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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Lawsuits target area debt-collection firm


Trying to collect a debt in early June, a Toledo collection agency left a voice-mail message with a former in-law of a borrower, phoned the Illinois woman s mother, and even contacted her at work, the debtor claims.

This week, Larisha Weems, of South Holland, Ill., filed suit in U.S. District Court in Toledo claiming that United Collection Bureau Inc., 5620 Southwyck Blvd., violated debt-collection laws at least eight times. She is seeking unspecified damages.

Her suit was one of six filed in federal court in Toledo this week by debtors across the country against United Collection and more than two dozen since 2005, records show.

Many were settled by the firm, but at least 11 are pending.

Alleging violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, many of the lawsuits were filed by attorney Jeffrey Hyslip, who has offices in the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Mr. Hyslip didn t respond to a request for comment.

Neither Harold Sam Rickard, owner and chairman of United Collection, nor attorney Jeffrey Turner of Dayton, could be reached for comment.

The United Collection Web site said it is committed to complying with debt collection practices and places high priority on training debt collectors.

The firm has had headquarters in Toledo since 1959 and specializes in trying to collect on unpaid bills for health-care facilities, credit-card companies, and telecommunications concerns, as well as educational and governmental organizations, the Web site states.

United Collection has offices in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida.

The firm s Web site is unclear, however, about whether company headquarters is at the Southwyck Boulevard building or in Arrowhead Park in Maumee. The site lists the South wyck address but shows a photo of the Maumee building.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:gpakulski@theblade.comor 419-724-6082.

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