Arizona Consumer Sues Gurstel, Staloch & Chargo for FDCPA Violations.

My office recently filed suit on behalf of an Arizona Consumer again the Minnesota law firm of Gurstel, Staloch & Chargo, P.A. (Gurstel also has offices in Tempe, Arizona) for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The lawsuit alleges that Gurstel continued to attempt to collect the debt from the consumer even though she had previously sent them written notice that she disputed the debt and notice that she refused to pay the debt.

Collectors Must Stop All Collection Efforts If Consumer Disputes Debt.

If the consumer disputes the debt in writing sent to the collector within thirty days after receiving the initial written communication from the collection agency, the collector must stop all collection activities until it provides “verification” of the debt to the consumer. Here, Gurstel received the dispute letters and finally stopped its collection efforts for over four months before it began calling her again demanding payment and threatening legal action. Gurstel had never provided verification. These calls violated the FDCPA.

Collectors Must Stop All Communications With the Consumer if the Consumer Sends Notice That She Refuses to Pay the Debt.

The FDCPA provides protection from continued collection harassment if the consumer sends written notice to the collection agency or collection law firm that she refuses to pay the debt. Upon receipt of such a notice, the agency or law firm must stop all communications with the consumer, including letters and phone calls. It does not, however, stop collection efforts such as filing a lawsuit or reporting the account to the credit bureaus.

In the case just filed, the consumer notified Gurstel that the alleged debt was the result of fraud and that she therefore refused to pay the debt. The subsequent phone calls violated the FDCPA.