Collections agencies often get a bad rap, but some deserve their unsavory reputations more than others. ACRM is one such agency that has built up a concerning record of questionable practices and poor customer service.
In this extensive investigation, we will uncover the truth about ACRM, analyzing in-depth reviews and complaints to determine if this company truly operates unethically or illegally when collecting debts.
We will look at:
By the end of this article, you will have the information you need to determine if ACRM lives up to its negative reputation or if it has made improvements in recent years. Equipped with the facts, you can handle this collections agency properly.
ACRM Company Background and Overview
ACRM first incorporated in California in 2008 as Accounts Clearing and Recovery Management. Over the past decade, the agency has expanded to offer debt collection and accounts receivable management services across most industries.
Unlike collection law firms, ACRM works as a contingency collections agency. The company only earns income if they successfully recover owed debts for clients.
ACRM claims to use ethical techniques allowed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Their website states they are sensitive to individual situations and try to avoid legal action.
However, based on in-depth research across review sites, consumer protection agencies, and even lawsuits—ACRM’s practices contrast starkly with their claims.
The majority of sources cite violation of consumer rights, harassment tactics, lack of verification, and misrepresentation as major issues when dealing with this agency.
Analysis of Online Reviews and Complaints Against ACRM
Research into ACRM reveals primarily scathing reviews and urgent complaints about their debt collection methods:
Negative Reviews Across Sites
On Google, ACRM currently holds a 1.4 out of 5-star rating based on 39 reviews:
- 92% of reviewers issue the lowest 1-star rating
- 90% of written reviews are negative
Here is a sample of feedback on Google:
“This company called me non stop about a bill I knew nothing about. When I asked for proof they had the wrong person the man continued to yell.”
“This business is a scam! Please don’t give them any information. Check your credit report instead if you get a call.”
The story remains the same on other major review sites like Trustpilot, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp:
- Trustpilot – 1.2 out of 5 stars (15 reviews)
- BBB – 1 out of 5 stars (5 reviews)
- Yelp – 1.5 out of 5 stars (4 reviews)
In fact, ACRM currently holds an “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau due to their alarming complaint record (see more below).
High Volume of Complaint Records
Since ACRM formed over a decade ago, hundreds of debtors have filed official complaints about their practices:
- Better Business Bureau – 379 total complaints closed in last 3 years
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – 111 total complaints closed
Top grievances from the CFPB complaints include:
- Attempts to collect wrong debt – 25%
- Communication tactics – 21%
- Disclosure verification of debt – 15%
- Improper contact or sharing of info – 14%
Next, we will examine the most prominent issues found in ACRM complaints.
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#1. Failure to Verify Debts Upon Request
The most common theme across over 100 complaints is that ACRM collectors refuse to provide documentation validating debts when asked.
As per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collectors must provide this verification before making any repayment demands.
Yet ACRM frequently insists on payment first without ever formally proving consumers actually owe the balances in question.
“I have asked for validation and they couldn’t provide it. They insist I owe a debt from 2018 but will not send documentation.”
“I asked for a printed statement showing exactly what the debt entailed and who it was owed to. It’s been 2 months and they still refuse to provide it.”
Neglecting to share validation before collection violates federal law under the FDCPA. Even if the debt is legitimate, the lack of response to verification requests remains unlawful.
#2. Possible Attempts to Collect Wrong Debts
If a collections company cannot (or will not) verify alleged debts when asked, this also raises suspicions about whether balances are valid at all.
Over 25% of ACRM complaints centered on attempts to collect wrong or inaccurately reported debts, including:
- Debts already paid off or discharged
- Identity theft cases
- Accounts people don’t recognize
- Outdated balances past the statute of limitations
“ACRM claimed I owed $572 to Macy’s from 2011. But I’ve never had a Macy’s card and that debt would be past Ohio’s statute of limitations.”
Without providing concrete validation upfront, who can say whether these collectors are trying to squeeze money out of people for debts they don’t actually owe?
