Belleville woman irate after vulgar phone calls from debt collectors

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by Chris Nagus

KMOV.com

Posted on November 10, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 11 at 9:03 AM

(KMOV) -- A Belleville woman contacted News 4 after she started receiving vulgar phone calls from a California debt collector.

Tammy Henshaw's daughter Angie died last May, she says she was unable to pay the funeral home $5,000 for the casket, the service, and use of the parlor. The funeral home entered a contract with Rumson, Bolling and Associates in California to collect Tammy's debt.

"They told me they were going to dig my daughter up and hang her from a tree," if she didn't pay the debt according to Henshaw. Henshaw says the calls came from the 818 area code, the debt collector confirms the phone number belongs to them.

Henshaw provided News 4 with a copy of the conversations she recorded. On the tape you hear a male voice making threats, you also hear the caller tell Henshaw she is "white trash." The caller goes on to say he's going to kill her dog and eat the animal, he also says he's going to send the sheriff to her home and have her arrested. Henshaw says the calls have caused emotional anguish, and she's even checked her daughters grave to make sure it remains undisturbed.

News 4 contacted the Federal Trade Commission to find out what debt collectors can and can't do while collecting a debt. Click here for more information about a consumer's rights.

Rumson, Bolling and Associates responded through an email, but declined an opportunity to explain on air. Here's a statement from company director Harold Bolling: 

Dear Chris,

Thank you for sending the audiofile. The sound quality is very poor and I don’t recognize the individual who is speaking. I haven’t been able to corroborate any of the assertions made about this case yet. Because the other voice is not part of the recording, it is very suspect. It resembles the kind of unfortunate communication breakdowns that occur when people are under tremendous stress. Both parties could ostensibly be dealing with stress and blew up at each other, lost their cool and ventilated emotions in a destructive way. There is no excuse under any circumstances for a debt collector to be anything other than professional. Some time ago RBA put into place a ‘scream line” to be used when and if collectors feel they are under attack. Collectors are routinely cursed at, denigrated threatened and endure racial insults. As opposed to hanging up which often makes matters worse, the collector under attack is instructed to transfer the call to a calm recording giving the debtor the opportunity to connect to a supervisor at any time during the recording. There are a lot of debt collection lawsuits going out there where debtors are solicited to sue collection agencies and it is very profitable for some career debtors to become professional litigants by laying in wait for the next collector to call and make a mistake. RBA requires that every single employee follows the FDCPA. Every employee has a copy of the FDCPA and has agreed as a condition of employment to follow it 100%. Employees receive FDCPA trainings. Employees that violate the FDCPA are terminated, suspended or re-trained. We will continue our investigation and get to the bottom of it. In the meantime please have the party in question contact me directly so that we may satisfactorily resolve this.

Harold Bolling

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