Debt collectors are taking your words out of context, to make it sound like you agreed to pay back the debt.
When an Auburn viewer says it happened to him, he called Kurtis Ming to investigate.
He says he’s never even heard of the company claiming he owes the debt.
But he claims the debt collector twisted around words they recorded during one of their calls, so it appears he owes the money.
Small business owner, Roger Johnson, says this debt collector has harassed him for three years.
“They kept threatening, we’re just going to file and put a lien against your company, we’re going to ruin your credit. You know, nobody really wants that,” said Roger.
Roger’s bookkeeper says she was bullied into paying $499 in 2010 and another $439 the year after for a debt they say they didn’t owe, to Regional Yellow Pages Online, based in New York.
“They said you agreed to it, we got you on tape for agreeing to it. Yeah they got me on tape for saying yes, this is American River Machine but they quoted us as agreeing,” said Diane Cartwright.
We’ve learned the state of Indiana went after a New York based company with the same name in 2010, for recording conversations and asking consumers to verify their “contact information.” The lawsuit also alleged the company would take the “response of yes”… out of context to appear the person agreed to owing the money.
“All too often, the consumer ends up on the short end,” said Al Bingham, credit expert.
Bingham says if the same collectors keep harassing you, you may consider getting recording equipment and letting them know you’re recording the call.
“They have pushed the envelope. They have gone above and beyond what the law has given to them,” said Bingham.
We contacted Regional Yellow Pages Online and spoke with an employee named Lisa Johnson.
She refused to answer any questions and told us to “find a story somewhere else…” and to “call Dr. Phil” instead.
She then hung up on us.
The company recently sent Roger another collection notice, but this time, he disputed the debt in writing.
“There’s probably dozens of them out there doing the same thing, getting away with it,” said Roger.
You just might want to be careful of saying words like “yes” when they call, in case they turn it around.
If a debt collector claims you owe money, ask them to prove it.
They have to send it to you in writing.
Once you get that, if you know it’s not your debt, send them a letter, saying stop contacting me, I don’t owe you anything.
By law, they have to stop.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.