It's bad enough trying to squeeze $102 out of a guy who doesn't owe you. But relentlessly harassing him fixes you firmly in the Rogue pantheon.
That appears to be the case with Debt Recovery Solutions LLC. The Westbury, N.Y.-based debt collection company spent two years hounding Randy Haak, a quality-assurance engineer from Rainier, Ore., for $102 he says he didn't owe.
The alleged debt was for a Sprint phone bill in Lincoln City, Ore., where Haak says he never lived. That didn't stop Debt Recovery Solutions from, in Haak's words, doing "just everything to try to harass and make my life miserable."
The 51-year-old father of five got his first phone message from DRS at the beginning of 2005. The 22-second message said in part: "Hi, this is Nancy Miller. I've tried to reach you for a while, but I keep on missing you. Do me a favor. Give me a call at 1-800-807-4106."
Haak says he called, gave the last four digits of his Social Security number, and was told it was all a mistake—a different Randy Haak owed the money.
But the same message reappeared on Haak's phone more than 200 times, an average of twice a week for more than two years. Haak filed a class-action suit May 2 in U.S. District Court in Portland under the 1978 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which both prohibit harassment by phone.
About 26 percent of consumer complaints at the Federal Trade Commission last year involved debt collectors—90,629 in all. The state Attorney General's Office received 483 complaints about debt collection agencies last year, making the industry the fourth-largest generator of consumer beefs. "They're totally out of control," says Jan Margosian, spokeswoman for the AG.
Meanwhile, like an actual bad debtor dodging a creditor, Debt Recovery Solutions didn't return repeated phone calls for comment.