Aggressive debt collectors targeting Missourians

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by Chris Nagus / News 4 Investigates

KMOV.com

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 11:12 PM

(KMOV) -- Larry West is fed up with calls from nasty debt collectors in Missouri. “He started calling back again, threatening my wife, saying he is going to have her arrested,” said West.

West contacted News 4 in 2011, after getting calls from a debt collector where the man on the other end of the phone cursed at him.

West owes on a payday loan, but even though he's working to pay it back, he still gets abusive calls from the same 805 area code.

Now the foul mouth callers are spoofing “Emergency 911” on his caller ID to get him to pick up, and the debt collector says he's a cop.

“They come up emergency," West said. "So, you actually think the local 911 is trying to get a hold of you. Maybe there is an emergency or something, and you answer and it's this guy.”
 
Larry West is not alone. A St. Louis woman says she was harassed by a debt collector who threatened to arrest her for a debt she didn't even owe.

The debt came about when someone took out a payday loan in her name. She told us that the caller was "very aggressive, saying if I did not pay the debt they were going to take me to court.”
 
Doug Ommen with the Consumer Protection Division of the Missouri Attorney General’s office says recent changes with the Federal Consumer Protection Act give states’ Attorneys General more authority to crack down on debt buyers. Those are the people who make the calls to collect debts. Ommen’s office knows it's a huge problem.

They have already received 1,500 debt collection complaints this year.

Last year it was 1,873 complaint calls, making it the second most complained-about industry in Missouri.

Click here to file a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s office about an abusive debt collector.

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