Woman sues collection agency for pretending to be lawyers

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 13, 2006, 4:04pm

A woman who failed to make payments on her Citibank credit card filed suit against a collection agency in federal court claiming they violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Kathy Lynn Barnett of Robinson, Ill. claims United Collection Bureau of Toledo, Ohio violated the FDCPA by calling her at work after she told them she was not allowed to receive calls at her place of employment.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois Feb. 13, Barnett defaulted with Citibank in early 2004 prompting them to hire United to collect the debt.

Barnett claims that on May 10, 2005, an employee of United named "Miss Jones" left a message with her secretary to call United's legal office about a "very important matter."

"The secretary could understand from Miss Jones message that the call was an attempt to collect a debt owed by Barnett," the complaint states.

Barnett claims she returned the call and Miss Jones informed her that she was a representative of the legal office Citibank retained to collect a debt, but she could pay $900 to stop the pending court proceedings.

"Miss Jones is not an attorney licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction and United Collection Bureau is not a law firm," the complaint states.

Barnett also alleges Citibank did not have a pending lawsuit against her when the call was placed.

She claims United also violated the FDCPA when one of its employees misrepresented the facts by implying that a law firm was calling and that there was a pending lawsuit.

Barnett also claims the FDCPA was violated when a message was left with her secretary in order to collect the debt.

Represented by Roy Jackson Dent of Brankley & Smith of Charleston, Barnett is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for actual and statutory damages, attorney fees and litigation expenses and costs and other relief the court deems appropriate.

The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phil Gilbert.


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