Make Sure ‘Collection Companies' Aren't Making Up Your Debt

The calls can keep coming and get aggressive when collection agencies are working to get people who are behind on their bills to pay up.

Tiffany Schunn panicked when her mom and dad told her a man called saying Tiffany was about to get sued over a bill she hadn't paid. She immediately called the number back.

The caller told her that she had taken out a payday loan of $300 back in 2010 and never paid it back. 

Tiffany said she only took out one payday loan in her life and that was when she was in college and it was repaid immediately.

She got calls at her house and work telling her this was a recent payday loan, but Tiffany swore it wasn't hers.

"I said, 'I want to see documentation that I signed requesting a loan.' They said, "We can't give you that,"' said Schunn.

The Consumer Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that information be provided. It also forbids collection agencies from calling you at work, but only if you tell them to stop. That's something Tiffany said she did.

We tried to get to the bottom of the calls but that was complicated.

The first call claimed the collection agency was Fi-ber Financial of Georgia but we found no company under that name is registered in that state.

Tiffany also got another email and it gave this physical address for the company on the email, but it's really just a mailbox at a UPS store.

Yet another email came from Chaplain Financial, a real business, but state records show it shut down earlier this year long before Tiffany started getting these calls.

She's not the only one.

The Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta has given Chaplain Financial a failing grade saying they've been investigating the company after getting 13 similar complaints about payday loan bills with no documentation to prove they exist. The BBB said no one with the organization ever calls or writes them back.

NBC 5 Responds called too. We repeatedly got voicemails for the company, but when we finally got someone to pick up the phone they hung up as soon as we told them who we were. They never answered our calls again. 

"They did such a good job at convincing me that this was my debt," said Schunn.

Schunn said they were high-pressure and clearly had her credit report, knowing previous addresses and bank accounts she had. But they followed no rules to give her information about the debt and threatened her with lawsuits and arrest, something she knew wasn't right.

"I feel like I know what I've done and what I haven't done, but what if my Grandma had received this phone call or what if my mom or dad received it on them," said Schunn.

Schunn believes whoever called her received her personal information from her credit report. Cyber security attacks have a lot of our personal information out there. Even if you lock your credit report, that just protects you from getting new accounts opened in your name. It doesn’t stop people from taking the already leaked information and using it against you.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office as well as the Georgia Attorney General say they’re beginning to look into the company.

If you get a call from a debt collector, the BBB said there are several things you should know:

  • Ask for an official “validation notice.” You are entitled to know the amount of the debt and where it is from.
  • Ask for a name, address and company name from the caller, then confirm the collection agency is real.
  • If a company uses multiple names, that’s a red flag, and you should do more research.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the caller uses threats.
  • Under the Consumer Fair Debt Collection Act, collection agencies cannot call you at work once you tell them to stop.
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