As long as there has been debt, there has been debt collectors like Ad Astra Recovery Services; the two go hand in hand. Debt is such an institutionalized part of most ancient and modern societies, that debt slavery – a practice whereby debt was passed from generation to generation – has often been an accepted component of this institution.
Debt collection has historically been an aggressive, coercive business; and before the abolition of debtors prison in the early 1800’s consequences for failing to pay a debt were often personally catastrophic.
Reasons for not paying a debt don’t solely fall on negligence. Other circumstances include financial hardship, disputes with the debt, unreasonable expectations in interest and penalties, unable to fix credit and failing health.
Considering the circumstances by which debt has accrued has contributed in a relaxation of laws against debtors over the past century, and affords them protection against negative and aggressive debt collection practices by creditors and third party debt collection agencies.
In September of 1977, Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which protects consumers from abusive debt collection practices. This law was passed in order to give the consumer protection from what was up to this point, aggressive practices by debt collectors.
Since that law was passed, the nature by which debt collection has changed for the benefit of the consumer. However, from time to time, agencies violate the law, forcing consumers to seek litigation against these agencies to protect their rights and fix their credit.
Who is Ad Astra?
Ad Astra Recovery Services (AARS) may be one of these third-party collection agencies. Ad Astra was founded in 2007 in Kansas, and is a collection agency, check recovery service, debt repayment planner, and payday loan service provider according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It is located at 7330 W 33rd St N #118, Wichita, KS 67205-9370. Their phone number is 316-941-5488.
In the past three years, both the BBB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have received over 420 and 380 complaints respectively, about suspected below board practices initiated by Ad Astra (AARS). At least 13 cases of federal civil litigation have been recorded against Ad Astra Recovery Services for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
An example of an alleged violation against Ad Astra can be seen in a 2013 case against them brought by a consumer in Illinois. According to the consumer, Ad Astra verbally abused and practiced intimidation in order to get the consumer to pay an outstanding payday loan that he insisted he never took in the first place. The case was later settled between the consumer and Ad Astra.
Many of those who have complained about Ad Astra, and probably even more who haven’t lodged formal complaints may have qualified to bring litigation against AARS for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Ad Astra collections and the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors to engage in the following practices:
- Contacting consumers outside of the hours 8:00 am to 9:00 over the phone, and any time inconvenient to consumers due to work schedules, family schedules, etc.
- Failure to cease communication after the consumer has requested in writing that the collector engage in no further communication or has refused to pay the debts (with exception for notification of termination of collection efforts, or intention to file a lawsuit against the debtor)
- Calling the consumer repeatedly or engaging a consumer in a phone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intention of annoying the consumer, abusing, or harassing him/her
- Talking to consumers at their place of employment, including telephone conversations after the employer has requested it to be stopped
- Contacting a consumer who is knowingly being represented by a lawyer
- Communicating with a consumer after he/she request validation and before the validation has been sent
- Misrepresenting the debt or practicing deception against the consumer
- Publishing name and address of the consumer
- Pursuing collection amounts that are unjustified
- Threatening the consumer with legal action or arrest
- Using abusive or profane language
- Sharing consumer debt information with third parties
- Using methods to communicate with the consumer that would personally embarrass him/her such as displaying embarrassing language on the outside of a mailed envelope
- Sending incorrect, intentionally false information to a credit bureau for the purposes of misrepresentation on the credit report
The FDCPA also requires creditors and debt collectors to adhere to the following requirements:
- Debt collectors must identify themselves as such and notify the consumer that they are attempting to collect a debt in every instance of communication
- The debt collector must provide the name and address of the creditor of origin
- The debt collector must inform the customer that they have the right to dispute the debt
- If the consumer sends in a request for verification or they dispute the debt, the collector must send the consumer the requested information
- If the collector files a lawsuit, it must be done in a proper venue such as the consumer’s residence or place in which the debt was initiated
The above requirements are just that — requirements. Violations of one or more of these requirements can be prosecuted under the law. Debt collectors like Ad Astra may also violate another law, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 as well, if the collector sends robocalls to a consumer’s cell phone without prior consent by that individual.
Suspected violations of either or both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is prosecutable. Consumers do have the right to pursue litigation against debt collectors who have engaged in unfair and unlawful practices in order to collect a debt.
If you receive communication from Ad Astra or other debt collection agencies, know your rights well. If you feel they may be engaging in measures that violate your rights, let them know that. If they continue, you have the right to lodge your complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and even pursue litigation. The Better Business Bureau has a publicly viewable website that shares all complaints against a business with the rest of the world.
Complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s website against Ad Astra Recovery Services include not honoring an agreed upon settlement, not honoring a Pay For Delete agreement, inputting incorrect information on a credit report, failure to provide proper debt validation, lying about debt payoff conditions, submitting a false collection claim, and many others.