Thursday, August 5, 2010

Relentless, Taunting Phone Calls From Loan Servicer Constitutes Illegal Harassment, Says Delinquent Borrower/Homeowner In Recent Lawsuit

In Jupiter, Florida, The Palm Beach Post reports:

  • A Palm Beach County woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer is suing her home loan servicer following what she said were relentless harassing phone calls that further harmed her health when she fell behind on payments. The suit, filed by Angela Birster, 45, along with her husband, Paul Birster, 47, accuses American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. of violating state and federal consumer collection laws, as well as intentionally inflicting emotional distress.


  • The Birsters, who live in a Jupiter Farms home they bought in 2002, say employees of American Home Mortgage Servicing lied about foreclosure sales being scheduled for their home, taunted them by saying they would be "living in the streets in 120-degree heat," and sent people to their home who wandered the property and took pictures.

  • On one occasion, the lawsuit says, Angela Birster collapsed in her front yard and had to be hospitalized after a distressing collection call. The calls allegedly persisted even after the Birsters sent a cease-and-desist notice requiring that communication go through their attorney.

  • "The company's conduct is outrageous, beyond all bounds of decency, and cannot be tolerated by a reasonable society," said Henry Hicks, lead attorney for the Birsters. "The thing about debt collectors is they know the actions that get the most results are threats and lies and intimidation, even if it's against the law."

  • Florida law forbids debt collectors from using abusive language, calling "with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to harass the debtor," and communicating with the debtor when he or she is represented by an attorney handling the specific debt case.(2) The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act includes similar language.

For more, see Terminally ill Jupiter Farms woman behind on home loan alleges collector taunted, harassed her.

(1) Reportedly, the Texas-based company requested that the case, originally filed in state court, be moved to federal court.

(2) See the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (Florida Statutes Chapter 559 - Part VI - Sections 559.55-559.785).

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