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Lucy, Esq.
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I am in the state of Ohio, a couple of days ago I received

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I am in the state of Ohio, a couple of days ago I received a call, the man did not identify himself as a debt collector, just said he worked for a "firm". He brought up a credit card account that I had let go to collections when I lost my job. He said that I had 48hrs to pay the balance of the debt or they were going to have to file a lawsuit at the client's request. I thought it odd that he did not identify himself as a debt collector and I had to pull teeth to get the name of the company, Eastpoint Recovery Group. My initial thought is that it was odd to approach me in this way, I have received no mail from this specific company about this debt... How should I approach this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires a person who is calling to identify himself as a debt collector. It's not just odd not to do so - it's illegal. A company that violates the FDCPA can be sued for up to $1,000 per violation. If you let the debt collector know that, it might make him more willing to negotiate.

He's also required to notify you in writing within 5 days after maintaining initial contact to let you know of your right to request validation of the debt under the FDCPA. You're allowed to ask them to produce some evidence that you owe the debt, and that they're authorized to collect it. Once you request validation, they are not allowed to take any steps to collect the debt until they provide it. So, you have the option of sending them a letter requesting that they verify the debt.

Also, you didn't say when the account went to collections, but if it's been more than 15 years, the statute of limitations has expired and you're allowed to refuse to pay and insist that they cease all contact with you. (The statute of limitations has recently been changed, but they would get the benefit of the original statute). It is also a violation of the FDCPA to represent that a debt is collectible when it isn't.

They're not required to call again. They're allowed to go straight to the courthouse. But, if they did file suit, you could still try to negotiate a payment plan or a settlement that would get the case dismissed.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


It went to collections in November 2012, it's a $1760.00 GE Capital Account, I doubt I can prove he didn't properly identify himself.


 


He portrayed himself as someone that wanted to help me, suggested I get someone to spot me the money, telling me how much in legal fees and court costs they would pursue and so on.


 


I also received voicemails on 4 occasions, it was at first a woman who said "I have a public record I am updating for you, but I want to hear your side of the story first". Then it switched to this guy on the 4th one, he said that I had a serious situation on my hands and it was imperative I call him back. Obviously I'm shortening it up a bit, but I saved all of them just in case.


 


So, I should call them and ask them to send me verification on the debt and that they own it?


 


What if he tells me they already did so they don't have to again?


 


I understand they actually can sue, I just thought this approach was a little suspect. I had some old utility bills from college and dealt with a bunch of these agencies and none ever went the route this one is. After going through this I am starting to lean towards pursuing action against them if I'm within my right to do so.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
The approach is a little suspect. If the FTC gets enough complaints, they'll take notice, whether you think you can prove it or not. The standard in civil court is really pretty low, though. The judge will listen to you, listen to them, and decide whether, more likely than not, they violated the act. The voice mails actually help, too. They aren't supposed to call without "meaningful disclosure" of their identity. A name and "Call me" doesn't tell you that it's a collections agency and isn't really a meaningful disclosure.

If they say they send the validation more than a few days ago, you can confirm the address they have and ask them to send it again.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So, if I am served with the lawsuit I know I need to file an answer to the complaint, when I answer should I lay out these items for the court or should I wait until I'm before a judge???


 


I am keeping detailed records now of all communications and any and all voicemails. I will contact them today to get the verification see how that goes.


 


And finally, can I/should I countersue in this instance?


 


Thank you for all your help!!!

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
You have to file an Answer, or the judge enters a default judgment against you. Your answer can be, essentially, that you deny the allegations in the Complaint and they have to prove it.

You do have the option of filing a counter suit for violations of the FDCPA. The judge can award up to $1,000 per violation. In some cases, that can give you some leverage when trying to negotiate a settlement with them, especially if you have voice mails where they don't identify themselves.
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