Dear ABC News Fixer: On Nov. 15, I received a call from a company called Affirmative Litigation Group, claiming I owed a debt of $539.95 to a bank in Delaware, supposedly from 2007.
I have never had any accounts or credit cards with this bank. The guy refused to send me documentation to verify the debt. He could not give me an address of his company, and he told me his job was to verify my information so they could send me a summons for court! He said he would settle the debt if I paid $276. He also claimed they would get a restraining order so I could not communicate with the bank I supposedly owed money to.
A week later, he called again. Again, I asked for his contact information and the address of his company, because when I did online searches on it, the only thing I found were other people complaining. He eventually gave me a Web address which led me to the City of New York Law Department’s website. I called there and was referred to the office of the New York Inspector General, where I was informed that they had gotten other calls from consumers. I filed a formal complaint and gave them all the info I had.
The point of all this is just because someone claims to be a debt collector does not mean they are. You have rights, and they have rules to follow. If it seems fishy, ask questions. Identity theft prevention starts with us all using common sense.
- Joshua Herman, Surfside Beach, S.C.
Dear Joshua: Thanks for the heads-up. You told the ABC News Fixer you were certain you had no bad debts because you’d just looked at all three of your credit reports. And this supposed debt collector wasn’t following a basic requirement of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is to send you a written verification of the debt.
Our curiosity was piqued, though, so we decided to call the phone number you had for Affirmative Litigation Group. It’s a toll-free number somewhere in North America. As soon as we said the words “ABC News,” the line went dead.
So we called again, and this time a man identifying himself as Eric, head paralegal, picked up. Eric said his company specializes in “forceful recovery solutions” and he claimed you would be getting a summons in 2-1/2 to three weeks (you still haven’t gotten anything). He said the debt could be from a payday loan, a credit card or identity theft – he didn’t know.
When we asked Eric for his company’s Web address, he said it’s www.affirmativelitigationgroup.com – but as we typed in that address, Eric warned us that their website was down because “our server crashed.” Oddly, though, when we later searched for that domain name on GoDaddy.com, we found it didn’t exist -- but we could purchase it ourselves for $11.34.
(As an aside, we could see how you and others ended up at the New York City Law Department, because when you search for AffirmativeLitigationGroup.com in Google, there’s no website for the company but the third listing is for the New York City Law Department. The Law Department has now posted a notice on its home page alerting consumers that the calls aren’t coming from them, and Malachy Higgins, chief of administration for the department, told the ABC News Fixer he’s collecting complaints. CLICK HERE for more info.)
At this point in our call with Eric, he said he couldn’t give us any more info without a case number, so we called you back and got it. We immediately called Eric back and hilarity ensued: