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shurmust
shurmust, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 141
Experience:  I have successfully prosecuted over 30 jury trials advocating on behalf of the government.
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If I have a collection that was referred to a collection agency,

Customer Question

If I have a collection that was referred to a collection agency, without either they, or the original claimant notifying me of the debt, how can I proceed with disputing the entry on my credit report?

I have done the following:

1) Contacted the original company (electric provider) and asked for a redaction. It is for $62. I was told, after many back/forths that it was my job to give TECO a forwarding address and that even though my mail WAS forwarded from the address they sent notices to, that did not count
2) Contacted the debt collection company for the same. Was told 'no'. Was also told if I disputed the debt, I would just be making things worse and that my credit would suffer further. I know this is illegal per FCRA. The original debt owner found out about this, contacted the collection agency and asked them for copies of the audio. They said, 'they did not have it'. I am digging further to see if it was deleted
3) Filed complaint with BBB against electric company. Got me nowhere except some verification on things from the person responding to the complaint (the customer service rep at electric company). She is digging into my issues with collection company
4) Collection company verified my CURRENT address as being accurate. When the person from electric company called to verify, she was told they sent the notice to ANOTHER address. They are also using an old cell phone #. One quick Google search would have turned up all my information as I make it readily available. They said they sent ONE letter. They said they made ONE call.

I only found out about this debt 12 days ago. It was JUST reported on the 2nd of August, but shows having been in collection since April. Also. Since disputing this thru the electric company, the collection agency RE-REPORTED the debt showing it's now in dispute. IE: I got notification from credit monitoring that 'another potentially negative item has reported to my credit file'. So for the time being, my credit has returned to where it was.

What are my options?

Can I request hard copies/proof that the notice was sent to me and use that as leverage if I were to fight this all the way? IE: Ask for USPS certified mail receipts showing it was mailed? Isn't the burden of proof on them to show that they notified me?

If I were to sue the collection agency, could I name the Electric company as a co-defendant and by doing so, allow myself access to some of their books? I'm thinking if I overload them with interrogatories, asking for information on any one else they have had a collection redacted from, potentially, their attorneys will say, 'just humor the guy and remove it, this is only over $62 dollars'.

I pull my credit almost every week. I am very thorough in protecting my credit. For them to assume I would not pay a $62 bill, that I am NOT disputing I owe, is silly and I believe a judge would side with me if I took it that far.

And yes, to save my credit, I am willing to fight this to the bitter end and drag them with me.

When I asked the CSR from electric company if they were in a habit of using collection companies who bully their clients, she couldn't comment.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  shurmust replied 1 year ago.

shurmust :

I am happy to help you answer this question. I am sorry to hear about everything going on with the collection company.

shurmust :

Beyond doing what you have already done, make sure you keep records of all of your transactions and communications.

Customer:

I have and I am. My phone service actually has a 'call record' feature. So I activated that. I will of course, let them know they are being recorded as to not violate any wire tapping laws.

shurmust :

First, you will need to dispute the inaccurate report with ALL THREE credit bureaus. This is free once a year. Visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com/

Customer:

That's the thing. The debt IS valid.

Customer:

I was just not made aware of it.

Customer:

I already am disputing it, that's the first thing I did.

shurmust :

Okay. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you may be eligible for $1000.00 plus reasonable attorney's fees, even if the debt is vailid

shurmust :

Also, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, TCPA, everytime they call your cellphone using an computer or a pre-recorded message, without prior express consent, you are eligible for $500.00 per call.

shurmust :

Do not answer the phone when they call and save your messages.

shurmust :

Keep a log.

shurmust :

EVEN IF THE DEBT IS VALID

Customer:

They aren't calling any more.

Customer:

I am.

shurmust :

That is okay, under the TCPA, you can go back four years and under the FDCPA you can go back 1 year.

Customer:

I am disputing it through BBB, Experian, TU and Equifax. I have sent written requests asking for proof of debt from collection agency (CA). I am only concerned with having the derogatory removed from my credit files.

Customer:

So I know that means hardball with this CA and taking them to court (over $62).

shurmust :

If they called your cellphone on a number you could never have provided them when you accrued the debt or any time thereafter, you are likley eligible.

shurmust :

Do not worry about the $62. You should contact a lawyer, they will take your case for free, contingent on your recovering.

Customer:

I'm not really concerned with the 'damages' for violation of FCRA, I'm concerned with the mark on my credit.

shurmust :

Once you have disputed with all three credit bureaus as indicated above, if they do not do anything, presuming it is valid, but invalid for other reasons,---Under the FCRA, one request for damages beyond money, is a court forcing them to remove the derogatory remark.

Customer:

I see what you are saying. Sorry. You are saying, I need to get an attorney, to sue them under FCRA, to get them to play ball and potentially remove the derogatory...

Customer:

Weren't they required to snd me notice?

shurmust :

Yes. Really, your part should be minimal. The moment they hear from a consumer lawyer, they will rectify the issue.

shurmust :

Yes. Under the FDCPA, all notices must be sent within 5 days of a communication for you to dispute the validity of a debt.

shurmust :

Again, this is something a consumer lawyer will work with you on.

Customer:

Gotcha. Also. Requesting proof that notices were mailed to me, would require them to have sent them certified, which they did not. That in and of itself is cause enough to question if they sent the notices correct?

Customer:

I know they have five days to mail me a letter, but they never spoke to me on the phone. They called a VERY old #.

Customer:

Were they required to actually get in touch with me prior to reporting this to the bureaus?

Customer:

Sorry. I know I type fast and are asking a lot of questions. ;)

shurmust :

The debt collection company is responsible for communicating something to you.

shurmust :

However, it is not uncommon for someone like you to not receive something. Nevertheless, the bigger issue is removing the mark.

Customer:

They said they called once and mailed one notice. Wrong cell phone # XXXXX the call and the address was right.

Customer:

Yeah

shurmust :

If you retain a consumer lawyer, at no charge, and on contingency, they will help you with this matter and as I stated, you may also be entitled to monetary damages.

Customer:

Cool. I'll see where that takes me.

shurmust :

I know you say you are no interested in monetary damages, but keep in mind, everytime they called your cell phone you are eligible for up to $500.00 per call. For example, if a debt collector called you 10x, that is $5000.00 presuming they did not have consent.

Customer:

They only called once and it was a wrong number.

shurmust :

Contact a consumer lawyer through your local Bar Association or the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

shurmust :

I wish you all the best on this and if there is anything I can do to be of assistance in the future please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Customer:

Thanks.

shurmust, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 141
Experience: I have successfully prosecuted over 30 jury trials advocating on behalf of the government.
shurmust and 6 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you

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