The Investigators

Feb 25, 2013 7:29 PM by Tom McNamara

BBB: 'Serious' complaints about hostile bill collectors

TUCSON - How would you react if a telemarketer or bill collector called your house and threatened to harm you? The BBB of Southern Arizona has gotten complaints about a company that consumers claim is doing this.

The company is First National Arbitration Services. They appear to be calling people seeking to collect an unpaid debt.

Jessica Islas says she felt harassed by a company that called her for months claiming she owed a debt.

"They were calling multiple, multiple times a day to multiple phone lines."

And she tells us the calls were aggressive.

"They were demanding that I provide my social security number. And when I refused to do so, they would get vulgar with me and say horrible things, like I was going to end up dead. Or they were sending the sheriff right that second to where ever I was."

Jessica says the caller demanded more information but when she questioned them about where the debt originated from they wouldn't provided an answer.

"I never knew. Because the second that I would ask for what is this about or who is this, they would immediately hang up on me."

And Jessica tells us she doesn't have any outstanding debts.
Her final straw? When the company found her grandmother.

"They were calling her on a daily basis, multiple times a day."

She filed a complaint with the BBB. As it turns out, Jessica wasn't the first. First National Arbitration Services has over 30 complaints on record with the BBB.

"Seventeen of the complaints filed against them, we have classified as serious complaints," says Nick LaFleur with the BBB.

Nick LaFleur says the BBB rarely classifies complaints as serious. In fact last year the BBB of Southern Arizona didn't issue a single serious complaint for any company.

So why so many?

"A lot of the complaints have clear allegations breaking consumer protection laws as far as it goes for debt collection," says LaFleur.

The Investigators called the company requesting an interview.

They told us they don't threaten people physically, but do threaten them with what happens if they don't pay their debt.
Good thing Jessica was aware of her rights. She didn't send any money. But some people did.

"I just think it's very important to stay vigilant and to not provide your information to anyone, no matter what they ask you for."

Click here for more information from the Federal Trade Commission for consumer protections for debt collections.

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection

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