I went to look up information on the firm Lacey and her DH have dealt with and may still be dealing with:http://www.debtorboards.com/index.php/topic,6971.0.html
Here is what I have found so far:
James A. West, P.C. is apparently licensed only in TX and appears to NOT be a JDB. The contact information:
6380 Rogerdale Road, Suite 130
Houston, Texas 77072
Phone: (713) 266-9090
Fax: (713) 266-9125
Their website (note the URL):http://wildwildwest-law.com/
They are a CA law firm:http://wildwildwest-law.com/firmover2.htm
James A. West, P.C. has a complete collection division that is devoted to retail and business collections. Our strengths include our experienced staff and our quality control process. We have the best up to date computer abilities and extensive skip tracing databases as well as various methodologies that include segmentation by modeling and automated calling using these resources. Our niche is that not only can we collect accounts in the same manner as a regular collection agency, but with our litigation experience we review accounts to determine if the account is worth while to litigate, and follow through using all available means to collect on a judgment.
They have a reputation for NOT behaving themselves:http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/246/RipOff0246711.htm
(Take this source with a grain of salt, though.). An "Anoymous" from Houston, TX, posted on 5/3/2007:
I had disputed some only bills form AMEX and never received a response from them. I clearly stated that I disputed the charges and too show proof to each and every charge. I had some ex-employees that had frauduantly used my accounts. I did file police reports. Over a year later I receive a letter from the Office of James A. West, P.C. form Michael J. Young (they are really a collection agency - http://wildwildwest-law.com )....
[I asked for validation and this is what I got...]
I received almost 3 months later a copy of a credit card request that does not even state American Express on it. Non of the other documents were produced. When I called them, I was never allowed to speak to Mr. Yound or Mr. West.
Now they have filed a lawsuit.
Usually one would take ROR with a big grain of salt, but a further search in other sources are consistent with what you have reported as well as ROR. Like this report from "800Notes.com".
Their phone manners are, in a word, substandard:http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-713-260-7627
Real Annoyed - 14 Feb 2008
I get a call from this number at least once a day. I happen to know who this is because I had answered the call a couple of months ago and found out that it is a collection agency that Capitol One credit card had hired. I had been without a job for over a year, and when they started calling, they made it sound as if I was going to have a suit filed against me if I didn't pay immediately. I made the mistake of giving them my work number and now they call that number even though I have asked them several times not to. They call my home, work, and cell phone but they do not leave a message any time they call. I have no intention of ever answering their call again.
Caller ID: 713-260-7627
Caller: James A. West
Caller Type: Collection Agency
Aha...seems we may have some information about just WHO is the REAL CA here:
jeri - 13 Mar 2008
It is the legal department for United Recovery Systems, a collection agency. They will try to tell you that your account is in pre-litigation. And they will try to coerce you into making a payment or paying the debt off. However, do not be fooled. If you don't have legal papers served to you, it is NOT in pre-litigation. As a matter of fact, most of the people who call from that number only have high school diplomas and they make a 2% commission off of every account they collect on.
Caller ID: 713-260-7627
Caller: Atty. James A. West for United Recovery
In Lacye's case, her DH may or may not be close to being sued. However United Recovery Systems is bad news. For information on what their real practices are, Bud Hibbs' entry is a good place to start.
The contact information for United Recovery Systems:
United Recovery Systems
5800 N Course Dr
Houston, TX 77072-1613
Phone: (713) 977-1234 Fax: (713) 977-0119
Web site: www.ursi.com
800-326-3446 866 815-8000
using the name HOUSTON CONTACT
Hmmm...spoofed Caller ID, too.
This is just ONE consumer complaint to Hibbs' site:http://www.budhibbs.com/debtcollectorpages/united_recovery_systems.htm
July 2008 ...United Recovery Systems has gone a step further. They send you an "Official Letterhead" looking document from your credit card company stating, "Find a solution that's right for you." Moreover, they list 888-593-8401 as the contact number. Really a very nice letter, very encouraging as to helping you resolve your past due balance and work out a payment schedule...till you Google Search the number and find out exactly whom this number belongs to. ...The real “kicker’ with the letter is that they DO NOT list their address, or actual company, they just make the letter “look” like it came from Capital One. Pat Crenshaw, Executive Director, Account Solutions signed the letter.
Scroll down in that frame...and the West firm pops up.
A former collector for this company tells us that...West's actions and theirs follow the same muddy path (edited for clarity):http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/united-recovery-systems-c14170.html
469 days ago by Jordan Reeves
I agree with you totally as former employee of United Recovery Systems
I can tell you for a fact that yes we were told to tell debtors that they were refusing to pay there accounts, this is technique used to get most people talking so we can then say okay well if you're not refusing to pay your account then are willing to pay the balance in full today or make some kind of arrangement.
We went through this rushed training and was taught what we could say and couldn't say, and then when we got to the floor it was different story managers , would tell you that it more important to get the money they wanted a big fat bonus check.
We would call an account holder and speak to them they would give a reason why they couldn't pay and then turn around and call their The FDCPA laws states that if we make contact with the account holder we can not then turn around and call his relatives and friends associates neighbors John at the corner store to see if has any information.
Collections is a dirty game at URS. Oh you thing that you're getting fucked,but it was us the collector who was cause we as a collector are the ones who could get fined or sued by you the account holder personally and fired for doing what we were told to do. And then not to mention when it is all said and done you have compromised your morals and you think your fixing to get this big fat bonus check and they tell you no you didn't bonus or yes you did her is $120.00 for all your hard work. I have worked in collections for another for years, it was a good company we were appreciated the company didnt do these under handed things that URS dose. But know that you can file a complaint with the FDCPA if you feel that you're been harassed.
