Meet Gurstel Chargo, “Honest Americans” {updated twice}

{Update 9 August 2013: The Colliers appear to have dismissed their case against Gurstel Chargo. The Stipulation to Dismiss says in part:

2. Gurstel Chargo performed no action that was in violation of the FDCPA;

3. The telephone call referred to inthe Complaint and the central subject of this lawsuit was not made by Gurstel Chargo, any employee or affiliate of Gurstel Chargo, or anyone acting on behalf of Gurstel Chargo; and

4. Plaintiffs agree to take nothing as a result of this action and agree that Gurstel Chargo neither paid anything nor promised anything to reach this agreement and dismissal.


From Minnesota law firm Gurstel Chargo’s “what we do” page:

Our practice blend is uniquely designed to provide businesses with financial solutions and asset recovery. Our focus provides sophisticated and occasionally unlikely solutions to our clients fiscally driven matters.

From their meaning-free-mumbo-jumbo-laden “creditors rights” page:

We have developed sophisticated systems and instituted soft-touch collection practices that produce favorable results.

Gurstel Chargo’s response to a disabled veteran trying to recover $6,000 of ungarnishable money that Gurstel Chargo had garnished, after the firm had told a judge that the firm would release the money “right away”:

Fuck you! Pay us your money! You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces your ass. If you would have served our country better you would not be a disabled veteran living off social security while the rest of us honest Americans work our ass off. Too bad; you should have died.

(Courthouse News Service.)

An “unlikely solution”, sure, but “soft-touch”? “sophisticated”?

The veteran, Michael Collier, can now, as it turns out, afford a lawyer. Floyd Bybee of Chandler, Arizona, has filed suit against Gurstel Chargo for, among other things, violating the Fair Debt Collections Act. (Complaint.) Gurstel Chargo is being sued in eight other federal cases in Arizona, Minnesota, and Ohio.

The articles discussing this story describe it as a “debt collector”—which it is—but it’s also a law firm, which means it is held to higher standards. If Gurstel Chargo aren’t already facing grievances over this, they should be.

After all, accountability matters (that link is a must-follow web archive of the page that Gurstel Chargo took down right after I published this post).

{Update: Gurstel Chargo’s lawyer, Andrew D. Parker, says that the Scottsdale lawyer “acted professionally in all of his dealings with Mr. Collier and in the handling of this ease.” In light of the fact that the Colliers have amended their petition to omit the allegation that Gurstel Chargo’s Scottsdale lawyer had told them in the parking lot that they would need to hire a lawyer to get their money back (and that they now attribute that statement to the same legal assistant who told Collier, “fuck you!”), I have no reason to question Parker’s assertion. So I’ve removed that allegation and the unfortunate lawyer’s name from this post.

Parker is confused about who I had said made the “fuck you” statement. That sentence in my original post may have been written in a way that could confuse a careless reader; it should be clear now: it is the firm that Mr. Collier has alleged made the statement—an assertion, by the way, that Parker does not deny.

Parker also claims that my post “has resulted in threats being received against law firm staff.” I doubt that I have that sort of influence; I hope that I don’t. I suspect that it would be more accurate to say that treating a disabled veteran badly has resulted in threats against law firm staff. Which is itself unfortunate, but not attributable to my little blog.}

22 responses to “Meet Gurstel Chargo, “Honest Americans” {updated twice}”

  1. I am a recent (now past) employee of this law firm. FDCPA violations happen on a regular basis, and I just wish that more people knew their rights, because suit could be legitimately brought daily against the practices of this firm. They do not train their employees, and supervision of violations is not a regular practice until suit is brought against them. They are happy as long as the money flows in. Illegal garnishments are regularly sought and granted, and they simply have them reversed when they find out their mistake, without any thought to the harm that comes in the meantime (they tend to favor the end of the month right before many people’s rent comes due). There are good, honest attorneys that work there who are over-worked in a factory-style practice that does not allow them to properly supervise their practice, but the majority of the lawyers they hire are so young and inexperienced with no supervision or mentorship that they don’t know what they’re doing, and are under such considerable pressure from above to produce collectible judgments that they resort to questionable tactics with tacit approval from above, as is evidenced by the actions of the attorney in this case. Debt collection law firms like this one prey on the fact that people in general do not know what rights they have and are so in awe of legal papers served on them (and obviously in such dire financial straits) that they don’t seek legal counsel. And while I admit that there are many plaintiffs in FDCPA cases who are simply working the system, the vast majority of honest-to-goodness violation cases do not get filed because people do not know the law. It’s cases like this that raise public awareness and will hopefully give victims the knowledge to seek legal counsel when they are illegally harassed and intimidated by predatory debt-collection practices.

    • Wow — That’s a very stark assessment, and I can appreciate the commenter’s desire to remain anonymous. Given the awful story that brought this to our attention, I wonder whether this particular firm makes a point of going after wounded and disabled Service Members and Veterans?

  2. As a (very recent) former employee myself, with no such concern for “anonymity”, I can unequivocally state that the firm does NOT “go after wounded and disabled service members”. There are a plethora of tools utilized to identify, contact, locate, and collect on debts, but something targeting disabled vets is not amongst them.

