Offensive voicemail leaves Valley man outraged

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PHOENIX - “Well, I guess you black folks or spooks or whatever you're called don't pay your bills,” a so-called process server named Jim Roberts said in a voicemail.

It's a message that still has Lorenzo Shepherd shaken up.
“I mean it really hurts. I done been in the military, I done been around the world and I've never been called nothing like that,” he said.
Lorenzo says the message was left by a process server hired by Fast Auto Loans, a title loan company located on Bethany Home and 35th Ave. in Phoenix.
Earlier this year, Lorenzo says he lost his job and was desperate for money to pay bills.
That’s why he says he took out a $1,500 title loan on this car through Fast Auto Loans. The interest rate was 180%.
While he admits to falling behind on his payments, he says that's no excuse for this kind of harassment.
“And that's why people like me have good jobs to go after you scumbags that are low-lifes like yourself and like Mr. Lorenzo,” the voicemail said.
The message was actually left on Lorenzo's former boss's cell phone.
Lorenzo says he listed Bobby Holeman's name on his title loan application, and when Lorenzo stopped paying, Bobby began getting calls.
“I understand that Mr. Shepherd went into default on his loan,” Bobby said. “But that's just outrageous.
Both men say they tried contacting Fast Auto Loans and the process server who goes by the name Jim Roberts.
We did too, but the phone number on his business card is out of service.
3 On Your Side visited Fast Auto Loans and left a message for the manager.
Once Fast Auto Loans found out about these racist remarks, you’d expect they would want to take some action and cut ties with this process server, but they refused to talk to us.
Here's what an employee had to say over the phone:
“I spoke to our lawyers in the legal department. So, they basically told me to tell you guys if you guys call or if you guys come in to tell you to stop calling and stop coming in.”
Lorenzo Shepherd knows the feeling well - wanting someone to stop calling, or at least stop leaving abusive messages like this on his voicemail.
“You got that? I hope you can put that in your head and understand it because you people ain't smart at all.

You don't do anything, you don't work, you're a bunch of low-lifes,” the message said.

Shepherd says since that voicemail, he hasn't heard from Fast Auto Loans or that so-called process server again.

3 On Your Side contacted several agencies to find out more about this process server, but no one had any record of a Jim Roberts.
A debtor who knows his or her rights can go a long way in getting collection agencies to back off, and if needed, obtain a money judgment against the collection agency.  Here are some of the basics from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"):
1.     No Harassment or Abuse: 
·         NO threats of violence or harm to person, reputation or property
·         NO abusive, obscene, or profane language
·         NO abusive phone use (conversations or ringing)
·         Collector MUST disclose their identity
2.     No False Statements:
·         as to the character, amount or legal status of the debt
·         that the collector is an attorney
·         that the collector is a government representative
·         that the collector is affiliated with a Credit Bureau
·         that the debtor has committed a crime
3.     No Unfair Practices:
·         NO interest, late fees or collection charges unless authorized by original debt or allowed by law
·         NO acceptance, solicitation or depositing of post-dated checks to create prosecution
·         NO nonjudicial dispossession of property unless legal
·         NO collection language or symbols on envelopes
·         NO collect calls, telegram charges or postcards
The bottom line: A collection caller cannot say anything he or she could not say in front of a judge. If collection agencies have crossed the line, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides for compensation to the targeted debtor. The Arizona Fair Debt Collection law loosely follows the FDCPA.