All Rung Out
Posted: 2007-11-28. Categories: California, Retail Stores

Stop Telephone Harrassment by Debt Collectors

 

This isn’t exactly a “shopping” story but one that you may find interesting and hopefully helpful. I’ve written several articles in the past about our cross-country moves — one of the worst and costly mistakes my husband and I have ever made. It took us a long time to begin to repair the damage to our credit rating. We are still dealing with the fall-out.

Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee now, this will be a long story. I won’t go into all minute details but will focus primarily on the telephone harassment we have experienced and fill you in on how to end the madness, if you are ever in this situation.

Just brief background: We moved back to California after traveling around the country looking for work. We moved into the Sierra Mountains, where Sprint cell phone service is not available. So, we cancelled our Sprint service that we had been using for about five years. After all, we weren’t going to drive an hour and thirty minutes to Modesto, just to make a telephone call.

Early Termination Fees

Sprint (and any other cell phone company) is not supposed to charge an early termination of contract fee ($250.00), if service is not available, but they did. We were in financial distress at the time and didn’t handle the problem in a timely manner – that was our first and biggest mistake. After cancelling our service from Sprint, we didn’t think another thing about it, until; our account was sold to a debt collector.

By then, it was too late. Try as we may, we couldn’t get anyone to listen to us. Sprint had washed their hands of the mistake and refused to help, the collection agencies only wanted payment.

We hope someday to buy a home, so we needed to resolve the matter. So, when we received a letter from Cavalry Portfolio Services to settle the account for 50% of the amount owed, we jumped at it. I called to verify the offer was legitimate, then shot off a check that same day. Thankfully, I thought ahead enough to document everything.

The hubby and I were feeling pretty good about getting this taken care of when – the other shoe dropped. Almost immediately after paying off the account, the calls started. Phillips & Cohen began their campaign to drive us stark raving mad. Since mid-August Phillips & Cohen, a collection agency out of Delaware has called our house from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. with an automated dialer — every single day of the week. Often calling as many as six to eight times daily.

At first, I tried to work with them. I returned the call and explained to them that the bill had been paid, please remove us from their auto dialer. The calls continued. I actually spoke with young man named Joshua and faxed him the cancelled check and all my documentation. The calls continued.

Stress Relief Efforts

I’m embarrassed to admit that I even spent one afternoon calling their office and hanging up on them every time they answered, out of sheer frustration. For the past two-months, we’ve just been picking up and hanging up the telephone, each time their number (1-866-719-3522) came up on the caller ID. Last month, we ordered a call blocking service from our telephone company. Wouldn’t you know it; it doesn’t block 800 or 866 numbers. Gee, who’s paying my phone bill anyway? I was so frustrated, I was ready to shut off our telephone or at least change our phone number. Of course, that can get expensive but hey, who cares if I can’t get any sleep because my phone is constantly ringing.

Last night I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t get to sleep. I finally managed to fall asleep at 5 a.m. and what do you think happened? I was awakened at 8:00 a.m. by our (not-so) friendly auto-dialer. That was it, I was up, couldn’t go back to sleep and it was war. I made up my mind that enough was enough and I wasn’t going to rest until I had solved this problem.

Phone Calls Go Unanswered

First I tried to call the company back and guess what? They hung up on me every time I tried to call. Out of frustration I tried to look up their website online and while, a search didn’t produce their website, I found one with numerous complaints similar to mine, it had a link to their website. The site listed several addresses and phone numbers, so, I started calling.

I finally got someone to answer; they didn’t want to hear what I had to say, so they hung up on me. So, I called back again. I reached another operator, she was willing to listen, until my husband picked up the phone and blew up – she hung up on us again. This was not working the way I had hoped it would.

I called the California Attorney General’s office, who advised me to file an official compliant from their website. Ok, I can do that but it won’t fix my problem – today. I found another website that advised filing a complaint with the FTC, that’s terrific, I can do that but it won’t fix my problem – today.

Is Litigation the Only Answer?

I called several attorneys’ offices locally and got the run around there too. Doesn’t anyone work between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Back to square one. I called Phillips & Cohen again, this time I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was transferred to someone’s answer machine not once but twice — that someone ended up not being a supervisor at all.

I finally ended up reaching a young man named Chris; he informed me that Phillips & Cohen were hired by Cavalry to collect on our account. He informed me that Joshua had removed my number from his computer and placed a note on the file but had neglected to remove our number system-wide. Another person prior to Chris had informed me that we were being called, “due to a computer glitch.”

Chris promised to remove me from the auto-dialer, informing me that it could take up to 24-hours for it take effect.

Confrontation with Cavalry Portfolio

It was time to confront Cavalry Portfolio Services. I made several calls trying to reach someone that had a clue. I finally spoke with a Mr. Vocal he promised to help me. I requested written confirmation that the bill had been paid (I had also requested a letter at the time it was paid, but none was forthcoming) he agreed to send one. I asked Mr. Vocal why Phillips & Cohen had been hired to collect on an account that had already been paid. Mr. Vocal even attempted to assist me in setting up an online account with their company, so that I could download a letter right then but their system wouldn’t allow it, since the bill no longer existed.

Needless to say, I wasted hours on the telephone today but our phone has been silent all night – something that hasn’t happened in months. Between Phillips & Cohen and Cavalry Portfolio Services, I probably made 30 or 40 phone calls today. I wish I had kept track. The point is, if you are having similar trouble. Do not give up. Every time I called I reached a different person; each person had his or her own style, skill level, personality and level of willingness to help (or not).

It took several phone calls but I never waivered in what I wanted. I was persistent and did not give up prematurely. I eventually found someone willing and able to assist me in resolving my problem.

Even though I am pretty sure I have resolved this situation. We endured endless phone calls for months. I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep I missed due to the phone calls and well as the stress of it all. I will be filing a complaint with both the FTC and the Attorney General’s Office.

If all else fails I have written a Cease and Desist letter, which legally prevents them from calling my home again.

Moral of the story: If you can spare the time, you can fight back and win. But who has time for this stuff? I’ve lost at least five hours of my life that I will never get back but hopefully the phone will stay silent, except of course for calls I want to take.

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2 Comments to "All Rung Out"

  1. debt settlement says:

    Here are some tips to earn or lessen your debt:
    *Stop using credit. The only people who should use credit cards are those who are disciplined enough to use rewards cards wisely and pay them off entirely every month.

    *Do some budget planning. Plan how you will spend your paycheck.

    *Don’t buy something just because you really want it. Buy only things you need.

  2. Joe Aldeguer says:

    Although applying for loans is very hard, many companies are providing good services to the people just to pay back the money. The loan can only be a good way for seeking opportunities and fulfilling the desires but it will become a frustration if the borrower will not pay the money in time.