Consumers in several states are complaining about calls from debt collectors they say are abusive.
Calvin Williams, of Missouri, is suing National Credit Adjusters after he said the company's operators left him voice mails using vulgar language and racial slurs.
Williams shared voicemail recordings with KMOV, our sister station in St. Louis. In one call, a man is heard saying, "These f---ing guys, man. F---ing n----s. Never f---ing pay."
In another voicemail, a woman says, "We hope you enjoy your Christmas because this might be the last Christmas for you if you don't even make a payment or even get this debt taken care of."
National Credit Adjusters is based in Kansas but has business licenses in several states, including Tennessee. And people in our state have complained about the company's tactics in the past.
West Tennessee resident Alfreda Williams sued National Credit Adjusters in 2012. She said the company called her cell phone during the day repeatedly, even though she asked them not to bother her at work.
"At times she was receiving up to 20 calls per week and even up to four calls per day," said Alfreda Williams' attorney, Amy Bennecoff.
In her lawsuit, Alfreda Williams claimed a caller left a voicemail threatening her job if she did not pay her debt.
"They were going to get her fired if she did not pay this debt," Bennecoff said. "This was very scary for my client, the threat of possibly losing her employment."
National Credit Adjusters never responded to Alfreda Williams' allegations in court, and she eventually dismissed her case voluntarily. Her attorney told Channel 4 News the company did stop calling her client.
A Tennessee couple sued National Credit Adjusters in 2010 alleging its operators threatened to have them arrested if they did not pay. That couple also eventually dismissed their suit voluntarily.
Calvin Williams also turned over a voicemail to KMOV that included a similar threat. The caller is heard saying, "We need to get some type of payment in right now, as soon as we can get it. Or else I will have to send local authorities to your address to see about locking you up."
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from harassing consumers, using obscene language, threatening to have consumers arrested and using threats of harm.
The National Credit Adjusters website says it is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, but the BBB's website says it is in the process of updating its profile of the company.
Tennessee BBB officials confirmed to Channel 4 News a Hendersonville resident complained about the company's practices in 2012.
Channel 4 News called the number for National Credit Adjusters listed on the company's website, but no one would answer our questions. We also emailed the company but did not receive a response.
KMOV reporter Chris Nagus went to the company's offices in Kansas, but no one there would comment about the allegations either, and the station says, to date, no one from the company has responded to them about the claims in Calvin Williams' lawsuit.
If you feel a debt collector is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have the right to sue the debt collector within a year of the violation. If your attorney can prove the debt collector violated the law, the company would be ordered to pay your legal fees, and a judge could order the company to pay you up to $1,000 in damages.
For more details on what debt collectors can and cannot do, and how to file a complaint, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection.
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