Jun 17, 2015 4:14 PM

NH1 News Investigates Deceptive Debt Collection Agency? How to handle these calls


CONCORD - A scam by a so-called debt collector threatens a lawsuit, even jail time.

That's if you don't pay a debt that you probably don't even know.

Now, we traced one of those calls to get answers.

More and more of these so-called debt collectors are calling people than ever before.

At least, that's who they claim they are.

We tracked the call of one of our colleagues.

NH1's Marketing Director Joe Tombarello got one of those calls.

He works hard to pay his bills and said he has no outstanding bills that he knows of.

So imagine his surprise when he got the call.

"Federal law mandates that I inform you of a pending civil suit," the caller said.

It was a voicemail that threatens him with a lawsuit.

That voicemail began by saying, "This is an important message for a Mr. Tom Gallagher. This is Clarice White from the garnishment department pertaining to Barnstable (Barn-Stable) County Court."

(Note: The name of the county was said incorrectly.)

The woman leaving the message never said what company she's calling from, while Joe's outgoing greeting clearly said she he is not Tom Gallagher, the so-called intended recipient of the call.

"If I was Tom Gallagher, I'd definitely be fearful and intimated," Tombarello said. "Because they were trying to pressure me. They wanted me to act now and call them right now."

Joe didn't but we did.

The first time a representative of the company called me, put me on hold, and then hung up.

The second time I called I informed them once again that by law I was calling them on a recorded line.

Once I said that, they refused to give us any information.

So Joe called saying he was on a recorded line and asked them point blank, "What type of organization are you?"

The response he got?

"Unfortunately,sir, if you don't have any business in this office, I will not release any information to you," the rep said.

Since we couldn't get any information from them over the phone either through the number they told Joe to call back, we went to their website and called the number and left messages.

We never heard back.

They did tell Joe that they were calling from that company whose website we went on, ARM Recovery Services.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office said they haven't gotten any complaints, so far, about this company here in the Granite State.

But the Attorney General's Office said they get complaints like these on a regular basis.

"They can't harass you, and they can't threaten you with arrest," said James Boffetti, Senior New Hampshire Attorney General.

He said they prey on peoples' fears.

"Most of these people are fringe operators," Boffetti said. "They're bottom-feeders. They aren't legitimate debt collectors."

Joe instinctively knew what to do when he got the call and feels bad for those who don't.

"That's how they get you," he said. "They don't even have time to think."

There are laws to protect you.

One of them?

The debt collector must give you proof of the debt in writing.

They also have to tell you what company they are and make sure, experts say, you get the most information about them as possible.

Lastly, you can always file a complain with the Better Business Bureau.


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