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Posted by: Erik Clark
Over 20 million people live in one of our country’s biggest regions, metropolitan New York.
Unfortunately, New York City has been hard hit by the coronavirus which is a threat to public health as well as the economy. The economic impact of COVID-19 shutdowns could put millions in dire straits financially, and sadly, many of these cases will be found in New York and New Jersey.
And where there is financial misery, there are debt collectors.
Who are the Big Apple’s most prolific debt collectors? Are they the major players in the debt collection landscape, or are they regional agencies that, although not as big as the national companies, have a reputation locally as debt-collecting machines? Let’s look at a few of them and see if they are as notorious as the big guys.
Debt Collectors NYC: Who to Know
With over 166 New York State collection agencies, there are many to choose from and many to analyze, so the following will be a small sample of regional agencies. The four that we will review are The Schutzer Group, PLLC; Accounts Retrievable System, Inc.; Collection Bureau of Hudson Valley, Inc.; and Statewide Credit Services Corp.
The Schutzer Group, PLLC
This collection company is a law firm based out of Manhattan and run by attorney Eric Schutzer, who also is the president of TSG Collections, LLC. TSG is located in Englewood, New Jersey.
Reports of Abuse
No stranger to controversy, TSG Collections was on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit filed in May 2017 by a New York woman alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In her suit, she claims that the collectors threatened her and failed to disclose required information in its letter to her among other unsavory collection practices that are all too common, including threatening to sue her in order to scare her to pay back her debts. A summons has been issued.
The Accounts Retrievable System, Inc.
This company has been in business for over three decades as a New York collections agency. Their president is Harold Rosenblatt, who has been in this top role since the company’s 1987 inception. With over 30 years of debt-collecting experience, what, if any, violations have Accounts Retrievable System been accused of?
Reports of Abuse
Accounts Retrievable System has had a few lawsuits filed against them over the past decade for FDCPA violations that were mediated and settled; however, they seem to be free from some of the major violations that we see with similar collections companies out there. As with many of the stringent requirements imposed by the FDCPA, it is not uncommon to run afoul and receive complaints. However, there do not appear to be any major issues with their president and any of his collection practices.
Collection Bureau of Hudson Valley, Inc.
The president of CBHV is Eric S. Najork, who has been with the company since 1998. Debbie Dirubbio is the collection manager and joined CBHV in 1993. They collectively bring over 38 years of collections experience to the company.
Reports of Abuse
CBHV is the subject of a certified, pending class-action lawsuit Oslan v CBHV under the FDCPA for allegedly sending false and misleading letters out to hundreds of people claiming that merely paying their debt back would restore their credit and credit score instantaneously. This is a serious violation, considering that credit repair generally is a long and difficult task — there is no quick fix to improve your credit score. Pre-trial scheduling in this case is currently underway.
Statewide Credit Services Corp.
Statewide Credit Services Corp. is run by Michelle Schwartz and has been in business since 1989.
Reports of Abuse
Also subject to a class-action lawsuit, Statewide Credit Services Corp. was accused of violating the FDCPA for not providing adequate validation notices along with threats of immediate court action when they were not authorized to file lawsuits by the original creditors. Like our first NYC debt collector reviewed in this post, these threats of lawsuits are considered a major collection violation. A class-action settlement was granted in March 2007, with notices mailed to 624 class members.
Bottomline: Protect Yourself from Debt Collectors in NYC
As with the major national collection companies, local and regional companies are no stranger to the shady practices of debt collection and bending the rules set out under the FDCPA. All four we’ve discussed in New York have been subject to lawsuits or class-actions pertaining to their collection activities. In addition to their actions, they are shrouded in secrecy — much like their bigger national counterparts.
The State of New York has comprehensive debt collection regulations, most of which do not apply to the original creditor nor to business debt, but do apply to third-party debt collectors or debt buyers. If you are being contacted by any of these agencies or law firms, you should read the collection laws in your state and be armed with the knowledge to protect yourself from the shady practices of these firms.
Bankruptcy also may be an option. It stops debt collectors in their tracks through something called the automatic stay — meaning no more annoying phone calls or harassment, so you can get on with your life and get your finances back in order. We have several member attorneys in New York who can help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you, or if you’re in another state, you can check out our general bankruptcy attorney directory.
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Erik Clark is one of the leading bankruptcy attorneys in Southern California who has had the privilege of representing thousands of clients in chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in the Los Angeles area. Erik has served as the past President of the National Consumer Bankruptcy Litigation Center (NCBLC) and the American Consumer Bankruptcy College (ACBC). His firm, Borowitz & Clark, is committed to using bankruptcy law as a tool for social justice and was one of the first consumer law firms to join the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.