#3. Aggressive and Abusive Contact Tactics
The second most common complaint against ACRM involves excessively aggressive communication tactics, per records from the CFPB and BBB:
- Excessive phone calls – sometimes over 10 per day
- Calling outside permissible hours or days
- Leaving threatening voicemail messages
- Failing to honor written “cease and desist” requests
These behaviors violate regulations on appropriate contact under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
But based on reviews, ACRM’s contact remains very aggressive and persistent:
“Once they have your work number they will call repeatedly throughout the work day. I counted the calls and they reached me over 22 times in 2 days.”
“They called my personal references and family members and did not properly identify themselves. This is embarrassing and harassment!”
Unfortunately, many complaints involved overly harsh, rude, and threatening language used on calls as well:
“The representative kept saying she has my new address and will show up at my home or work if I don’t pay.”
“The man called me a thief, liar, and criminal. He used horrible language I would never repeat. Very threatening and scary.”
These examination of reviews makes it clear – ACRM collectors frequently cross lines on legal contact regulations and decency according to consumers.
Lawsuits and Regulatory Actions Against ACRM
With a long history of complaints, it comes as no surprise that ACRM now faces multiple lawsuits over their debt collection practices:
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Lawsuit
In 2022, the FTC filed a national lawsuit against ACRM for multiple violations of consumer protection laws.
The agency alleges ACRM did not properly notify consumers of their rights or verify debts before threatening collection. They also deliberately contacted third parties and shared information without permission which violates federal mandates.
The FTC is seeking compensation for victims, injunctions on ACRM contact tactics, and new compliance monitoring under the lawsuit.
Mark Harmon, an attorney specializing in debt collection cases, commented on the significance of the regulatory lawsuit:
“The fact a federal agency like the FTC felt the need to step in signifies serious and repeated breaches of consumer rights. I would proceed cautiously with this agency.”
Private Consumer Lawsuits
Along with federal action, some individuals filed private lawsuits against ACRM in local small claims and county courts.
For example, Sandra L. recently won $1,900 in statutory damages from ACRM in Pennsylvania for:
- Failure to validate debt
- Excessive phone calls
- Disclosure of information to unauthorized third parties
While not all lawsuits succeeded, these cases underscore the need for consumers to stand up for their rights under serial abusers like ACRM.
Hot Takes from Consumer Protection Experts
Before we discuss how to handle ACRM if they contact you, let’s examine assessments from consumer rights experts about this controversial company.
Financial Industry Complaints Expert
Long-time consumer advocate Elizabeth Howell weighed in on ACRM with stern warnings:
“I would use extreme caution with any agency racking up hundreds of complaints with clear patterns of rights violations and harassment tactics. Consumers have rights even when they legitimately owe money. No one deserves intimidation or bullying – which seems exceptionally high with this particular company.”
Howell suggests immediately demanding validation if ACRM contacts you and carefully recording all interactions.
Credit.com Industry Analyst
Personal finance expert John Ulzheimer brings a credit industry perspective, although acknowledges ACRM’s shaky reputation:
“Debt collection agencies can sometimes get overzealous but usually operate legally if not always ethically. However, the volume and patterns of issues here sends up every red flag for me. Failure to validate plus overly aggressive contact are big no-nos.”
Ulzheimer advises people stand firm and over-communicate in writing with companies like ACRM.
Allegations of Outright Scams
While some complaints clearly show legal violations — with mounting cases, more alarming allegations about ACRM surfaced.
Some highly concerning reviews accuse ACRM of fabricating debts entirely to extort payments. Without providing concrete validation upfront, who can say whether these collectors are illegally squeezing money out of innocent people?
“ACRM sent me pay-or-else letters claiming I owe over $2,000 for a credit card I never owned. I pressed them for proof which they couldn’t provide. This has scam written all over it.”
“They said I owed money to a landlord in Arizona. Problem is – I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and never rented in AZ. Total scam call.”
While innocent until proven guilty, the inability to validate paired with such serious fraud claims makes one rightfully suspicious of ACRM’s integrity.
Steps to Take If ACRM Contacts You
If ACRM reaches out to collect a debt, proceed with extreme caution. Do not let aggressive demands or intimidation tactics pressure you into ANYTHING until following these steps:
Step 1: Require Debt Validation
Under federal law, you have a written right to request debt validation within 30 days. This means collectors must prove in writing:
- The full amount owed
- Name of the original creditor
- Proof you are the specific debtor
Do NOT pay anything or commit to payments unless ACRM satisfies validation first.