Dirty game, all right; This post from "Caller Complaints" shows just how dirty they can get:http://www.callercomplaints.com/SearchResult.aspx?Phone=713-260-7627
Filed by Spicewidow at 10/10/2008 11:34:34 AM
Caller Type: Unknown
Phone Number Report: A law suit being filed against a family member (gave a name) I did not confirm that I knew or did not know the individual. I was than told that a complaint will be filed against me for with holding information. I was also told the called was a detective.
Criminal threats and false information as to who the CSR is.
I would take THESE as more authoritative sources of just how well James A. West, P.C. behaves. Or doesn't
:"Fogelman, et. al. v. James A, West, P.C."
, NY Eastern District (Federal) case no. 1:2008cv00513 (2008) [This case, a class action, was discontinued by the plaintiff with prejudice after the defendants failed to appear, probably because they were never able to be served.]
(Ducking service?)"Breuer v. James A. West, P.C."
, Nebraska District Court (Federal), docket no. 8:2008cv00178
[This case ended in settlement.]
(complaints attached below)
URS was also sued in 2007 by someone with a lot more muscle than a mere consumer, the United States of America (the FTC):http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0023133/index.shtm
The press release about the consent decree (Government document, no copyright claimed):http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/04/unitedrecovery.shtm
Federal Trade Commission
Protecting America's Consumers
Release Date: April 17, 2002
Houston-based Debt Collector Agrees to Pay $240,000 to Settle Charges of Violating Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
First FDCPA Enforcement Action Specifically Protecting Spanish-Language Consumers
Houston, Texas-based United Recovery Systems, Inc. (URS) has agreed to pay a $240,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to resolve allegations that the company violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is the FTC's first enforcement action against a debt collection company for allegedly violating the rights of Spanish-speaking consumers.
According to the FTC's complaint, on numerous occasions, in connection with the collection of debts in both English and Spanish, the company's debt collectors communicated with consumers at improper times or places, engaged in prohibited communications with third parties, harassed and abused consumers, and used deceptive practices to collect consumer accounts. In addition to the civil penalty, the proposed consent decree to settle the FTC charges includes broad prohibitions on future FDCPA violations and would require URS to inform consumers in writing that they may stop the company from contacting them about the debt and may contact a special URS phone number or address should they have a complaint about the way URS is collecting the debt. The settlement also includes a comprehensive consumer complaint and resolution program under which every consumer complaint about URS collection practices must be thoroughly investigated and responded to by the company.
"Spanish-speaking consumers are a growing and vital part of America's economy. They deserve the same strong protection from abuse as other members of our society," said J. Howard Beales, III, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Regardless of the language they speak, the FTC will protect the rights of all consumers."
In effect since March 1978, the FDCPA prohibits abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. For example, in an effort to collect a debt, a collector may not discuss the debt with anyone other than the consumer and certain other persons, such as the consumer's attorney or spouse. In addition, under the FDCPA, collectors may not make false statements, use obscene or abusive language, threaten to take legal action they cannot or do not intend to take, call consumers at work if they know it is inconvenient or not permitted by the employer, or call consumers at other times they know to be inconvenient to the consumer, such as before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
According to the FTC's complaint detailing the charges, when attempting to collect debts in both English and Spanish, URS repeatedly violated the FDCPA by:
* Discussing details of the consumers' alleged debts with third parties, such as the consumers' parents, children, employers and co-workers;
* Communicating with consumers at times or places that the company knew or should have known to be inconvenient, including at the consumers' place of employment;
* Using language the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse;
* Falsely stating or implying that failure to pay the debt could result in arrest, imprisonment, or garnishment of wages; and
* Threatening to take action - such as filing a collection suit against the consumer - when the company did not intend to take such action.
The proposed consent decree to settle the allegations, in addition to requiring the $240,000 civil penalty, would prohibit the company from violating any provisions of the FDCPA in the future. Further, the proposed settlement would require URS clearly and conspicuously to disclose to consumers it contacts in writing that they may stop the company from contacting them about the debt. In addition, URS would be required to notify consumers that they may contact a special URS address or toll-free phone number if they have a complaint about the way URS is collecting the debt. To be clear and conspicuous, these disclosures must be made in Spanish when communicating with consumers in that language.
The proposed consent decree also requires URS to investigate promptly all consumer complaints it receives, take corrective action where necessary, and document in writing the results of each investigation and corrective action taken. Finally, the consent decree contains a number of reporting and record keeping requirements that will assist the FTC in monitoring compliance with the terms of the settlement.
This matter was handled by the FTC's Southwest Region in Dallas. The complaint and the proposed consent decree were filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Houston, Texas, today. The Commission vote to refer the complaint and proposed consent decree to DOJ for filing was 5-0.
The FTC has expanded its education efforts for Spanish-speaking consumers. The agency has a number of credit consumer brochures in Spanish including: "FTC FACTS: Fair Debt Collection"; "Credit and Your Consumer Rights"; and "Knee-Deep in Debt."
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent decrees are subject to the court's approval and have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. The FTC has free consumer brochures on over 150 topics, including many covering issues of debt and credit. Many of these are now available in Spanish. To request consumer brochures or to file a complaint, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or contact us at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Office of Public Affairs
Thomas B. Carter,
Southwest Region - Dallas
Spanish-Language Staff Contact:
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(Civil Action No.: H-02-1410 (sl))
(FTC File No.: 002-3133)...
Fair Debt Collection
United States of America v. United Recovery Systems, Inc. (So. Dist. of Texas)
Complaint For Civil Penalities, Injunctive, and Other Relief [PDF 13KB]
Consent Decree [PDF 23K]
Appendix A [PDF 6K]
Last Modified: Monday, 25-Jun-2007 16:14:00 EDT
I have attached .pdfs of the documents listed above.