedly violating the FDCPA by:
- Using false, deceptive, and misleading means to collect a debt
- Failing to identify itself as a debt collector in all communications
- Misrepresenting the character, amount, and legal status of the debt
- Failing to send a validation letter five days after initial contact
A judge later awarded the California resident $11,711.82 in damages and court costs.
Hire an Attorney
The phone number for this collection agency is 1-800-219-0771. If you see it on your caller ID at any time, it means that you are being called by Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC. If they are verbally abusive and demand amounts that far exceed the original debt, hire a consumer attorney immediately. If you file a claim against Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC, with your attorney’s help and win, you could potentially receive $1,000 per FDCPA violation, as well as attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages. The law is on your side when debt collectors go too far, so never be too intimidated to fight back.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is Case 3:11-cv-00140-B from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Bernstein, Shapiro & Associates, LLC, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.