$47 debt leads to federal suit

David Yates Sep. 13, 2007, 10:00am

Fed up with harassing phone calls from a collection agency over a $47 debt, Donnie Schakosky is suing NCO Financial Systems, Inc. He says the debt is not his and yet the company has called his work numerous times and ruined his reputation with his employer.

Schakosky, claiming NCO is guilty of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, filed his suit on Aug. 30 in the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, sometime in 2006, Schakosky began receiving calls and letters regarding an alleged debt he owed to Wal-Mart. Although Schakosky admits he has a Wal-Mart charge account, he claims he did not owe any charges. When he investigated the matter with Wal-Mart, he discovered that the charges were not his, but "were fraudulent, unauthorized charges made by his nephew's friend who had stayed in his house a short time."

Schakosky disputed the debt with Wal-Mart to no avail, the suit said.

"Wal-Mart assigned the account to NCO, which then began calling Schakosky and writing him to collect the debt," the suit said. "Sometime in the spring of 2007, NCO called Schakosky's neighbor and spoke with his neighbor's grandson�and told the boy that it was trying to contact Schakosky about a debt that he owed and harassed the boy for information about Schakosky's whereabouts."

When calling Schakosky's adolescent neighbors failed, NCO's representatives began calling Schakosky's place of employment, the suit said.

"On the first such call, Schakosky's boss, Mr. David Everitt, answered," the suit said. "The NCO representative told Everitt that they were calling for Schakosky to collect a debt he owed. Everitt told the NCO representative that Schakosky was not allowed to take personal calls of that nature at work and asked that NCO not call him at that number. NCO completely ignored these requests and continued to call Schakosky at his workplace. NCO's calls were repeated and harassing."

The suit goes on to say NCO's calls affected Schakosky's job performance and have caused him to suffer a loss of reputation with his employer.

"In conversations with NCO, Schakosky has disputed the debt and explained to NCO's representatives that the debt is a result of unauthorized, fraudulent charges," the suit said. "NCO's representatives have ignored Schakosky's disputes and have in fact threatened to sue him for this $47 debt."

NCO's representatives told Shakosky that it would report the debt to the credit bureaus, making it impossible for him to buy anything in the future, the suit said. "Further, NCO's representatives told Shakosky that it would garnish his wages from his employer if he did not pay the debt."

The plaintiff is suing for Deceptive Trade Act damages and actual and punitive damages, plus attorney fees.

He is represented by Matthew Probus of the Wauson Probus law firm.

Case No. 2-07CV-378

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