    As a disabled vet myself, I would have taken a personal, burning interest in whistleblowing any such thing to every State AG, BBB, Congressman, and VA Rep in my Rolodex.

  3. Let me tell you how much they are hated for their nefarious questionable practices and how paranoid they are. At one of their nicer offices in a very affluent part of town, they keep themselves under lock and key, only greeting visitors through a small window. They also have a police officer stationed out front. Guilty as charged.

    • You have no idea about the dribble you post about. Their firm is a collection agency…what do you suppose they collect? Oh yeah, money which means they are like a bank and have similar security practices as such. Every collection agency in the country uses similar security protocols so this makes them guilty of nothing.

      And when did Golden Valley, a very middle class suburb become “affluent”. Compared to what? Maybe North Minneapolis so since I grew up in GV, I will have to start telling people of my fine upbringing! Haha.

  4. It’s obvious many who are postn across the internet have no idea what they speak of. My company does document support for law firms of which I have done work for Gurstel. I am no shill but have a far more accurate picture of the events then most so my opinion does have merit where many just seek to add inflammatory rhetoric.

    This firm employs around 200 people so when those say it shouldn’t have happened, they are right… Because it didn’t in the manner of which has been blogged about.

    Since the majority of bloggers don’t have a grasp of the civil process of a law suit, let me fill them in. To garnish someones bank account is the last step which would have been done over several months of repeated phone calls, written notices and then a summons served on them. At any time, the “debtor” could have contacted the collection agency and told them he was on disability and without a doubt it would have ended… Period. If he didn’t bother to contact them, then the collection agency would have NO WAY to know the funds in his wife’s account which in Arizona is a community property state, were from his disability payments. NOT THERE FAULT.

    As to the inflammatory supposed harassment from the collector, like all collection agency’s, they record ALL their phone calls so after it gets proved no such call was made, then I nooe all those who have been trashing this firm have the guts to apologize for their misguided posts but I doubt most have the moral fiber to do so.

    • David, ignoring your hearsay, when the banks stop devaluing our currency, and when they stop exporting our jobs, and when they stop misrepresenting what a college education will do under said conditions while overcharging for the “education” in the first place, then they MIGHT get paid.

      Until such time, stfu.

      And that goes for the young, crass punks who work at the agencies also. I’ve seen some, and they couldn’t get a job themselves except for one where they act like a punk. They are nasty little teenagers. I’ve seen them.

  5. This firm is going to get sued by me. They went after me for something I did not owe (I have a common name). I’m also bringing in 9 other people who had the exact same thing happen to them. We will be filing a class action suit for over $1M. Our attorney says he loves our case and is taking it on a percentage basis. Gurstel/Chargo illegally called our employment and inquired about us (this is HIGHLY unlawful) and requested information. We want other people to know about what this company does, and we are hoping for an excellent result in our case. Heads up for this company if they contact you…….they will do ANYTHING to get to you, whether it be legal or not. Just a friendly warning.

  6. I am being sued on a 20+ year old student loan and just got two collection letters in the mail from Gurstel Chargo — while the lawsuit is in final settlement stages and they are not attorneys on the case. Advice anyone?

  7. Obtained a judgment without service of process via a justice of the peace/justice court. Charging 14% interest when the legal rate is 10%. Illegally siezed every penny of my children’s child support payment and when I called and told them it was illegal they stated “I was right but not that many people know that”. And so they did it and do this to others hoping consumers don’t know the law. I did get the money back because I threatened litigation. They waited nearly 5 years to get a writ and now have renewed the judgment for another 5 years. They do illegal things knowingly and admit to it. They need to be held accountable.

  8. David, you are full of it. I am familiar with both civil law and Gurstel Chargo and you are mistaken. They DO brwak the law and have acknowledged doing so. They do not call, do not serve process legally in all cases and in my case, never called and sought to work things out. A judgment obtained in 2009 was not acted upon, at all, until 2014. The first notice I recieved regarding my husban’s unpaid debt was via my children’s child support, which is exempt in AZ, being stolen from them down to the last penny. The banking institution is also supposed to conduct a search on the source of funds in the debtors account to insure is is not exempt before releasing it to the creditor. If I had not known my rights and hadn’t threatened to sue they would have kept the money I assure ypu. Please see my above comment and do your due diligence before posting. Gurstel Chargo is notorious for their unscrupulous practices and have been taken to court numerous times because of it.

  9. being sued by gurstel chargo for 3rd party debt buyer on ssi ssa no assets only income 66 years of age chase bought wamu out had a wa mu visa chargo wrote in the summons i applied for and used a chase card not true it is not even achase bin number no card application no last billing date i defaulted with wamu they never mention wamu i answered complaint on a lot of reasons off the computer do i have a chance in court how do i answer disclosure houw much info do i tell please help
    they said in their beliefe and understanding i was married not for 35 years let thm know my situation asked to dismiss with predjudice anyone opiniopn please

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.