On 12/26/06 I received 4 telephone calls from various individuals who represented themselves as being "Special Agents", "Detectives", "Security Officers" and "Loss Prevention Agents" calling on behalf of PetSmart. In each case the caller indicated I had passed "bad paper", "a worthless check", "a bum check", "a hot check", to PetSmart on December 1. The callers demanded a credit card or checking account routing number in order to settle the debt right then and there. Having no knowledge of the check, even if there was a check at all, I refused. The callers then threatened to seize my home, take away my vehicle, attach my Estate, etc. I was also referred to several times during the 4 separate conversations as "Girl", "Girlfriend", "Scarlett" and "Scarlett Baby". My name is Dr. O'Casey!
Each time the caller told me that if I declined to provide the information being demanded that a warrant would be issued for my arrest. At one point the last of the 4 callers informed me that he waw arranging for my immediate arest as we spoke...
The matter arises from a check in the amount of $24.64 which I issued to PetSmart on 12/01/06. That check was never even presented for payment to my bank until 12/12/06, at which time it was routinely paid.
Two of the callers insisted that I had been sent a letter which I ignored. I never received any letter and moreover, have learned that the reason I never received any letter was because the check cleared my bank (where I carry a balance in excess of 5 figures...)and was paid on December 12th!
Using Caller I.D., I had the telephone call traced and learned that it did not originate with PetSmart and moreover, that the callers were in no way affiliated with PetSmart and were, in fact, from an independent collection agency, Certegy Payment Recovery Sewrvices, who had purchased my check from PetSmart in error. As I stated the check was presented to my bank and was paid on December 12th.
I telephoned the collection agency at their office in Alabama and spoke to Kevin McGill, a supervisor. Mr. McGill told me that he was looking at a copy of my check and from what he could tell, it hadn't been through my bank and also, that it appeared the check was paid already.
He informed me that I had not been called 4 times. He stated his company used an automatic dialing system and I had only received I call. I told him his people were rude, menacing and had made repeated threats on me. He said he would listen to the redording of the one call he admits I received to see if anyone had broken any rules. I also informed him that no one asked me if I wanted the conversation recorded until the very last call.
I telephone the Security Department at PetSmart and was advised that Certegy did collect some of their returned checks but mmine was not one of them because my check had been paid. They also send me a copy of the actual check, which i took into my bank and was assured by the Manager that the check had never been presented for payment until December 12th, at which time it was paid without incident.
Certegy contacted me 4 times within 9 hours and threatened to extort not only the face value of the check.i.e., $24.64, but an additional $35.00 "service" charge, under threat of arrest and imprisonment, when all the while they knew the check was not returned and had, in fact, been processed and paid.
I have lodged a complaint with the Bureau of Collections & Investigative Services, a Federal agency, charging Certegy with violating the Rules & Practices governing collection agencies in the State of Arizona. They are not allowed to threaten anyone with arrest, they have no authority to issue arrest warrants, they cannot attach assets without an order of Court, and they may call only ONE time in a 12-hour period. Also, before a call can be recorded, the caller must inform you that the call will be recorded and secure your permission therefor.
I have received an apology from the Security Department at PetSmart but have received no such apology from Certegy. I cannot even get Mr. McGill to return my telephone calls.
I advised PetSmart that their collection agents represent they are calling on behalf of PetSmart. This is not true, of course, but I wonder how many customers PetSmart has already lost because of these collectors and their 'strong arm' tactics. I will certainly keep this in mind the next time I have to write a check to cover my purchases at PetSmart... If I ever make any purchases at PetSmart again...
Tucson (Saddlebrooke), Arizona