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Contact 6 helps put an end to four-year debt collection saga

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Debt collectors can be pretty persistent -- as one FOX6 viewer found out years after paying off his debt! He called FOX6's Contact 6 to try to find out why the phone wouldn't stop ringing.

"I started getting calls at least every six months since 2009. It gets very frustrating -- especially when they call me at work. They call me on my cell phone and I have to say the same thing -- 'I gotta stop you there. It's been paid in full,'" Anthony Sherman said.

Back in 2006, Sherman got behind on his HSBC credit card bill. He owed more than $5,600.

"With having children and lack of work, my wife and I were going through somewhat financial difficulties, paying certain things off that we could," Sherman said.

The debt was eventually turned over to a collection agency called Southern Capital Associates. It made a settlement with Sherman for a final payment of $4,450.

"They sent me a letter saying that it's paid in full and closed," Sherman said.

Sherman moved on with his life.

Then, three years later, in 2009, Sherman got a letter from a different collection agency demanding payment of more than $1,300. Then, another letter, asking for $1,400. Finally, a third letter asking for close to $1,200.

"When I was looking at everything, I pretty much saw that it was the difference of what the original amount was to the settlement offer that I paid in full," Sherman said.

Sherman recorded one call where he was told an officer was en route to arrest him for not paying the debt!

Sherman explained he had proof the debt had been paid off, but the caller said "well, you've made your decision."

When Sherman asked for proof that the debt was still owed, the caller said he was not obligated to give any information and hung up.

"The last call that came in, I was sitting in here having lunch.  I put them on speakerphone and they were belittling me to the point they called me a deadbeat.  The first thing he said was 'we're gonna sue you,'" Sherman said.

Illegal collection tactics, according to Craig Johnson. As a member of the Wisconsin Collector's Association, he says bill collectors must abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act -- a federal law with guidelines all collectors must follow.

"Always ask if you're not aware that you owe a debt.  Always ask for validation of that debt and that should be provided by the agency that's contacting you," Johnson said.

Sherman does ask collectors for proof of debt, but so far they have refused to turn it over.

"He wants me to pay upfront over the phone.  And I wasn't about to because I know that it was paid off," Sherman said.

Sherman shouldn't be taking any more of these calls because Contact 6 has spoken with HSBC about this case.

The bank has agreed to contact the credit bureaus to delete the debt record once and for all, so that should put an end to this four-year saga.

If you have a debt and are getting calls from collectors, Contact 6 advises asking for written proof of the debt you owe.

Also -- answer the phone. Contact 6 says hiding from collectors is not going to make them or your money troubles go away.

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