12 On Your Side: Fake debt collector harassment

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman says she's getting tormenting calls from a bill collector - for her deceased brother. We investigated after she called 12 for help stopping the harassment.

Cheryl Tolliver says each call concerning what she believes is a bogus debt, causes her to relive her brother's death. She wants them to stop.

People are protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The first call was a message left on her phone. The second call Cheryl answered. On the other end, a company called Process Server Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts.

"I told her that my brother was deceased and she ignored it," said Cheryl.

Cheryl asked the caller, how did you get this number? Cheryl says her brother was dead when she got her current phone number. Gregory passed away March 2011.

She demanded the caller stop calling but got another dismissive response.

"She can call anytime she wants to. I felt offended and violated," said Cheryl.

I tried contacting the company for a response. I dialed the numbers that showed up on Cheryl's phone - the call goes nowhere.

Cheryl got 20 calls over two weeks. She requested a statement but got nothing in writing. She did get a message threatening legal action against her deceased brother.

"A restraining order that's going to be put in place within 42 to 78 hours if my brother or his attorney does not return their phone call," said Cheryl.

Online, I found many complaints linked to one of the numbers. Someone writes, "Called back, can't get in touch with anyone." Another said, "I have a pending restraining order... and do not believe this company, don't send money."

"It's also iffy as to whether or not they're in Boston," said Tom Gallagher with the Better Business Bureau. "I mean, it could be a mail drop. It could be anything. Heaven only knows where they are. The BBB is reporting is that the company appears to be out of business. If they were in business, they would have earned an F report."

It may be an attempt to get Cheryl to send money blindly.

"It may be but, they got the wrong one," said Cheryl.

The FTC says here's how to identify a fake debt collector: if the caller refuses to give a mailing address, asks you for personal information, uses high pressure scare tactics, and wants payment on a debt you don't recognize.

Call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or online at ftc.gov to file a complaint.

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