Is Mel S Harris and Associates Calling You?* Here's What You Need to Know
If you’ve fallen behind on your financial obligations, you may be hearing from debt collectors. If they do call, they will almost certainly insist that you need to pay them right then and now. But there are a number of things that they aren’t likely to tell you, one of those being that as an indebted consumer you have protection under the law.
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
As a consumer, you have rights no matter what the size of your debt may be. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using unprofessional and unethical methods to collect money from you. Examples of illegal activities include:
- Calling you at inconvenient times, such as before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. your time
- Demanding amounts that are not supported by law or the original creditor agreement
- Using abusive or obscene language
- Calling you at work after you’ve told them that your employer doesn’t allow such calls
- Contacting you after you have retained legal counsel with regards to the debt
- Pretending to be law enforcement agents to scare you into paying
Company Profile: Mel S. Harris and Associates
Mel S. Harris and Associates is a debt collection law firm located in New York, New York. It was established in 2002, has less than 10 employees, and is managed by its owner, Mel Harris. The firm currently has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. Records on file at the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website confirm that the firm has accused of violating the FDCPA during its years in business.
Alleged Violations against Mel S. Harris and Associates
Ericka McGlothin vs. Mel S. Harris and Associates et al*
According to PACER, on February 11, 2005, Mel S. Harris and Associates filed a lawsuit against New York resident Ericka McGlothin to collect a consumer debt allegedly owed to Providian. Sometime after acquiring a judgment against her, the firm sent a notice to her bank, Bank of America, to restrain her accounts.
On or about July 7, 2015, Ms. McGlothin received a letter from Bank of America stating they froze her account for $3,478.92, pursuant to the judgment. Bank of America also charged her a $100.00 non-refundable processing fee for the restraint. These restrained funds were derived from workers compensation benefits and child support, both of which were legally exempt from seizure.
Ms. McGlothin called Mel S. Harris and Associates in regards to the restraining notice. In this conversation, a representative allegedly told her that they could restrain her money for a year and that she had to pay $2,600 or else they would execute on all her funds.
She promptly had Bank of America fax the firm an Exemption Claim Form that indicated that her account contained the aforementioned exempt funds. Mel S. Harris and Associates the allegedly proceeded to call her several times to set up a payment plan arrangement. Many of these conversations allegedly occurred after the firm had been advised that Ms. McGlothin’s funds were exempt as well as her sole source of income.
She finally hired a consumer attorney and sued Mel S. Harris and Associates for allegedly violating the FDCPA in the following ways:
- Attempting to coerce her to enter into a payment plan agreement using her exempt funds.
- Telling her that they could keep her account restrained for a year despite the existence of the exempt funds in the account.
- Telling her that they could take the money in her account in the event she didn’t agree to a payment plan.
The matter was later resolved.
Hire an Attorney
The phone number for Mel S. Harris and Associates is 1-212-571-4900. If you see this number on your caller ID when the phone rings, a debt collector is looking for you.If they bully you by attempting to seize exempt funds in your account, hire a consumer attorney. Such conduct violates the FDCPA, and you could win $1,000 per violation as well as attorney's fees, court costs, and any actual damages. You have rights that debt collectors ignore at their own risk.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is Case 1:15-cv-00718-JTC from the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.
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 Mel S. Harris and Associates or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.