Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum.
I am sorry to hear of this situation. One moment please as I review the remainder of your question.
It is possible that your account information has been compromised, so generally it is advisable to notify the bank and close out the account.
As for the collection agency, they have the burden of proving that the debt is valid. You can request validation of the debt. If they are unable to prove the debt, it will be very difficult for them to prevail in court.
You can ask the collections company to stop contacting you, and according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, they will not be permitted to attempt further collection - unless they file a lawsuit (and they would be allowed to contact you to serve notice of the suit).
There are many shady collection companies that will try to collect on a debt that they know is invalid - they do this by counting on the fact that many "debtors" won't show up at court. This will result in the default judgment being entered in the creditor's favor - so if they notify you of any upcoming court hearing, it is imperative to attend. Since the burden is on the plaintiff (the creditor), if they are unable to prove the debt, they will not be able to meet their burden, and the case would likely be dismissed.
Sending an official police report further documents your case, so that should help.
If you feel that your identity has been stolen, you can file a complaint with the ftc - please see http://ftc.gov/bcp/bcppip.shtm
If the collection agency refers this to the credit bureaus, you can dispute it, and send them all the information you have in support of your position. Then, they will conduct an investigation (legally they are required to do so). If they determine this was check fraud, the negative listing will be removed from your report, and your credit score will be restored.
We have closed account, provided all information and included a police report. Do we simply ask them to stop contacting us. They have asked us to provide a lesser amount for payment. We then just wait to see if they sue us?
Yes, you can ask them to stop contacting you - so you don't have to deal with the calls. However, you can hire an attorney to detail the situation, provide the evidence, and send a cease and desist letter. That may put your mind at ease, rather than doing a wait and see. Do you think that any one has your personal information so that you may be at risk of ID theft, because you can put a watch on your credit report - so that they will contact you if anyone tries to open an account in your name.
To the best of our knowledge they do not have our information other than name, address and phone number. The thief must have had a check of ours and used a check number for two electronic check purchases, one to Sears for 900.00 and one to Target for 400.00 How much do consumer rights attorneys charge for a cease and desist letter?
If you find one that offers Limited Scope Representation, then generally $75-150. You can google it and find one on your own on the internet (we can't provide one as that would be specific legal advice). Are you a senior by chance? I may be able to find you a free senior legal clinic.
When you have a chance, review this information: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft - identity theft is on the rise, so it's good to know.
No not a senior. I was hoping that because the police dept. mistakeningly gave us a "draft" rather than an official report that now since we have an official copy, we could use that. We did not hear from them for a couple of months so we thought we were done with them.
You can definitely use that. I found this from Texas's attorney general, but it quotes the federal statute, so it can be used in all states.
Address City, State Zip Code
Re: Your Name.
Notice to Cease & Desist
To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 USC 1692c), you are hereby notified to immediately cease communications concerning the collection of the debt associated with the above-referenced account. This notice shall include, but is not limited to written correspondence, as well as telephonic communication. In the event that you fail to honor my request, please be advised that a written log of all contacts made by your company will be recorded. Furthermore, failure to honor this request could subject your company to liability under Federal law.
If you or any other agent of your company attempts to contact me regarding this debt, a formal complaint will be filed with the Texas State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission.
Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.
Your name (typed)
Just change the second to last paragraph to California versus Texas.
This company is in Texas so should I still change it to California since WE are in California.
Do we need to notarize this, send it certified, or simply fax?
Since both states are concerned (Texas, as home state for the defendant; California, as your state), you can put that you will be notifying both state's attorney general's. It's always best to send it certified return receipt requested so they can't claim they didn't get it. No need to notarize.
Thanks so much for your time and expertise. You have given us such good information.
You are welcome. Glad to have helped!
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