Lawsuit alleges Kansas debt collector made racial rants, threats - KCTV5

Lawsuit alleges Kansas debt collector made racial rants, threats

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A lawsuit by a Missouri man alleges racial, expletive filled rants and threatening messages were left on his voicemail from a Kansas debt collection agency.

"I was so worried I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't think," said Calvin Williams, the victim of the reported calls.

Williams said he started to receive hateful, abusive and deceptive messages from National Credit Adjusters, LLC, in last August.

Previously, he took out an internet payday loan with another company. Court papers state NCA called Williams to say they owned the debt originated with a payday loan business, and he need to pay them money.

There was one voicemail message turned over by Williams that was filled with repeated racial slurs against African Americans.

Court papers allege the debt collector repeatedly referred to Mr. Williams as "you people."

"When I first heard that I cried that night," said Williams. "I couldn't sleep."

Williams immediately sent money to the company after some of the messages, but he says the calls didn't stop from NCA.

While KCTV5 News could not detail the full transcripts of the racial charged message, here are two other messages that he received:

"We need to get some type of payment in right now, soon as we can get it, or else I will have to send local authorities to your address to see about locking you up or collecting some type of debt that you owe us…"

"We hope you enjoyed your Christmas because this might be the last Christmas for you if you don't even make a payment or even get this debit taken care of…"

Kansas City consumer attorney Lee R. Anderson is part of the legal team fighting NCA in court.

He says the two things debit collectors can't do to consumers is use racial epitaphs to bully consumers and threaten to have people arrested.

"It wasn't just one person, who was saying things no consumer should have to hear, which suggests that is a pattern of behavior," said Anderson about the different debt collectors' voices on the messages.

Anderson said they have not been provided any information to show NCA even has the right to collect on the debt.

KCTV5 investigative reporter Eric Chaloux went to NCA's headquarters to get to the bottom of the messages left on Williams' machine.

"I'm trying to talk to a manger," asked Chaloux. "Are you a manager?"

A man who identified himself as Mark, who is believed to be an attorney for the company, quickly asked Chaloux to step outside their call center.

"Mark, I want to talk to you about some messages your call takers left on (Williams') machine, look at some of the words right here," Chaloux said

While Chaloux showed him transcripts found in court documents of the racist message, Mark told Chaloux the company had no comment.

"Do these employees still work for you guys?" said Chaloux. "Is this the kind of business you are running?" Chaloux got no additional response as Mark walked back into the building.

Later, another lawyer provided KCTV5 News with a response to Williams' allegations.

"NCA is committed to conducting business in an ethical and professional manner and in a manner that complies with all applicable laws and regulations," said Richard P. Cassetta, NCA attorney. "NCA does not condone the use of any racially insensitive or abusive language."

KCTV5 dug through public records and found NCA has been investigated by the attorney general's in Kansas and Arkansas.

Through a Kansas Open Records Act request, KCTV received an assurance of voluntary compliance that NCA agreed to with the Attorney General.

It read in part, "the Attorney General alleges that Respondent (NCA), while engaging in the practice of debt collection, committed deceptive and unconscionable acts and practices in violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act."

NCA denied any wrong doing with the Attorney General, but in the agreement paid the state $40,000 along with a promise to comply with debut collection rules.

In 2013, Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced he reached an agreement with NCA that required the debt collection company to stop attempting to collect on certain kinds of payday loan debt in the state, which is void under Arkansas law. The company paid the state $200,000 in the agreement.

Meanwhile, for Williams, the cruel collector calls have finally stopped. He has since filed suit against NCA for violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

"If I'm getting attacked, no telling who else can get attacked, and I want to help save people, and protect people from this happening," Williams said

"Regarding the allegations made by Mr. Williams in the pending lawsuit, NCA does not believe there is any legal or factual merit to those claims, and NCA is vigorously defending the lawsuit," Cassetta said.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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