Debt Collector/Law Firm, Gurstel Chargo, Allegedly Tells Disabled Veteran He Should Have Died Instead Of Living Off Of Social Security

 

“A Professional Association”

We have been following the story about a debt collector/law firm, Gurstel Chargo, and a disabled US Army Veteran. We wanted to ensure the story was accurate before we posted, so we waited until we received the court documents. We received the complaint today which was filed by Floyd Bybee, who is the attorney for the Disabled Veteran, Michael Collier, and his wife. Michael suffered spine and head injuries in the Army and was declared 100 percent disabled.

According to the complaint filed in the United States District Court of Arizona, Grustel Chargo, a debt collection agency, illegally garnished more than $6,000 from Michael’s wife’s savings account. Despite federal law stating that disability benefits cannot be garnished, Gurstel had Kim Collier’s credit union freeze her account, then seized $6,000 over a defaulted student loan Michael that hadn’t been able to keep making payments on.. The two went to court telling the judge that the monies were exempt from garnishment as they were disability payments,  the judge agreed. The court asked the attorney for Grustel when they would return the money, he replied “Right Away”.

After the hearing, Michael asked the Grustel attorney when he would be receiving his money back. The lawyer told him he would need to get a lawyer to get his funds back.

Michael then contacted Grustel by phone, and was told he would need to sue in order to get the money back. During this conversation, after he told the assistant that the funds were exempt Veteran disability payments, the assistant told him “Fuck you! Pay us your money! You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces your ass. if you would have served our country better you would not be a disabled veteran living off social security while the rest of us honest Americans work our ass off. Too bad; you should have died!”

 

The Colliers seek actual damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, conversion, privacy invasion, and malicious infliction of emotional distress.

 

The complaint filed with the Court is attached here. Collier-v-Gurstel-Chargo-Complaint (PDF)

 

Here is Grustel Chargo’s response to the law suit:

Statement of Gurstel Chargo October 15, 2012

We learned late last week of the lawsuit filed by Michael Andrew Collier and Kim Collier-Dingman.  Gurstel Chargo takes the allegations made in the lawsuit very seriously and we have immediately launched an internal investigation to determine the facts.  We are extremely disturbed by the allegations stated in the Complaint, as they are contrary to the policies, practices and values of our firm.   We expect that all Gurstel Chargo employees fully comply with all state and federal laws, and we thoroughly train our employees to perform their job in a lawful and respectful manner.  Under no circumstances does our firm tolerate the type of conduct alleged in the Complaint.

The Complaint states that the wrongful remarks were made during a telephone call.  We have requested from the attorney that filed the Complaint the phone number of the phone that Mr. Collier was allegedly on, an approximate date on which the call occurred, whether the person who made the alleged wrongful comments was male or female, all in order to help us to get to the truth about what occurred.  We have been informed by Mr. Collier’s attorney that he is unaware of any of this information.  To date, we have discovered no information to substantiate the allegations, but our investigation continues. Should these allegations prove to be true, we will take immediate corrective and disciplinary action.

 

You can read their response on their website also Grustel Chargo Website

 

We will continue to follow this story and update you as we get the information.

 

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14 comments on “Debt Collector/Law Firm, Gurstel Chargo, Allegedly Tells Disabled Veteran He Should Have Died Instead Of Living Off Of Social Security
  1. I am not a vet nor clam to be but have had a run in like this with these people when i refused to write a check to them on a closed bank account then they told me i should strong arm my mother for the money to pay them as well as threats of jail time for check fraud because this was a payday loan that went default yet they expected me to comit check fraud to pay the i hop this vet takes them to the cleaners and there froced out of business

  2. There’s a special place in hell for A-Holes that mistreat our veterans. And if it were in my power, I’d send them there in the express lane.

  3. Well I wanna hear the recording!! Per law they have to record the conversations… so… hopefully Collier’s lawyer will be asking for a copy!

  4. Inspired by this incident, I read an article recently about debt collectors and the fucked up ways they pursue debts. Many of these agencies actually have whole departments dedicated to recovering money from the dead, including getting it from those that have no legal obligation to pay a dime.

  5. I had a debt collection agency contact me once because my son’s telephone number used to belong to a guy who was delinquent on loans. I believe 100% that this is exactly what their person told to this disabled vet. During my experience the individual on the phone called me names, accused me of lying and threatened me physically. There are laws against this type of behavior, but that collection agencies know two things. Number one, they can always make it seem like the employee was acting on their own behalf and number two, they can act like they didn’t have any knowledge or condone of it when in actuality it is slyly taught to their employees as an “off-the-record” tactic. Why? Because it works 98% of the time. The other 2% when they are caught red-handed, the company will just disavow all knowledge of the action(like they are doing here). Additionally their press release goes very far in trying to prove that they have no information about when the call was made and who was involved. This is an old tactic trying to discredit the other side before they even get to court. They have the information, but if they make the vet look like he’s trying to lie about it then in the public eye, they gain credibility. Here was a guy who was just verbally assaulted and their “response” is to go on the offensive?! As if they weren’t enough of a doucebag company already!

  6. Aside from the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act…one this is constantly overlooked here. If Collier is 100% disabled his student loans could be wiped out. He would have to call the company his loans are through-file a forbearance and request a Deferment for Disability and once he provides supporting documentation of his disability the loan holder files a claim and his slate is wiped clean. The logic behind the procedure is that if someone is 100% isabled they cant work to pay off their loans–and their disability payments are considered non-garnishable income.

  7. Well in my experience in student loan collections, he doesn’t have much to go on. Per the fdcpa harassment is not defined thus the courts will only look at the frequency and severity of this harrasment case. 1 phone call, that should have been recorded by the vet, may not be enough for a large settlement. It looks be a private student loan/not government backed. Since attorney were handleing his debt. And yes disability can’t be garnished straight out of the paycheck I still think they can garnish your bank account. Now if the attorney’s office is found guilty of malicious infliction distress the vet could get a large settlement. It’s piece of poop collection agency’s all over that gives us law abiding agency’s a bad rep.

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