Is McCarthy Burgess & Wolff calling you? Here's what you need to know.
In September 1977, the US Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, to curb the alarming amount of abuse that third-party collection agencies were inflicting on consumers who owed a debt. The outcome of that harassment was a rise in personal bankruptcies, marital instability, and stress levels that resulted in mental and physical breakdown.
The FDCPA regulates what debt collectors may say and do while collecting or attempting to collect a debt from consumers, and provides consumers with the right to demand verification of the debt, dispute it entirely, and request no further contact from the collector.
Below is a list of some actions that are illegal under the FDCPA when committed while collecting or attempting to collect a debt:
- Cursing, uttering profanities, and making legally unsupportable threats
- Using the telephone to harass someone (e.g. using an autodialer)
- Calling at inconvenient times, which is defined as before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. in the consumer’s time zone
- Calling someone at work when they are aware that workplace policy does not permit such calls
- Claiming to be anything but a debt collector seeking to collect a debt
- Failing or refusing to verify the debt
- Ignoring a cease communications request
- Contacting someone who has retained an attorney with regards to the debt
- Discuss the debt with anyone except the consumer, their attorney, spouse, or co-signer
Alleged Violations against McCarthy, Burgess & Wolff*
Despite the penalties for disregarding the FDCPA, some debt collectors persist in employing illegal methods to get money.
McCarthy, Burgess & Wolff is a large collection agency located in Cleveland, Ohio. According to the company website, it is one of the biggest agencies in the country, and has collected over one billion dollars for its clients over the past decade. A check of civil litigation records archived by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) turns up several instances of McCarthy, Burgess & Wolff being sued for improper debt collection practices.
Dale Taylor v. McCarthy Burgess & Wolff
In 2009, Florida resident Dale Taylor began receiving phone calls from McCarthy Burgess & Wolff representatives, who wanted to collect a $3900 debt she allegedly owed. Ms. Taylor, who denied that she owed the debt, claimed that the company did not send her a debt verification letter and failed to disclose that it was a debt collector seeking to settle a debt. One voicemail message, which she transcribed and attached to her complaint as an exhibit, allegedly threatened legal action and an imminent asset liability investigation, neither of which ever took place.
McCarthy Burgess & Wolff was accused of the following FDCPA violations:
- Calling Ms. Taylor at times or places which were known or should have been known to be inconvenient for him (§ 1692c(a)(1))
- Engaging in harassing and abusive conduct while attempting to collect a debt (§ 1692d)
- Using the telephone to harass a consumer (§ 1692d(5))
- Failing to meaningfully disclose its identity as a debt collector in voice communications (§ 1692d(6))
- Misrepresenting the debt (§ 1692e)
- Misrepresenting a debt that Ms. Taylor insisted she did not owe (§ 1692e(2)(a))
- Threatening to seize Ms. Taylor’s property if she did not pay (§ 1692e(5))
- Threatening to file a lawsuit when the company had no intention of actually doing it (§ 1692e(5))
- Using false and deceptive means to collect a debt (§ 1692e(10))
- Attempting to collect a debt not authorized by any agreement because Ms. Taylor allegedly did not owe it (§ 1692f(1))
- Failing to provide the legally required notification letter within five days after initial contact (§ 1692g(a)(1-5))
The matter was later resolved.
If you get a call from 1-440-735-5100, be aware that the caller is from McCarthy Burgess & Wolff and they are trying to collect a debt you may not even owe. If you do not receive a validation notice within five days after the first communication and threaten legal action that never comes to pass, see a consumer attorney.
The FDCPA prohibits such activities when connected to debt collection, and you could receive damages of $1000 for every FDCPA violation, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. You have rights, and should never hesitate to use them when a debt collector goes too far.
The size and nature of your debt have nothing to do with how you should be treated as a human being. If third-party collectors are subjecting you to the type of harassment outlined in the FDCPA, you should consider completing a free case evaluation and filing a claim with the help of an FDCPA attorney. Winning your claim could mean netting $1000 for each FDCPA violation, along with additional damages, and having an attorney increases the likelihood that you’ll have a successful claim. Your attorney can aid in gathering evidence, arguing on your behalf, and knowing exactly what is required at each point in the case. In other words, your attorney will be in the best position to help you navigate this complex process and finally get the peace of mind that you deserve.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 3:09-cv-01151-HLA-HTS from United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against McCarthy, Burgess & Wolff or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.