I am a law student who just learned of this company today (Jan. 5, 2007) because attorney Anne Thomas with Thomas Law Offices, PLLC froze my parent's bank account on behalf of Calvary Portfolio Services.
I have to wait until Monday to get a copy of the court judgment but I did contact the bank and was successful in having them fax me the information that Anne Thomas sent them to have the account frozen in the first place.
It turns out, someone living in NY has my dad's same name. That person apparently incurred credit card debt. Some how or another, we are checking credit reports now to be sure it's not identity theft, but Anne Thomas got my dads Social security number and filed a court action nearly a year ago (Feb. 2006).
Judgement was entered against my dad without either of my parents knowing. They were never contacted about any of this. My mother went to the bank on January 5, 2007 to make a withdrawal and learned that the account was just frozen this week. The bank said that they mailed a letter but she hasn't received it yet since it just happened and it was mailed from their corporate office in another state.
Long story short, the court document alleges that my dad works and resides in the state of NY and owes nearly $16,000 to this credit company called First USA from an account opened in 1996 and charged off in 2002. Of course my dad has never lived in or even visited the state of NY and has no clue what this debt is.
Cavalry violated several laws (as I'll explain below) because you can't file suit in NY unless the credit application was signed by my dad in NY. Of course, he signed nothing and has never been to NY. They also lied in the docs by saying that he was a resident and does business in the state of NY. They were also never notified of this alleged debt.
They've resided in the same home in the state of TX even before this account was apparantly opened in 1996. They have also had the same bank account, with a TX address on it for about the last 20 years. So there is no way that Anne Thomas could make the mistake of thinking that my dad is anyway associated with NY.
But long story short, Anne Thomas immediately faxed a letter to the legal department of the bank and a copy to me when I told her that she had the wrong person and that I was a law student. I noticed in the letter that she completely indemnified the bank - which is basically admitting that Cavalry & her law office made a mistake and will be responsible if my parents decide to sue the bank for any reason. However, the bank has yet to unfreeze their account because they said they got the letter too late in the day on a Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, not many consumers have the luxury of looking up the law and easily understanding it - so I'm going to give you some information to try and help now or in the future. Please be aware that I am not an attorney and am NOT offering legal advice.
THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT was created by Congress to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors. This federal law requires quite a bit, but I'm paraphrasing just a small portion below. You can go to http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm to read it in its entirety for yourself.
1.A Collector must notify a consumer in writing, within 5 days after contacting them by phone, of the debt owed and give them 30 days to respond before taking ANY action.
2Provide to a consumer that requests in writing, within 30 days of being contacted by the collector, the name and contact info of the original creditor. (so you can call and see if the debt is really yours and really unpaid)
3If the consumer notifies the collector in writing within the 30 days that the debt is disputed, or the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the collector must cease collection of the debt until the collector mails further info on the debt to the consumer.
4The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.
5A debt collector suing a consumer must sue in a judicial district where the land is located (if it's land/house), or in the judicial district in which the consumer signed the contract in question or where the consumer resides at the time the court action is started (for all other property like bank accounts, etc.) This means that if you live in Texas, they can't bring a court action against you in New York unless they are suing you on a contract that was signed BY YOU in New York.
6A collector can't collect an amount unless the amount is expressly authorized by the contract creating the debt or permitted by law.
7 Collectors can only accepted a 5 or more day postdated check if they provide the consumer with a written notice of their intent intent to deposit the check not more than ten nor less than three business days prior to the deposit. (in other words, they have 7 to 10 days after they give notice to deposit the check).
8.They can't deposit or threaten to deposit a post dated check early.
9They can't threaten a criminal lawsuit to get a post dated check from a consumer.
10.Collectors that violate these laws are liable to the consumer who's rights are violated in the equal amount of actual damage sustained by the consumer as a result of such violation. (in other words, if your account was frozen and you were charged $300 for bounced checks then they are liable for $300). Plus, a court may award additional damages that cannot exceed $1,000 upon just cause. A consumer can ask but it's at the judges discretion.
This is just a portion, and my interpretation of the law, as well. I'm not an attorney but you can certainly seek an attorney in your state if you feel that your rights have been violated. If you win, your attorney can ask the court to make the collector pay your attorney's fees. But be careful, because if you file a malicious suit against a collector that is not in good faith, you'll be forced to pay the collector's attorney fees.