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Infolawyer
Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 53806
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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I'm being sued by a collections agency. I cosigned apartment

Customer Question

I'm being sued by a collections agency. I cosigned for an apartment for my cousin two years ago, and the apartment complex gave me 3 days notice before the eviction. I contacted the collections company they deal with after, and I wasn't in their system. The amount was $2000. I received a phone call last night from a collections agency that I owe them $6000. They said they've already put it on my credit. I check my credit once a week, and it is not on my credit. They said they've called once a day for months, but last night was the first call I received. They had my address incorrect in their system, so they've been mailing the wrong address. I've lived at the same address for over 15 years, I'm not sure how they have my address wrong. I've looked online, and remember some things from a business law class I took a few years ago. Is this unfair? I was not contacted, and it doesn't appear on my credit statement. Until the phone call I received last night, I didn't know I was in debt to anyone.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) please wait to rate until I ask you to do so. It may take a few replies for me to be able to render an complete answer. I will let you know when I do.

1) HOW OLD is the debt? In other words, when did it become due?
2) Is the debt really owed? In other words, are you saying it should not be owed (why not), or, it really is valid due to the eviction of the cousin? Or you are not sure if it is valid or not?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's two years old. It was $2000 at the time of eviction. I tried contacting the apartment complex, but they said it already went to collections and I had to wait for them to contact me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I cosigned, but wasn't made aware of the collections until now.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Thank you.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Your main rights as a debtor come from the FDCPA - see HERE. State laws have their own state versions of this federal law that largely mirror it.

What they did may be unfair in that their collection practice was a mess, but even so, it does not sound like they have violated any FDCPA prohibition.

However, do look over both the prohibition and the requirement elements of FDCPA (see link) and be aware of them - any violation of that is actionable.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars or failing to submit the rating does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith by rating me positively.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I corrected my address and asked for a detailed account of what is owed. I wasn't contacted for the debt, and the debt increased from $2000 to $6000 all without my knowledge. the representative that called me from collections last night said it's on my credit, but I check my credit weekly, it's not on there.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Isn't contacting me due process? They didn't contact me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Until last night.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

"Due process" is a generic legal term. It can mean different things in different situations. There is no "due process" when it comes to collecting efforts, I am afraid.

However, if you have not yet received a MAILING from them, then someone in your situation can file a VALIDATION CHALLENGE under FDCPA which may get them to stop collecting. Let me know if you need more information on this.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you send me more information on that?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Sure.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

This is under 15 U.S. Code § 1692g. See HERE. A consumer can dispute all or any part of a debt at any time, but only a written request sent within thirty days of receipt of the first written notice of the debt triggers validation rights under the FDCPA.

If they do not respond, then they must cease collection efforts. However, know that validation only means a loose validation of name of the individual and their identity, nothing more. So many collection agencies can validate a debt easily.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
does the 30 day thing apply to me? They have been sending mail to an address that I have never lived at. They now have my correct address, if ther actually mail me something, can I send a validation challenge?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

It does if they have not yet sent a written correspondence that you have received. Instead of waiting for them to do so however, one can simply send in the validation challenge now.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How do I send in a validation challenge?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

A sample to send is HERE.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If they contact me back with validation, what would I do after that? Would I be responsible for the $4000 of fees that were cried because they didn't contact me?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

If they do, then assuming the debt is genuine, one can simply refuse to pay and risk them filing suit, or, negotiate the debt.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I dispute certain charges? Like when they were reading off what was owed on the phone, they mentioned things like electric. My name was not on the electric bill. So I'm assuming if they send me something detailed, it will have the electric bill on it.
Is there a form to dispute certain charges?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, if there are legal fees that are just marked "legal fees", can I ask for a detailed account of those?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

At this point, it would be negotiation. So you are free to dispute whatever you wish, but their job is to collect. So it is more of a "I'll pay 50% how about that" kind of deal.

You have no right to request break downs of legal fees, etc, at time of negotiation. This is only if they sue.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That makes sense. But can I ask that each charge is in my name? I just don't see how $2000 can change to $6000 without my notice.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

The collection agency will not likely even know. They simply have a name and an amount to collect for. They do not know the specifics. So this may be pointless. You can always try, of course.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This doesn't make sense. There's just some random person that called me and said I owe them $6000? I find it hard to believe that I have no legal protection from the fact that they haven't contacted me until now.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

You cosigned the apartment lease.

He was evicted.

He (and you) were then liable the breach of lease induced by eviction.

Over time, interest and legal fees built up.

You can negotiate and pay some/all of it (or none of it), or wait for them to possibly sue and then nitpick over the fees and disqualify some. The Court would allow this. However for the collection agency, all they are doing is collecting on a debt that their client told them is due.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know you can't say for sure, but how often do they actually sue? Is there any way they could eventually just leave me alone?
Isn't there a 5 or 7 year limit where they can't collect anymore?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

For several thousand, there is a good chance they may sue but I cannot tell you a "percentage" of chance. I am sorry.

However once/if it has been SIX YEARS from date of the amount due, they cannot sue then. MCL(###) ###-####8). They can sue before, however.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. I just got communication that the person who originally owed the debt filed for bankruptcy on Monday, which explains why I am just now getting a call. Does this information change anything?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

No, it does not. They could not go after the original tenant, but can go after the co-signor, then.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If her bankruptcy lawyer settles the debt, would I still be liable?
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 1 year ago.

different expert here. what would you like to know at this point?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Should I wait to be sued, or should I try and settle now?
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 1 year ago.

It is better to try to negotiate. You may thereby avoid the cost of defense and exposure of litigation.

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