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KSL Investigators Help Taylorsville Woman Harassed Over Debt She Didn’t Owe

LouAnne Schwendiman shows KSL Consumer Investigator Matt Gephardt bills stemming from fraudulent use of her fuel credit card. (KSL TV)

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — Imagine being harassed for months to pay a debt that you do not owe. It happened to a Taylorsville woman, and when she couldn’t get the company to budge, she decided it was time to call the KSL Investigators.

It has been more than four years since LouAnne Schwendiman and her husband closed their audio/visual business and retired. Back then, they used fuel cards from EFS to keep their fleet gassed up, but those vehicles have long since been sold off. And those fuel cards?

“Got all the cards back (from employees) and shredded all of them,” said Schwendiman.

So, imagine her surprise when she got a bill from EFS. It read that one of the cards had been used several times over the course of a week in Nov. 2020 and that she owes $499.

“We knew it was fraud and we told them that right from the very beginning,” said Schwendiman.

Apparently, they were not listening.

“They just kept saying, ‘You owe this bill for $499,’” she said. “And the clock was ticking on the interest and it was really adding up.”

When she refused to pay, Schwendiman said the company’s debt collectors grew more and more aggressive.

“You could not get a word in edgewise,” she said. “It was just, ‘You have to pay this. You have to pay it now. You owe this money. I don’t care if it’s fraud, it’s your responsibility.’”

Sick of being badgered over a debt she did not owe, Schwendiman decided it was time to call the KSL Investigators.

“Collectors can only demand what’s contractually owed,” said John McNamara, a former debt collector who currently works for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as assistant director of its Consumer Lending, Reporting and Collections market.

The KSL Investigators told McNamara about LouAnne Schwendiman’s battle and said she was right in fighting back.

“The consumer should demand proof,” he said. “A legit collector will provide it. A bad one, or a scammer, will try to bully their way through the consumer’s concerns and keep demanding money.”

Continuing to try and collect while a debt is being disputed is actually against the law, according to McNamara. He said Schwendiman could file a complaint with the CFPB or the Federal Trade Commission.

But in the end, there was no need to involve federal regulators on this one.

The KSL Investigators contacted the company on her behalf and this time, the pushback stopped.

In an email, a company spokesman did not address the aggressive collection efforts or really anything else, writing, “As I’m sure you can understand, we cannot discuss the details of any of our customers’ (or former customers’) accounts.”

They did, however, talk to Schwendiman. She told us they apologized and waived both the debt and late fees.

She said she was glad to finally have the fraudulent debt resolved, but remains frustrated that it took a call to a TV news station to get there.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “I don’t want other people to have to go through something like this.”

So, what can you do if you are being harassed over a debt you do not owe?

You have 30 days after receiving a written notice of the debt to dispute it, if you believe it is wrong. Ask for verification, and if you believe it proves the debt is not yours, you can tell the collector in writing not to contact you anymore. By law, they must stop at that point.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the state’s department of consumer protection.

And you can sue the debt collection if you believe they have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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