Action 9

Action 9 investigates debt collectors crossing the line

An Orlando woman thought she was going to be sued and a Winter Park consumer feared answering her own phone. Both women called Action 9 claiming debt collectors are chasing them for money they didn't owe.

Markisha Williams has paid off her debt, so when she heard the message on her phone it seemed unreal.

“I'm informing you we will be proceeding against you legally. We will proceed to have you served on property," the message said.

The debt collector said they were calling from Impact Mediation in Tampa. They threatened legal action if Williams didn't call and arrange payments that day.

She called, but they wanted her information first. “You want me to give you my Social Security number, when you won't even give me a mailing address?” said Williams to the person on the phone.

Ulla Pearson now has caller ID just to screen collection calls from companies that won't identify themselves.

She felt intimidated when she got calls from what she believes were fake debt collectors.

“They became extremely hard to handle, and I was in tears from a few of them,” she said.

Pearson did have past debts, but when she asked for evidence that she still owes anything, the person on the phone didn’t provide an answer.

“And I never knew what credit card they were talking about,” said Pearson.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, phantom debt collectors collect just enough information from victims to seem like a real threat, and many victims pay.

Williams feels the fake debt collectors are going too far.

“These guerilla tactics they're using can be extremely stressful," she said.

Consumer experts say you can make demands. Ask for the company's address and Florida license number.

“A company that's not licensed to collect debts in Florida cannot legally take action against you,” said consumer attorney Jared Lee.

Other red flags include threats to garnish a pay check or file a lawsuit.

“I want them to stop calling me,” said Williams.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich called Impact Mediation, and reached a phone room. No one would say where the company is located.

Consumers can report the calls to the Florida Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.