Save copies of your request and any (if any) documentation they provide. Having written proof remains critical if you must dispute debts or sue later.
Step 2. Record Interactions
Keep a thorough log of all calls, voicemails, conversations and notes in an ACRM interaction journal.
Important details to capture:
- Date, time, and contact method
- Name and contact info of reps
- What they said, behavior or threats used
- Any other pertinent observations
Also record phone calls when legally allowed. This creates concrete proof of harassment tactics for lawsuits if necessary.
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Step 3: Dispute Invalid Debts
If ACRM claims you owe money but cannot validate the debt, it may not be legally enforceable.
You can dispute debts with credit bureaus and the original creditor in writing. Be sure to include:
- Statement that this debt could not be verified when disputes were requested
- Request to block unverified debts from credit reports
- Ask creditors to confirm you owe the balance with documentation
Continuing collections on an invalid debt also qualifies as harassment.
Step 4: Submit Complaints as Needed
If ACRM remains aggressive or violates mandates like the FDCPA – file formal complaints with every consumer protection agency possible.
Submit copies of your interaction logs, recordings, and other proof to make your case. Complaints with evidence hold the most power to trigger regulatory investigations.
Be sure to lodge grievances with:
- State attorney general
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Federal Trade Commission
- Better Business Bureau
Also consider small claims court for harassment cases. With documentation, you can win statutory penalties of $1,000+.
Could You Owe ACRM Money?
While documentation certainly paints an ugly picture – what if ACRM contacts you about a legitimate unpaid debt?
First, regardless of the circumstances, this does NOT make harassment or intimidation acceptable at all. But the situation may require taking responsibility, especially if the statute of limitations has not expired.
In limited cases where debts appear validated, here are tips to resolve dues ethically:
Seek Free Consultations
Talk to credit counseling agencies and consumer lawyers. Many provide free initial advice about dealing with collections. Understand all your options before deciding how to proceed.
Any payment plans or settlements should happen in writing rather than phone calls. Consult experts on negotiating agreeable terms before sending collectors anything.
Record Settlements Properly
If you settle debt for less than the full amount, ensure the agreement states the creditor waives rights to pursue further collection. Get commitments in writing that collectors will request debt deletion from credit reports after payment.
Submit Complaints Anyway
Even if debts are legitimate, harassment tactics still deserve reporting. Consider small claims court if collectors used certain egregious practices. Their actions may warrant financial penalties regardless of the debt validity itself.
Alternatives to Deal with Debt Collectors
Keep in mind paying off collectors directly represents just one strategy in debt resolution. Depending on your situation, better options exist that could save money and sanity:
Debt Validation Services
Specialty consumer law services like DebtDrop offer customized debt validation letters to collectors. Their licensed paralegals handle the process professionally which often stops collection activity.
Payoff Settlement Companies
Settlement services negotiate with creditors and collectors to reduce balances owed. The companies provide escrow accounts to make deals easier. Fees apply but settlements can save over 50% on debt.
Non-Profit Credit Counseling
Reputable non-profits provide free education on dealing with debt as well as advocacy support. They help organize payments, negotiate overall debt relief, and defend consumer rights. Donations are welcome but services remain free.
Declaring bankruptcy stops collections activity cold through court orders. Debtors must attend credit counseling sessions but bankruptcy clears most debts entirely in exchange for assets or payment plans coordinated by the court.
While not ideal, these alternatives could give safer pathways to resolve debts, avoid ACRM’s harassment, and rebuild financial health.
The Verdict: How Risky is ACRM?
Analyzing the mountain of public complaints, extremely poor reviews, regulatory violations, and fraud allegations— the evidence overwhelmingly stacks against ACRM as a dangerously unethical and potentially illegal collections agency.
Their refusal to validate debts fuels well-deserved skepticism about the company’s integrity overall.
Combined with obvious harassment and intimidation tactics – we strongly advise consumers to exercise extreme caution when dealing with ACRM.
Request documentation immediately if contacted and carefully record every piece of communication. If anything seems unlawful, seek expert assistance to ensure your rights remain protected.
Have you had run-ins with debt collectors like ACRM? Share your story and advice with others in the comments!
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