Did a Minnesota debt-collection agency go too far?

A Minnesota-based debt collection agency is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by an Arizona couple over a defaulted student loan.

Michael Collier, a 100% disabled Army veteran, claims in the lawsuit that the company, Gurstel Chargo, garnished their savings to to cover his wife’s $6,000 student loan, even though the money came from Social Security disability payments, which are exempt from garnishment.

But it’s the accusation of the tactics the company allegedly used when the couple tried to get their money back that’s getting attention.

According to a lawsuit filed last week in Phoenix, a representative of the firm told the couple they’d have to sue.


He was also told during this conversation that he should just sign the funds over as it would make a good down payment on the judgment, but was emphatically told that he would not be getting the money back. During this conversation, after Michael told the legal assistant that the funds were exempt veteran disability payments, the assistant told Michael “F- – – you! Pay us your money! You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces you’re (sic) a- -. 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 a- – off. Too bad; you should have died.”

Today, the Golden Valley-based company posted a response on its website:


We learned late last week of the lawsuit filed by Michael Andrew Collier and Kim Collier-Dingman. Gurstel Chargo takes the allegations made in the lawsuit very seriously and we have immediately launched an internal investigation to determine the facts. We are extremely disturbed by the allegations stated in the Complaint, as they are contrary to the policies, practices and values of our firm. We expect that all Gurstel Chargo employees fully comply with all state and federal laws, and we thoroughly train our employees to perform their job in a lawful and respectful manner. Under no circumstances does our firm tolerate the type of conduct alleged in the Complaint.

The Complaint states that the wrongful remarks were made during a telephone call. We have requested from the attorney that filed the Complaint the phone number of the phone that Mr. Collier was allegedly on, an approximate date on which the call occurred, whether the person who made the alleged wrongful comments was male or female, all in order to help us to get to the truth about what occurred. We have been informed by Mr. Collier’s attorney that he is unaware of any of this information. To date, we have discovered no information to substantiate the allegations, but our investigation continues. Should these allegations prove to be true, we will take immediate corrective and disciplinary action.

(h/t: Nate Minor)