By: Lance T. Denha, Esq.
It’s no surprise to learn that debt collectors will go to any level to collect a debt, even if it means violating federal laws. We are hearing horror stories of collection agencies even going so far as questioning the integrity of a struggling debtor. Statements such as “How can you look at yourself in the mirror?” to “You have a wife? Girlfriend? What would she think if she knew?” However, the irony is that the creditor should be the one being questioned by the debtor. Questions such as: Who are you? Do you even have the right to be calling me or preparing a letter to collect on this debt?
The reason you are able to ask these questions above is because of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is a federal law that applies to third party debt collectors. When a debtor or consumer disputes the validity of a debt, the creditor is immediately required to prove, validate, respond and report back to that consumer about all areas related to the debt. The verification provision under the FDCPA must be interpreted to provide a consumer with notice of how and when the debt was originally incurred or other sufficient evidence from which the consumer could sufficiently dispute the payment obligation. The information does not have to be extensive, however it does need to provide the date and nature of the transaction that led to the debt, such as a purchase on a particular date, a missed rental payment for a specific month, a fee for a particular service provided at a specific time, or a fine for a particular offense assessed on a certain.
In this current era of multiple servicer transfers, a debtor could be the target of an unscrupulous debt collector using any strategy, such as adding on charges and violating many differing types of laws, so a debtor is well advised to ask the questions and try to validate the debt to better understand your rights as a debtor.
This validation of debt is vitally important to you as a consumer and debtor to determine if these harassing calls, letters and new servicers attempting to collect the debt have all the necessary paperwork and right to actually call you to collect on the debt. It is your job as a consumer and anyone that represents a consumer to delve fully into the manner in which the debt was obtained from any particular collection agency and how this debt is being reported on your credit score.
Debt collectors can and do have the right to sue a debtor. However, any harassing phone calls or letters you receive with the threat should be accompanied by proof and legitimized. It is important to always remember that collection agents hope that you will not show up to defend yourself, whether it is through pre lawsuit letter threatening to sue or an actual lawsuit. Prepare yourself and understand your rights moving forward when legal action is being threatened.