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Debt Collector Deception and Fake Flowers

I have seen credit card companies and debt-buyers use some pretty unusual tactics before but I just heard about a rather inventive if totally unethical tactic which was being used by a company called Westlake in California. Credit card companies and debt-buyers are usually looking to find where someone physically is for one of two reasons, either they want to hand deliver certain legal documents as required by law, or they want to find a car and take it to sell at auction.

Finding a consumers phone number can often be a lot easier than finding where they physically are. There are tools and resources available to debt collectors which make tracking down a consumer’s phone number trivial. Apparently Westlake has been calling consumers and pretending to be delivering flowers or pizza and asking where the consumer was, so that they could make the delivery. This is a text book example of a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) which explicitly forbids debt collectors from making false, deceptive or misleading statements as part of an attempt to collect a debt.

While we never want our clients to be harassed, as an attorney who deals with a lot of FDCPA cases this is the sort of case I wish I had encountered personally. This is such an egregious and ridiculous violation of the law that a judge may very well slam them with punitive damages.

I don’t imagine that many people reading this blog will have debt collectors call and pretend to be florists, that is definitely a new one, however it is not impossible. If you are being pursued by debt collectors and people call you and request your personal information or your location, use caution and be skeptical. Ask questions about who the person is before revealing any information.

For more details on Westlake’s activity:

This document has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any legal issues related to the matters discussed in this article as the applicability of state, local and federal laws may vary.