A South River, N.J., man claims TD Bank drained the last of the money donated into an account set up for his terminally ill daughter, then hounded him with creditors looking to collect on overdraft fees.
Andrew Cogswell's saga with TD Bank began in the spring of 2010 when the Brick Township Policemen’s Benevolent Association held a basketball game for his 6-year-old daughter, Kelly, who requires costly, around-the-clock care. The group's charity game raised $20,000 for Kelly's nursing care, The Star-Ledger reports.
Organizers took the funds to a local branch of TD Bank, opened an account and deposited the proceeds, the newspaper reports. However, when the balance dipped below $500, the bank began assessing a $25 monthly fee. The fees ate up the remaining funds, then sent the account in the red, at which point Cogswell started accruing even more fees. Although a bank official said the debt had been canceled, a year later the family started getting calls from a collection agency.
In October, Cogswell drafted a letter to the media and posted it to his Facebook page. On Oct. 18, The Star-Ledger reached out to TD Bank on Cogswell's behalf, and two days later a bank representative apologized, refunded the money and canceled the debt.
But Cogswell isn't the only person struggling to find relief from financial crises in the middle of even more pressing family emergencies.
Texan Alicia Ramirez found herself battling for her house, and battling cancer after her illness caused her to fall behind on mortgage payments this year. The 78-year-old woman, who had earlier lost her husband to cancer, struggled to find the money to repay the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"It wasn’t my fault... I was in the hospital," she told News 4 WOAI.
In July, Cindi Davis, a North Carolina woman diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, also found herself about to lose her house after choosing to pay for her treatment over her mortgage payments.
As the Cogswell family found out, sometimes media scrutiny can help force companies to fix an issue after all the help lines and customer service associates fail. Such was the case for Carol Scott, a Time Warner Cable customer who battled charges to her account for 17 pay-per-view porn films. Scott only found closure once a Los Angeles Times columnist stepped in on her behalf.
Also on HuffPost:
'Do You Want To Pay Now?'
Bruce Folken was still "out of it" when a hospital employee entered his room and asked if he wanted "to pay now." Afraid the care he was being given would suffer if he said no, Folken agreed as the employee took his debit card from his wallet and charged him $493.60, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/hospital-debt-collection-health-care_n_1528124.html?ref=business#s609557&title=8_Affording_Minimum" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post</a> reports.
Cancer Survivor Sent To Debtors' Prison
Breast cancer survivor<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/lisa-lindsay-breast-cancer-survivor-debtors-jail_n_1446391.html" target="_hplink"> Lisa Lindsay of Illinois was taken from her home in handcuffs and put in debtors' prison</a> over a $280 medical bill that was sent to her by accident. Eventually, she agreed to pay $600 just to settle the charges.
Unspeakable Debtor Threat
According to the FTC, employees at one debt collection agency <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/debt-collectors-abusive-economy_n_1422107.html" target="_hplink">threatened a debtor</a> by saying they would "dig her daughter up and hang her from a tree if she did not pay the debt," <a href="http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/f-t-c-claims-abusive-tactics-by-two-debt-collection-firms/" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.
Impersonating Police Officers
The West Virginia attorney general filed suits in April against seven debt collectors for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/west-virginia-attorney-general-debt-collectors_n_1435549.html" target="_hplink">allegedly impersonating police officers</a> in order to harass borrowers who in some cases didn't even owe any money.
Debt Collectors Report Fake Suicide Threat
Eighty-five year-old Anne Sessions spent hours in the hospital incurring a $1,055 medical bill when debt collectors called authorities to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/anne-sessions-oregon-octogenarian-suing-debt-collector-fake-suicide_n_1269267.html" target="_hplink">falsely report that she was threatening suicide</a>. The debt collector reportedly asked her "how would you do it?"
Woman Jailed Over Car Accident Fees
Colorado resident <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/20/debtors-prison-jail-for-a_n_880321.html" target="_hplink">Kelly Wiedemer spent four nights in debtors prison</a> in June 2011 when a police officer pulled her over for having unregistered plates and discovered she still owed money from an accident that happened in 2009. "I thought debtors' prison was supposed to be unconstitutional," Wiedemer said.
Debt Collectors Set Up Facebook Profiles
Debt collectors will "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/debt-collectors-facebook_n_1448792.html" target="_hplink">set up fake profiles and friend consumers on Facebook</a>, just to get into their personal information," according to one financial planner.
Rincon Charged With Threatening Non-Debtors
The FTC charged Rincon and six other debt collection agencies for using threats and insults to try and collect money from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/ftc-debt-collectors-federal-trade-commission_n_1033839.html" target="_hplink">people who didn't actually owe any</a>.
Phony Police Threats Terrify Couple
When an official-sounding debt collector told Wayne and Brenda Foster they'd be dealing with police unless they paid up, the couple reached for their wallets. So did hundreds of others. But thanks to an FTC investigation of fake debt collectors, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/ftc-busts-scam-debt-collector_n_1418582.html" target="_hplink">multimillion dollar scheme to rip off consumers was shut down in April</a>.
'Nice People Collect More'
Turns out nice guys don't always finish last. Debt collector Access Receivables increased payments by 40 percent after adopting a new <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/access-receivables-nice-strategy_n_1467902.html" target="_hplink">"nice people" strategy emphasizing customer service</a>.